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Caps History: Washington Capitals Franchise Timeline

A brief history of the first four decades of Washington Capitals Hockey.

by Washington Capitals @Capitals /

June 9, 1972: The NHL grants Abe Pollin the right to bring an expansion franchise to Washington, beginning with the 1974-75 season. Washington and Kansas City become the 17th and 18th NHL clubs, beating out Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas, Indianapolis, Phoenix and San Diego for the right to join the league.

May 28, 1974: Washington chose defenseman Greg Joly with its first pick and the first choice overall in the NHL Amateur Draft.

October 9, 1974: Jim Hrycuik scores the first goal in franchise history but the Caps fall to the New York Rangers by a 6-3 score at Madison Square Garden in the team's first ever regular season game.

October 15, 1974: Yvon Labre scores the team's first home ice goal in a 1-1 tie against Los Angeles.

October 17, 1974: The Capitals record the first regular season victory in franchise history, defeating the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3 at the Capital Centre. Jack Egers supplies the game-winning goal.

February 16, 1975: Goaltender Ron Low notches the first shutout in franchise history with a 3-0 whitewashing of the Kansas City Scouts.

March 28, 1975: The Capitals defeat the California Golden Seals 5-3 at the Cow Palace in Oakland. It is the lone road victory in the team's inaugural season.

March 30, 1975: Ron Lalonde registers the first hat trick in Caps history in an 8-5 loss to Detroit at the Capital Centre.

April 6, 1975: Stan Gilbertson becomes the first Capital to score four goals in a game as Washington downs Pittsburgh 8-4 in the regular season finale of its maiden NHL campaign.

June 1, 1976: The Capitals choose defenseman Rick Green with the first overall pick in the 1976 NHL Amateur Draft.

August 9, 1979: Washington chooses right wing Mike Gartner with its first choice (fourth overall) in the 1979 NHL Entry Draft. Gartner goes on to become the first player drafted by the Capitals to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

November 14, 1979: The Capitals name 26-year-old Gary Green to replace Danny Belisle as the team's head coach. At the time, Green was the youngest head coach in league history.

November 7, 1981: The Capitals retire the uniform No. 7 worn by defenseman Yvon Labre.

November 21, 1981: The Caps record the first double hat trick in team history when Dennis Maruk and Tim Tookey each score three goals in a 10-4 rout of the Philadelphia Flyers.

February 9, 1982: The Capital Centre hosts its only NHL All-Star Game. A sellout crowd of 18,130 watches as the Wales Conference team defeats the Campbell Conference, 4-2. The Caps Dennis Maruk records an assist to aid the Wales' cause.

September 9, 1982: Mere days after taking over as the team's general manager, David Poile makes the trade that is credited with saving NHL hockey in the District. The Caps send Rick Green and Ryan Walter to Montreal for Rod Langway, Brian Engblom, Doug Jarvis and Craig Laughlin.

June 9, 1982: Washington chooses defenseman Scott Stevens with its first choice (fifth overall) in the 1982 NHL Entry Draft. Stevens plays the first eight seasons of a 22-year NHL career in Washington and goes on to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

April 6, 1983: The Caps play the first Stanley Cup playoff game in franchise history, a 5-2 loss to the New York Islanders. Bobby Gould scores Washington's first ever playoff goal.

June 7, 1983: Caps defenseman Rod Langway wins the Norris Trophy, awarded to the NHL's top defenseman. Langway is the first Capital to win a major NHL award and the first American to win the Norris.

January 8, 1984: Washington's Bengt Gustafsson scores five goals on five shots in a 7-1 win over the Flyers in Philadelphia.

February 18, 1984: The Caps defeat the Blues 4-2 in St. Louis for their 10th straight win, still a franchise record.

April 7, 1984: The Capitals hammer Philadelphia 5-1 to complete a sweep of the Flyers in the best-of-five Patrick Division Semifinal series, Washington's first ever playoff series win.

June 4, 1984: Caps blueliner Rod Langway wins his second consecutive Norris Trophy as the NHL's top defenseman, Washington coach Bryan Murray claims the Jack Adams Award as the league's top coach, and Capitals center Doug Jarvis earns the Selke Trophy as the NHL's best defensive forward.

April 18, 1987: The Capitals and New York Islanders play the longest Game 7 in Stanley Cup playoff history at the Capital Centre. New York's Pat Lafontaine scores at 8:47 of the fourth overtime to give the Isles a 3-2 win in the deciding game of the Patrick Division Semifinal series.

