WASHINGTON -- The Washington Capitals began celebrating their 40th anniversary season Thursday when they faced off against the Montreal Canadiens in their season opener at Verizon Center. It was an occasion to savor, considering the franchise's struggles during its first decade.
The Capitals finished last in their division in six of their first eight seasons. Their first-season won-lost mark of 8-67-5 represents the NHL single-season records for fewest wins and points (21) in a season.
The on-ice struggles led to low fan turnout and interest. Owner Abe Pollin threatened relocation.
But the Capitals ultimately stayed in Washington, with a big assist from a September 1982 trade with the Canadiens that brought defenseman and future Hall of Famer Rod Langway to Washington.
"[Craig Laughlin and I] get on the phone to our agents," Langway recalled, "and we said, 'Are we sure we want to be here?'"