Traitors, Turncoats and "Business Decisions"

Mike Knuble (Photo: Getty Images / Bruce Bennett)

Since the Caps joined the NHL in 1974, fifty-one former Caps have also played for the Flyers; forty-four have appeared in games as both a Capital and a Ranger. And a whopping sixty-one NHLers have skated for both the Caps and Penguins.

When Jaromir Jagr pulls on the Flyers jersey on October 6, however, he'll be making history as the first person to ever suit up for all four.

It's perhaps a bit of a dubious distinction, to write oneself into the history books as the guy who has pissed off fans up and down the east coast (and continues to do so). And yet while he may go on record as the most traitorous of them all, he's hardly alone. After the jump, check out some of his fellow "traitors" and where they rank on a scale of 1-5 (1 being mildly traitorous, 5 being a blackhearted turncoat with no soul).

Adam Oates - Now the assistant coach with another former Patrick Division rival, the New Jersey Devils, Oates was acquired by the Caps from Boston (the infamous swap that sent Jim Carey to the Bruins) in March of 1997 and went on to play five more seasons in DC. In 387 games with the Caps, Oates scored 63 goals and added an incredible 290 assists before being traded to Philadelphia in 2002 for Maxime Ouellet and three picks in that summer's draft. He would play just 14 games with the Flyers and retire two years later.
Traitor Scale: 1

Donald Brashear - He was the tough guy everyone loved to hate while with the Flyers, and the enforcer with a soft side who developed a devoted following once he arrived in DC to protect his young Russian teammates. Brashear would score just 10 goals in his three-year tenure with the Caps but would rack up 396 of his 2634 career penalty minutes during that time (and another 18 PIMs - and a six-game suspension - in the playoffs). After the 2008-09 season he was not re-signed by the Caps and instead moved back up I-95 to join the Rangers for the final leg of his NHL career. 
Traitor Scale: 2

Dainius Zubrus - Long before he was Alex Ovechkin's Russian-speaking support system, Zubrus was a first-round pick of the Philadelphia Flyers, a team for whom he would play parts of three seasons before moving on to Montreal and then being traded to Washington in 2001. His six seasons as a member of the Capitals spanned the fire sale, the lockout and the rebuild, during which he drew the enviable slot alongside Ovechkin and went on to register his only two twenty-goal seasons to date. 
Traitor Scale: 2

Pete Peeters - Another draftee into the Flyers organization, Peeters played four seasons for the Broad Street Bullies before being traded to Boston in 1982. Four years later he would once again find himself shipped out, this time to the Caps in exchange for fellow goaltender Pat Riggin. During his time with the Caps, Peeters would put up his second- and third-best seasons, compiling an overall record of 70-41-15 with a GAA of 3.05, a save percentage of .887 and seven shutouts. Decent numbers for the time, but he undid any goodwill by re-signing with the Flyers as a free agent in the summer of 1990 and would retire shortly after.
Traitor Scale: 3

John Druce - Druce is perhaps best known by Caps fans - and hockey fans everywhere - as the model of a playoff one-hit wonder. It was the spring of 1990 that made his name legend, as he followed up his eight-goal regular season with fourteen goals and three assists in fifteen playoff games en route to the franchise's first Conference Final berth. The Caps would ultimately lose to the Bruins, and Druce would move on to Winnipeg in 1992 before finishing out his career with three years in Philadelphia - where he managed just a single playoff goal.
Traitor Scale: 2

Keith Jones - A seventh-round draft pick by the Caps in 1988, Jones was a feisty and fairly reliable role-player, spending five years with the Caps in the mid-90s before ultimately being traded to Colorado. A trade from the Avs to Philadelphia in 1999 would mark the final move of his playing career, but the beginning of a new one - as the man simply known as "Jonesy", color commentator (and often shamefully-biased cheerleader) for the Flyers on Comcast and a member of the Versus panel of stars.
Traitor Scale: 4

Craig Berube - Berube, or "Chief", was a free-agent signing by the Flyers in 1986, and he honed his combat skills over the course of five seasons with Philly. After brief stops in Calgary and Toronto, Berube finally arrived in Washington and established himself as a fan favorite during his six-year tenure with the Caps, providing a pugilistic spark en route to the team's first Stanley Cup Final appearance. A trade the following season would send him back to Philadelphia, but he would grace DC with his presence one more time for a brief 22-game stint in 2000. Following his retirement two years later, Berube has gone on to coach Philly's AHL team, the Phantoms, before becoming an assistant coach with the Flyers.
Traitor Scale: 4

Mike Knuble - It's no surprise that Knuble's special skillset has been honed to perfection; after all, over the course of his 14-year career he has played alongside some of the game's greats, using his abilities to make his often more talented linemates even better. Knuble turned a two-year run with Detroit that included a Stanley Cup (yes, that Detroit team) into extended stretches with Boston and, most recently, the Flyers. After four years in Philadelphia, however, Knuble packed up his Penguin-killing skills and moved down I-95 to sign with the Caps. Smart man.
Traitor Scale: 4

