As we inch towards the dog days of summer, here's a look at some things that have happened on this day in franchise history.
July 7 hasn't traditionally been the busiest day for the Caps, or for hockey in general. Almost a week removed from the opening of free agency, this is usually when teams have added depth players, lower-level contracts and complementary pieces - and the Caps have been no different. Take a look:
- July 7, 2000: The Capitals sign Craig Berube to his second tour of duty with the Caps.
His first time around with the team spanned 397 regular season games over six seasons, ending when he was traded to the Flyers in a cash deal in March 1999. In those 397 games, Berube went 26-37-63, minus-28, and racked up 1,202 minutes in penalties. He also played in 38 playoff games over that period, going 1-0-1, minus-5, with 90 minutes in penalties. That lone playoff goal would be a big one, though, proving to be the game-winning goal early in the third period of the Caps' 2-0 win over the Buffalo Sabres in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals and giving the Caps a 3-1 edge in games. The Caps would go on to win the series in six games and advance to the only Stanley Cup final in team history.
His second stint in DC was much shorter and less memorable, as Berube played in just 22 games for the Caps in the 2000-01 season, recording just one point (an assist) and 18 penalty minutes while averaging less than six minutes of ice time per game before he was traded to the New York Islanders for a ninth-round 2001 draft pick.
That pick was used to select goaltender Robert Müller, who did not play for the club and passed away far too soon, at the age of 28, from brain cancer in May 2009.
- July 7, 2010: The Caps sign a pair of free agents - defenseman Brian Fahey and forward Kyle Greentree. Fahey had been a fourth-round draft pick of the Colorado Avalanche in 2000, but never advanced to the NHL level until signing with the Caps. Fahey was a late cut from training camp for the 2010-11 season, but he finally did get to make his NHL debut on October 16th against the Nashville Predators. He would appear in seven games for the Caps in the regular season, his only NHL experience as it turned out. He did appear in 60 regular season games for the Hershey Bears in the AHL (4-26-30, plus-22) and another six postseason games (1-0-1, even). Fahey moved on after the 2010-11 season, playing for the Rockford IceHogs in the AHL in 2011-12. He spent this past season with EC Red Bull Salzburg in the Austrian Hockey League.
Kyle Greentree was signed as a free agent by the Caps after having some, if limited, NHL experience with the Philadelphia Flyers (two games in 2007-08) and the Calgary Flames (two games in 2008-09). He would not dress for the Caps, but he did have quite a year with the Hershey Bears, going 30-33-63, plus 20 (third on the team in scoring), in the regular season. He added a goal and an assist in six postseason games. Greentree spent another year in Hershey (11-23-34, minus-10, in 50 regular season games; 1-0-1, minus-1 in five playoff games) before heading to Europe in 2012-13.
- July 7, 2012: the Caps signed free agent center Ryan Stoa. He was another player of some, but limited NHL experience when he arrived with the Caps, having played in 37 NHL games over two seasons with the Colorado Avalanche. The 2012-13 season would not be kind to Stoa, though, the result of missing two months with an upper body injury suffered in early November while skating with the Hershey Bears.
He did appear in 46 games with the Bears in that 2012-13 season (11-8-19, minus-14) and was thought of well enough to be brought back the following season. With the Bears in 2013-14, Stoa went 16-24-40, plus-3, in the regular season, and he did finally make his debut with the Caps on March 5, 2014, against the Philadelphia Flyers, going without a point in six minutes of ice time. He appeared in three games for the Caps that season, his last appearances in an NHL uniform.
As days go, July 7 does not conjure up any "I remember where I was when I heard" moments, but managing a hockey enterprise is not always about signing a big free agent or executing a blockbuster trade. It's something a team does all year round with moves great and small.