Known for his trademark handle-bar mustache, small physical stature and staggering offensive numbers, Dennis Maruk found a permanent home in the hearts of Washington-area fans as well as the team's record book during his five-year stint with the Capitals.
At 5-foot-8 and 175 pounds, the feisty center, known to his teammates as Pee-Wee, made up for his lack of size with grittiness and determination. After averaging more than 30 goals over his first three NHL seasons and proving he could measure up physically to even his biggest opponents, he was summoned by Capitals general manager Max McNab in a trade with Minnesota in order bolster Washington's flailing offense.
Joining the Capitals just days into the 1978-79 season, Maruk didn't disappoint, leading the team in assists and points and tying for the lead in goals with 31. Although the team continued its playoff drought, they had set a team record with 273 goals and escaped the basement of the division, finishing in fourth place.
After an injury-hampered second season with the Capitals, Maruk came roaring back with a remarkable 1980-81 season, becoming the club's first 50-goal scorer while adding 47 assists for a team-high 97 points. Along with line-mates Bob Kelly and Jean Pronovost, the high scoring "Roaring 20's"line, based on their jersey numbers, collected 96 goals as the Capitals broke the 300-goal mark for the first time.
Maruk most notable season came in 1982-83 when he practically wrote the team's record books, most of which are still in place today, and left an indelible mark on the history of the franchise. In 80 games that year, he recorded an astonishing 60 goals, 76 assists and 136 points, all Capitals single-season records, while also leading the team with a then-record 20 power play tallies.
That season, only Wayne Gretzky and Mike Bossy scored more goals as Maruk went on to finish fourth overall in league scoring, earning him a place in the NHL All-Star Game. Since then only one player in Capitals history, Mike Gartner in 1984-85, has ever produced more than 100 points in a season.
Maruk played his last season with the Capitals in 1982-83, when he again broke the 30-goal mark and helped the team to their first playoff appearance, before being traded back to the North Stars in July, 1983. Over his final six NHL campaigns, all with Minnesota, he never came close to replicating the numbers he produced during his time in Washington. He finished his career with 356 goals and 522 assists in 888 games.