Kevin Hatcher - Hatcher remains one of the better defensemen in Caps' franchise history, forming part of a once-terrifying defense that included Scott Stevens, Calle Johansson, and the Secretary of Defense himself, Rod Langway. The 17th pick in the 1984 Draft, Hatcher would go on to spend parts of ten seasons with the Caps before ultimately being traded to Dallas for another bruising defenseman, Mark Tinordi. A year later Caps fans would be forced to see him don the black and gold with Pittsburgh, playing for the Penguins for three years before another trade turned him into a Ranger.
Traitor Scale: 3

Larry Murphy - After starting his career with the Kings, Murphy would play parts of six seasons in Washington. Although a decent finesse defenseman, his time with the Caps is most frequently remembered as the moment the "Whoop Whoop" chant was born. After departing the District via trade to Minnesota, Murphy would go on to win two Stanley Cups with the Penguins and two with the Wings - including one against his former team - and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2004.
Traitor Scale: 3

Steve Eminger - A first-round draft pick in 2002, Eminger had the great misfortune to be a young defenseman on a team that needed every warm body it could get. Over the course of his five-year career with the Caps, Eminger would bounce between the NHL, the AHL and the press box before parlaying a standout playoff series against the Flyers into a trade to the Flyers (thanks again for Carlson, Steve). His time with Philadelphia was short-lived, as he found himself traded not once but twice the following season. After a stop in Anaheim, he signed with the Rangers where he continues to warm the pressbox play.
Traitor Scale: 2

Brent Johnson - A product of the St. Louis organization, Johnson spent five seasons with the Blues that included a remarkable playoff run in 2002. He signed with the Caps as a backup to Olie Kolzig right after the lockout and would continue to fill that role for the next four years, until the acquisition of Cristobal Huet created an overcrowded crease and sent Johnson to the press box for the remainder of the 2008-09 season. It's okay, though, he landed on his feet...in Pittsburgh...and became one of just five four a few players to play with both Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby.
Traitor Scale: 4

Sergei Gonchar - Another home-grown defenseman, Gonchar was drafted by the Caps in the first round of the 1992 Entry Draft and went on to play almost ten seasons in Washington, where he scored 144 of his career-to-date 209 goals. When the team was busy shipping out salary and bringing in prospects in ’03, Gonchar asked to be traded as well rather than stay and be part of a rebuild. The Caps granted his wish, sending him to Boston for Shaone Morrisonn and the pick that would ultimately become Jeff Schultz, while Gonchar would appear in just fifteen games for Boston. The following season he signed with Pittsburgh, earning a Stanley Cup and the derision of many a Caps fan.
Traitor Scale: 4

Tom Poti - The Boston University standout-turned-NHLer established himself as a reliable puck-moving defenseman with the Edmonton Oilers, playing in Alberta for four seasons before being traded to the New York Rangers. From there, he began to take part in a fun ritual known as "annoy the crap out of Rangers fans", first by signing - and excelling with - the rival New York Islanders and then by not only signing with Washington but also lighting up his former team, in New York, in the playoffs, in a pivotal Game 6.
Traitor Scale: 4

Matt Cooke - Just in case you blocked out the memory forever, Matt Cooke was in fact a Capital at one time, acquired by the Caps at the 2008 trade deadline and appearing in seventeen regular season games, with another seven in the playoffs. Surprisingly enough (and most likely due to the brevity of his time here) he kept himself in check while wearing the red, white and blue, earning himself only a (highly questionable) fine for having the gall to knock Vincent Lecavalier over. He may have been relatively well-behaved in DC, but none of that mattered when his next move was to sign with the Penguins. And of course we all know how he behaved after that...
Traitor Scale: 4

Jaromir Jagr - What is there to say about ol’ JJ that hasn’t already been said a million times (and that doesn’t involve select four-letter words)? After tormenting Caps fans for years, establishing himself as a premier scorer and winning two Cups, he claimed to be "dying alive" in Pittsburgh and even talked about retirement rather than continue on. Instead the Pens called his bluff and moved him to Washington in exchange for a couple of no-name prospects and $5 million.

Ah, and all was good in the world. Jagr arrived in DC to a hero’s welcome and, albeit briefly, performed well for the Caps – just long enough to get that seven-year, $77 million contract. Soon his numbers slipped, his attitude devolved and his on-ice troubles were augmented by off-ice issues, leading the Caps to basically pay the Rangers to take him off their hands during that now infamous firesale of 2003.

But he wasn’t done yet. After four fairly successful years with New York he flew the coop, signing with the KHL's Avangard Omsk where he played for three seasons before ultimately deciding he missed the NHL far too much and wanted to make a comeback. As summer got underway, so too did "JagrWatch", and all signs pointed to a return to his roots with the Penguins - the team that drafted him led by the man who he claimed was his idol.

...so naturally he signed with their bitter cross-state rivals, the Philadelphia Flyers. Yeah, his heart may be in Pittsburgh, but his soul is long-gone.
Traitor Scale: 6. Because when you're all the way up, all the way up, all the way up, you're on five on your scale... Where can you go from there? Where? Nowhere. Exactly. What we do is, if we need that extra push over the cliff, you know what we do? Six. Exactly. One more treasonous.

********

For a complete look at the intertwined history among the Caps, Flyers, Rangers and Penguins, check out the entire list here.

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