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This Week in Capitals History: August 15-21

August might be a slow month on the hockey calendar, but that doesn't mean there aren't some interesting nuggets in this week in Washington Capitals history.

Len Redkoles/Getty Images

As we become firmly ensconced in the dog days of summer, here's a look at some things that have happened this week in franchise history.

If there is one word that characterizes the Week of August 15-21 in Washington Capitals history, it would be "volume." There might not have been any deals made on August 15th in Caps history, but the rest of the week makes up for it. Let's take a look.

August 16

August 16, 1979. Maybe it was the Caps winning only 24 games in the 1978-79 season. Or perhaps it was that they dressed four goaltenders during that season. Whatever the reason, on this date the Caps acquired goaltender Wayne Stephenson from the Philadelphia Flyers for a third-round pick in the 1981 Entry Draft. Of the four goalies to dress for the Caps in the 1978-79 season, only once did any of them win more than 15 games in a season, that being by Gary Inness, who won 24 games for the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1974-75. Stephenson came to the Caps four years removed from winning 40 games for the Flyers in 1975-76 and won two games in the Flyers' Stanley Cup championship season of 1974-75. He won 20 games with the Flyers in his last season there, but his 3.35 goals against average was his worst for a full season in the NHL to that point.

Stephenson brought a level of credibility to the position, and by Capitals standards of the time, he was successful. In two years with the Caps he won 22 games, which at the time placed him second among goalies in career wins for the franchise (Ron Low had 30). His goals against average with the franchise (3.65 in 76 games) was also second best among goalies appearing in at least 25 games (Inness had a 3.64 GAA in 54 games). His second season in Washington was marred by injuries that limited him to 20 appearances. At the end of that season, at the age of 36, Stephenson announced his retirement. Both he and the player selected with the draft pick sent to the Flyers have since passed away. Stephenson died of brain cancer in June 2010 at the age of 65. Barry Tabobondung, never having risen to the NHL, died while saving his son's life in a road grader incident in July 2000.

August 17

August 17, 1977. In the only multi-asset trade of this week, Caps acquired center Walt McKechnie, a third-round pick in the 1978 Amateur Draft., and a second-round pick in the 1979 Amateur Draft from the Detroit Red Wings for the rights to goaltender Ron Low and a third-round pick in the 1979 Amateur Draft. As for the NHL players, it was a trade of players in their chronological prime. The 27-year old Low had just come off a season in which he set career highs in games played (54), wins (16), and goals against average (3.87). He left as the all-time leader in franchise wins (30). The 30-year old McKechnie was coming off a pair of career seasons in games played (80 in each of the 1975-76 and 1976-77 seasons), goals scored (26 and 25), and points (82 and 59).

It was a level of production McKechnie could not replicate with the Caps, though, and apparently it wasn't a great experience for him in DC, stating at one point that "[management] tried to destroy me"

Yeah, that's probably a good sign that things didn't go so well.

The Caps and McKechnie started the 1977-78 season with a 2-3-0 record, then the bottom fell out. They went winless in their next 20 games (0-15-5) before breaking out with a 5-3 win over the Cleveland Barons on December 7th. By that time, McKechnie had been barred from practice for poor attitude. It was ironic that the Caps should end their streak against the Barons, because two days later they traded McKechnie to Cleveland for Bob Girard and a second-round pick in the 1978 amateur draft. For the record, McKechnie played in 16 games for the Caps, going 4-1-5, minus-14.

August 17, 1984. On this date the Caps signed Graeme Nicolson. One might be forgiven if they do not recall Nicolson, but in fact, he did play in 52 NHL games with three clubs (Boston, Colorado, the New York Rangers) before signing with the Capitals. What he did not do was play a game with the Caps. He did appear in 37 games with the Caps' AHL affiliate Binghamton Whalers, but it would be his only year in the Caps' organization and his last in pro hockey.

August 18

August 18, 1999. In the first of three deals on this day of the week in Caps history, they acquired defenseman Steve Shirreffs from the Calgary Flames for Benoit Gratton. What is memorable about his career was how it tracks with that of former Capital Jeff Halpern, save for two things.

Both are natives of the DMV, Halpern born in Washington and Shirreffs born in Bethesda, Maryland. Both attended and played hockey at Princeton University, each playing four seasons for the Ivy League school between 1995 and 1999. Both played briefly with the Portland Pirates in the AHL, then the Capitals affiliate.

