As the beginning of the season draws closer, we thought we might change things up with “Ten Odd Facts” to serve as some “end of the bar” conversation. In this installment: penalties.
1. Only four players in Capitals history took just a single penalty during their tenure in DC, with that lone penalty being a fighting major:
- Yves Beaudoin (December 9, 1986 versus New Jersey, a 4-2 Capitals win)
- Denis Chasse (January 31, 1996 at Montreal, a 5-2 Canadiens win)
- Louis Robitaille (February 7, 2006 versus Florida, a 5-0 Capitals win)
- Patrick Wey (March 30, 2014 at Nashville, a 4-3 Predators shootout win)
That last one was an example of the darker side of the game. Patrick Wey hit Predator Rich Clune along the boards. Clune, an experienced fighter (32 NHL fights to that point in his career), took offense and challenged Wey. The rookie, an inexperienced fighter (only one other fight in his career, and that coming five years earlier in the USHL), nonetheless accepted. It might have been in accordance with a “code” of conduct, but it was costly. Wey suffered a head injury. It would be his last NHL game, cut short after nine appearances. He announced his retirement on June 29, 2015, at the age of 24, after a series of concussions.
2. Dale Hunter is the only player in Capitals history to record at least 100 penalties in a single season. He did it in his inaugural season in Washington, in 1987-88.
3. Hunter has the four highest season penalty totals in team history (106 in 1987-88; 94 in 1988-89; 94 again in 1989-90, and 91 in 1990-91). Over those four seasons, Hunter was penalized more times (385) than any player in the league, 22 times more than Garth Butcher.
4. Hunter is also the only Capital to record 100 minor penalties in a single season, precisely 100, also in that 1987-88 season.
5. Tom Wilson isn’t exactly beloved by fans of the other 30 teams in the NHL, and he’s got the wrap sheet to explain at least part of that. In seven NHL seasons, his highest penalty total to date is 58 in 2017-18 — and if you want to see how much the game has changed, that gaudy total is only high enough to tie for 35th place in Caps’ history.
6. You may think Wilson led the team in penalties last season, and... well, okay, you’d be right (35). But that wasn’t the case when it came to minor penalties. The leader there was Michal Kempny, who had 30 to Wilson’s 24. Even Evgeny Kuznetsov took more minors (25) than Wilson.
7. Wilson took 10 or more penalty minutes in five different games last season, by far the most on the team — in fact, just one other Cap had more than 10 penalty minutes in one game. If you had “John Carlson,” you win the virtual t-shirt and should probably head to Vegas. Carlson took 14 minutes in penalties in a 7-2 loss in Nashville to the Predators last January – all of them in the third period of a game already well out of reach, as a frustrated Carlson took a slashing penalty, an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, and a game misconduct.
8. Speaking of game misconduct penalties, that is one category of penalty in which Dale Hunter does not hold the career high for the club. That honor, so to speak, goes to Craig Berube, who was hit 13 times in 419 games with game misconduct penalties in his Caps career, four times in just 43 games in 1994-95.
9. In franchise history, 14 players appeared in just one game for the Caps, and only two of them marked the occasion by taking a penalty in that lone Caps appearance: Ryan Stanton and Jonas Johansson. For Stanton it came in his last NHL game, a 6-3 win in Columbus on January 19, 2016. For Johansson it came in his only NHL game, one in which he logged barely four minutes of ice time, a 4-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on April 18, 2006.
10. If you were to ask Caps fans which netminder holds the career record for penalty minutes, most would likely say it was Olie Kolzig. Kolzig was certainly a mercurial sort who could unleash his “Godzilla” side from time to time, but he’s actually not the correct answer. Don Beaupre holds the club record for career penalty minutes with 114, although Kolzig is close behind in second with 107. After those two hotheads, you have to go a long way to third, where you will find Al Jensen with 44 penalty minutes.