In today’s Mid-Day Memory, we take a look at those Washington Capitals who did not work or play well with others, those instances in which a Capital recorded 25 or more minutes in penalties in a single game. It is, as you might expect, a colorful history. For example, did you know…
- The first instance of a Capitals player accumulating 25 or more penalty minutes took place on March 20, 1977, in what would be the 234th game in franchise history. Perhaps fittingly, the first instance was recorded by Yvon Labre, by that time team captain and the player who would be the first to have his number retired by the club. He compiled 29 penalty minutes in a 6-2 loss to the Buffalo Sabres at Capital Centre in Landover, MD. For the record, the log included: high-sticking, fighting, high-sticking (again), spearing, fighting (again), and a game misconduct.
- The last instance of a Capital recording 25 or more penalty minutes was by Donald Brashear on December 20, 2008, in a 7-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers at Wachovia Center (now Wells Fargo Center) in Philadelphia. Brashear’s penalty log in that game included: fighting (twice), roughing (twice), unsportsmanlike conduct, and a misconduct for a total of 26 minutes. The odd thing about that game is that it was the only loss the Caps recorded in a span of 13 games from December 10th through January 6th, the last win in that stretch being a payback 2-1 shootout win over the Flyers in Washington. And, for those of you who enjoy such things, one of those fights:
- The Caps have played 903 regular season games, dating up to the current pause, since Brashear had his outburst against the Flyers.
- There have been 28 different players accounting for 39 instances of logging 25 or more penalty minutes in a game at least once for the Capitals. It might not surprise any Caps fan that Scott Stevens, quite the mercurial player in his youth, has the most such games (four).
- The Caps are 12-18-0 (five ties) in the 35 games in which a player recorded 25 or more penalty minutes.
- There were 39 instances but only 35 games? Yes, because on four occasions, the Caps had two players log 25 or more penalty minutes. On December 21, 1980, it was Jean Pronovost and Dennis Maruk doing it against the Flyers in a 6-0 win. On December 19, 1981, it was Torrie Robertson and Randy Holt doing it in a 6-4 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks. Robertson and Holt repeated their double in a 4-4 tie against the Flyers on March 27, 1982. It would be more than 15 years for the fourth instance, that being when Craig Berube and Dale Hunter each logged 25-plus penalty minutes in a 5-4 loss to the Boston Bruins on November 21, 1998 (technically a loss in overtime, but such losses were not recorded in 1998-1999). That game was particularly memorable, however, for featuring a different pair of combatants:
- Sixteen different opponents have seen a Capital go off on them for 25 or more penalty minutes at least once. The Philadelphia Flyers are the club inspiring the most orneriness. Ten times a Capitals player logged 25 or more penalty minutes against the Flyers. Those ten games were recorded by ten different players: Donald Brashear, Rob Pearson, Neil Sheehy, Ed Kastelic, Randy Holt, Torrie Robertson, Jean Pronovost, Dennis Maruk, Gary Rissling, and Paul Mulvey. The Caps were 3-4-0 (three ties) in those ten games against Philadelphia.
- There are eight members of the 700-goal club, but only one of them ever recorded a game with 25 or more penalty minutes. It was a Capital, but not Alex Ovechkin. On December 6, 1980, Mike Gartner logged 30 penalty minutes in a wild 8-6 win over the Colorado Rockies at Capital Centre. He was charged with all 30 minutes in the third period, drawing a pair of misconducts and a game misconduct. It was part of, to say the least, one of the wilder games in Capitals history, the “wildest of the century,” according to then Caps General Manager Max McNab.
- Only four Capitals recorded a goal in a game in which they logged 25 or more penalty minutes. Gary Rissling had a goal and 29 penalty minutes in a 5-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings at Capital Centre on January 19, 1979; Dennis Maruk had a goal, an assist, and 25 penalty minutes in a 6-0 whitewashing of the Flyers in Philadelphia on December 21, 1980; Torrie Robertson had a goal and 27 penalty minutes in a 6-4 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks at Capital Centre on December 19, 1981. Jean Pronovost is the only Capital to record a multi-goal game when charged with 25 or more penalty minutes. He had two goals and an assist to go along with 25 penalty minutes in a 6-0 win over the Flyers on December 21, 1980.
- The all-time franchise leader for penalty minutes in a single game is not Dale Hunter or Scott Stevens; it is not Torrie Robertson or Randy Holt. That distinction belongs to Todd Krygier, who logged 35 minutes in a 6-4 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on January 26, 1992 in Landover. It did not take him long, less than five minutes, in fact. At the 4:48 mark of the game, Krygier checked Paul Stanton from behind into the boards, for which he received a five minute penalty for checking from behind, a misconduct penalty, and a double game misconduct, ending his evening. It would not be the last time Krygier got under the skin of the Penguins. He would flip the switch on Mario Lemieux in a playoff game four years later in the playoffs, on April 24, 1996. Lemieux’ retaliation for Krygier’s indiscretions earned him an early trip to the shower in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal. The Pens did have the last word, though, winning in four overtimes, 3-2, before going on to win the series in six games.
- Speaking of playoffs, only once has a Capital recorded 25 or more penalty minutes in a single game. What unfolded was something like a volcano leading up to an eruption. There are tremors and foreboding, and then the explosion. On April 22, 1988, in Game 3 of the Patrick Division final against the New Jersey Devils, Hunter was hit with a roughing penalty 13:50 into the game. Just before the end of the first period, another roughing penalty. At the 2:38 mark of the second period, Hunter was hit with his third roughing penalty. At 8:31 he logged his fourth roughing penalty of the game. But then, in the third period, things took a turn.
By that time, the Devils had gone out to a 9-4 lead. Ten seconds after the Devils recorded their ninth goal at the 9:47 mark, Hunter went off, taking a slashing penalty, an unsportsmanlike conduct, a game misconduct, and a gross misconduct, the last of those penalties for giving referee Denis Morel a “choke” sign as Hunter was leaving the ice. It brought Hunter’s penalty minute total to 32. For the Caps it was, and remains the playoff game in which they allowed the most goals in team history, losing to the Devils by a 10-4 margin.