The two differences? Shirreffs was drafted, selected by the Calgary Flames (ninth round/233rd overall), while Halpern was an undrafted free agent later signed by the Caps. Second, Halpern played in 976 regular season NHL games, 507 of them with the Caps, and 39 NHL playoff games, 19 of them with the Caps. Shirreffs never appeared in an NHL game. He played in 53 AHL games and 70 games in the ECHL before ending his career in Finland in 2003-04.

August 18, 2003. In another signing on this date, the Caps brought on center Francois Methot. A former third-round pick of the Buffalo Sabres (54th overall in 1996), Methot never could crack the Sabres' roster, playing in 334 regular season and 39 postseason games with the Rochester Americans of the AHL. After a year of the same with the Capitals -€” 53 games at Portland of the AHL, none with the Caps -€” he headed to Europe, playing in Germany until ending his pro career after the 2014-2015 season.

August 18, 2005. In what might be the most significant deal of this week, or at least the one most remembered by today's Caps fans, Washington signed free agent Matt Bradley. A former fourth-round draft pick of the San Jose Sharks (102nd overall in 1996), Bradley worked his way though Canadian juniors and the AHL before cracking the Sharks' lineup in 2000-01. He appeared in 121 games over three seasons with the Sharks before he was traded to Pittsburgh in March 2003. He played one full season with the Penguins before the Caps signed him, bringing modest numbers with him to Washington (19 goals and 45 points in 203 regular season games), but he also brought a fierce attitude.

In six seasons in Washington, Bradley accumulated 367 penalty minutes, but 235 of them came in 47 fights. He developed a reputation as a guy who would stand up for his teammates, perhaps the most famous instance of which was one against the Tampa Bay Lightning, in which he charged off the bench on a change to come to the assistance of Alex Ovechkin against Steve Downie. He could endear himself to Caps fans in other ways as well.

Bradley's six seasons in Washington were the best of his 11-season career. After the 2010-11 campaign, he signed with the Florida Panthers as a free agent. Not that he still couldn't make news for the Caps. He did just that in the summer of his signing with Florida with some commentary on the level of effort on his old club, one player in particular. He sustained a serious concussion against Anaheim in February 2012, one from which he would never recover in terms of being able to stay in the lineup. He played in just 45 games for the Panthers in 2011-12, his last season in the NHL, but has recently returned to his old stomping ground in DC as a pro scout for the Caps.

August 20

August 20, 1997. This date in Caps history was a three-fer, signing goalies Mike O'Neill and Stephane Beauregard, and left winger Mark Major.

The goalies are an interesting case. Both appeared intermittently in the NHL, O'Neill in 21 games over four seasons with the Winnipeg Jets and the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, Beauregard in 90 games over five seasons with the Jets and the Philadelphia Flyers. They were teammates on the 1991-92 Jets squad (although O'Neill appeared in only one game). Neither would play for the Caps, nor would they be teammates at the Caps' AHL affiliate in Portland. O'Neill appeared in 47 games for the Pirates (16-18-10, 3.07, .904), while Beauregard appeared in 18 games for the Chicago Wolves in the IHL (10-6-0, 3.21, .887). Beauregard was recalled to the Caps in January 1998 but did not appear in a game. For both, the 1997-1998 season would be their last in North America. Beauregard joined HC Davos in Switzerland the following season, while O'Neill joined EC VSV Villach n Austria.

Mark Major also had a modest NHL resume before joining the Caps. It consisted of two games with the Detroit Red Wings in the 1996-97 season. The only mark on his ledger was five penalty minutes, courtesy of a fight with Tie Domi of the Toronto Maple Leafs. On Major's part, that might have been trying to earn a reputation against one of the NHL's legendary tough guys. As a minor leaguer, Major recorded 2,402 minutes in 823 regular season games in the AHL, IHL, and ECHL. Of those totals, he recorded 605 penalty minutes in 145 games over two seasons with the Portland Pirates affiliate of the Caps in the AHL Major never appeared in a game with the Caps, or any other NHL team for that matter, but after his two seasons in Portland he did play in another five seasons of minor league hockey.