June 13, 1987: Washington deals forwards Gaetan Duchesne and Alan Haworth and a first-round pick in the 1987 NHL Entry Draft to Quebec for center Dale Hunter and goalie Clint Malarchuk.

April 16, 1988: Dale Hunter's goal at 5:57 of overtime of Game 7 of the Patrick Division Semifinal gives the Capitals a 5-4 win and Washington its first ever win in a best-of-seven Stanley Cup playoff series.

January 15, 1990: Terry Murray is named to replace brother Bryan as Washington's head coach. Bryan Murray departs with a career mark of 343-246-83 in eight-plus seasons behind the Washington bench.

April 27, 1990: John Druce's overtime goal against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden enables the Caps to oust the Rangers in the Patrick Division Final. Washington advances to the conference final for the first time in franchise history.

October 17, 1990: Caps rookie Peter Bondra scores the first of a franchise record 472 goals he will score in a Washington uniform, victimizing New Jersey's Chris Terreri.

February 5, 1994: Peter Bondra becomes the second Capital to score five goals in a game in a 6-3 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning.

April 24, 1996: Petr Nedved's goal at 19:15 of the fourth overtime gives Pittsburgh a 3-2 win over Washington in the longest playoff game in franchise history.

June 19, 1996: Washington's Jim Carey becomes the first Capitals goaltender to win the Vezina Trophy as the league's best goaltender.

November 26, 1997: Rod Langway's No. 5 sweater is hoisted to the rafters prior to the final game ever at USAir Arena (The Capital Centre), a 6-5 setback at the hands of the Montreal Canadiens.

December 5, 1997: The Capitals christen MCI Center -- their new downtown D.C. home -- with a victory. Jeff Toms' overtime goal enables the Caps to prevail by a 3-2 score over the Florida Panthers.

June 4, 1998: Joe Juneau's overtime goal pushes the Caps past the Buffalo Sabres in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals, propelling Washington to its first ever Stanley Cup final appearance.

May 12, 1999: Abe Pollin announces that he has sold the Capitals and a minority interest in Washington Sports and Entertainment to Ted Leonsis.

March 11, 2000: Dale Hunter's No. 32 sweater is hoisted to the rafters of MCI Center.

June 16, 2000: Olie Kolzig wins the Vezina Trophy as the NHL's top goaltender.

April 6, 2004: Capitals win NHL draft lottery, jumping from third to first in draft order and winning the right to choose first overall in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. 

June 26, 2004: Choosing first overall in the NHL draft for the first time since 1976, the Capitals select left wing Alex Ovechkin.

October 5, 2005: Alex Ovechkin scores two goals in his first NHL game, a 3-2 win over Columbus at Verizon Center.

January 13, 2006: Alex Ovechkin notches his first career hat trick to lead the Caps to a 3-2 overtime win over the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in Anaheim.

January 16, 2006: Alex Ovechkin scores what will forever be known as "The Goal" against the Coyotes in Phoenix.

June 22, 2006: Alex Ovechkin becomes the first Capital to win the Calder Trophy as the NHL's top rookie. Olie Kolzig is given the King Clancy Memorial Trophy for leadership and humanitarian contribution.

November 1, 2006: The Capitals open their new practice facility, the Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington, Va.

June 22, 2007: The Capitals show off their new uniforms at a draft day party held at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex. The new threads harken back to the team's original red, white and blue color scheme with a modernized version of the original logo.

June 12, 2008: Alex Ovechkin became the first player in NHL history to win the Hart Trophy (league MVP), Art Ross Trophy (leading scorer), Lester B. Pearson Award (MVP as voted by players) and Maurice Richard Trophy (leading goal scorer) all in the same year. Caps coach Bruce Boudreau wins the Jack Adams Trophy, becoming the second Caps coach to earn the honor.

April 28, 2009: Sergei Fedorov's third-period goal gives the Caps a 2-1 win in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series and their first series win in Stanley Cup play in 11 years. It is Washington's first win in a Game 7 in more than 21 years.

May 4, 2009: Alex Ovechkin records his first Stanley Cup playoff hat trick -- and the first by a Capital in more than 16 years -- in a 4-3 win over Pittsburgh.

June 18, 2009: Alex Ovechkin is named winner of the Hart Trophy, Lester B. Pearson Award and Maurice Richard Trophy, winning each for the second straight year.

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