August 20, 2013. On this date the Caps signed Brandon Segal as a free agent. A former fourth-round draft pick of the Nashville Predators, Segal left no mystery to why the adjective "journeyman" could be attached to his name. After playing for two years with the Calgary Hitmen in Canadian juniors after he was drafted, he moved up to the Predators' AHL affiliate in Milwaukee for the 2003-2004 season. He spent four years there, with a brief stay with the Rockford Icehogs of the UHL. Meanwhile, his rights were being moved from team to team. In 2007, Nashville traded him to the Anaheim Ducks for future considerations, and he suited up for the Portland Pirates affiliate. Less than a year later, he was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning, where he appeared in his first two NHL games.

In July 2009 he was signed as a free agent by the Los Angeles Kings, and his split time between the parent club and the Manchester Monarchs of the AHL. The following February, he was waived by the Kings and claimed by the Dallas Stars. Over a season and a half, Segal appeared in 65 games for the Stars, his longest NHL stay, posting ten goals and 20 points. However, in September 2001 he was on the move again, this time to the Chicago Blackhawks. Unable to crack a loaded lineup there, he was traded back to the Lightning in February 12012 for more "future considerations." He lasted five months there before signing with the New York Rangers as a free agent in July 2012.

Thirteen months later he was in the Caps' organization. It would be his last NHL stop, one in which he did not dress at the NHL level but did appear in 63 games for the Hershey Bears, posting 17 goals and 44 points in his last season in North America. The following season he signed with Medveščak Zagreb in the KHL, having appeared in 147 career NHL games over five seasons with four clubs.

August 21

August 21, 1980. Perhaps looking to get more ornery and to add a dash of credibility to their roster, the Caps acquired Bob Kelly from Philadelphia for a third-round pick in the 1982 Entry Draft on this date. Ornery is almost an understatement when describing Kelly's on-ice presence. After posting 245 penalty minutes in 107 games in Canadian juniors, he was drafted in the third round of the 1970 NHL Amateur Draft by (who else?) the Philadelphia Flyers. He jumped right into the Flyer lineup and didn't miss a beat in terms of his ability to rile opponents. One of the charter members of the "Broad Street Bullies," Kelly recorded 1,285 penalty minutes in 741 regular season games over ten seasons with the Flyers.

By the time those ten seasons were up, Kelly ranked third in Flyer history in career penalty minutes, behind Dave Schultz (1,505) and Andre Dupont (1,386). He also appeared in nine postseasons with the Flyers, again showing his edgy side with 172 penalty minutes in 101 playoff games. That postseason resume included two Stanley Cups. That mix of grit and on-ice success made Kelly a valuable addition to a club still struggling to become competitive after six seasons of pain, failing to reach the 70-point mark in any of them.

Kelly might have gone from the penthouse to the cellar of the NHL standings, but it did not seem to affect his level of play. In his first season with the Caps (1980-81), he set career highs in goals (26), assists (36), and points (62). And, his 157 penalty minutes in 80 games tied his second-highest total for a season in his career. The following season was one of transition for the Caps as they went to a younger lineup. Of the 15 players to dress for at least 50 games in the 1981-82 season, only one was older than 30 (defenseman Terry Murray). Kelly played in only 16 games with the Caps over the first two months of the season, the Caps and Kelly came to mutual agreement to terminate his contract. With that, Kelly's NHL career came to an end.

August 21, 1989. In the last deal of the week of August 15-21, the Caps signed defenseman Kent Paynter. It was not his first tour as a "Capital", having spent a year with the Summerside Capitals of the PI Junior League as a 16 year old before joining the Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario Hockey League in 1982. After a season in Kitchener, he was drafted by the Blackhawks (eighth round/159th overall), for whom he would appear in just three games over two seasons. It was after that second abbreviated season with the Blackhawks that Paynter was signed by the Caps as a free agent.

Paynter did not leave much of a mark with the Caps, playing in only 14 games over two seasons. However, on the last day of January 1990, he did record his first NHL goal, tying the game against the Minnesota North Stars in the third period of a contest the Caps went on to win, 4-3, in overtime. It was the only goal that Paynter would score with the Caps and the only one he would score in his NHL career, a career that lasted three more seasons -€” one with the Winnipeg Jets and two with the Ottawa Senators -€” before it came to an end after the 1993-1994 season.

We said at the top that the one word that characterizes this week in Caps history is "volume." With this week featuring the acquisitions of Matt Bradley, Bob Kelly, and Mark Major, perhaps one could add "feisty" to the relevant descriptions. It's all a part of what makes the summer interesting from time to time in hockey.