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Captain Clark Re-Ups for Three-Year Tour

by Mike Vogel / Washington Capitals
Prior to joining the Capitals in an August 2005 trade with Calgary, the last thing Chris Clark did on an NHL ice surface was help the Flames reach the Stanley Cup finals. He was a bit jarred to learn he had been dealt to the Capitals, but not quite two years later that feeling is forgotten. Clark and the Capitals have agreed to a three-year contract extension that has the right wing in the fold through the 2010-11 season.

Almost as soon as Clark first donned a Capitals’ sweater, it was apparent he would one day be the team’s captain. In his first preseason game as a Cap, he went after Buffalo’s Andrew Peters, a 6-foot-4, 247-pounder who had just rag-dolled Washington’s Miroslav Zalesak into the wall from behind. Four inches shorter and 50 pounds lighter, Clark jumped right into the fray on his first night in his new sweater, going to the aid of a guy he barely knew, a guy who would be headed back to Europe for the season a few weeks later.

That deed made an impression on bench boss Glen Hanlon, who noted it as the one positive in the wake of Washington’s somnambulant 4-0 setback that night.

Last season, he did that episode one better. In the waning moments of a 2-2 tie game with Boston in November, Clark and his teammates were stuck on the ice and in the defensive zone for a particularly long shift when a Brian Pothier clearing attempt ramped up the shaft of Clark’s stick and struck him flush in the mouth. Although the incident crushed his palate and knocked out a pair of teeth, he stayed on the ice and in the play until the puck was out of the zone.

That’s the kind of guy you want as your captain and leader, and the Caps have ensured that they’ve got the 31-year-old native of Windsor, Conn. sewn up for the next four seasons. Clark signed a two-year extension just before the conclusion of the 2005-06 season.

Just prior to his second season with Washington, Clark was named the 13th captain in franchise history. After the conclusion of Washington’s 2006-07 season, Clark was named to represent his country in the IIHF World Championship Tournament in Moscow. Some seven months after he was named to captain the Capitals, Clark was given the captain’s “C” for Team USA. Although the Americans did not win a medal, they were a young, upstart team with a great deal of skill that played with a lot of passion every night. Clark saw similarities between his stewardship of the two teams.

“Almost identical,” he says when asked to compare the two captaincies. “I’m one of the older players on the team, one of the guys with more experience. This team is very similar to the Washington team. They’re young, they’re very talented and the upside is great. I compare them to our team in Washington.”

The Flames’ third-round pick (77th overall) in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft, Clark debuted in the NHL with Calgary in 1999-00. He totaled one point (an assist) in his 22 games that season. His point total has increased in each of his six NHL seasons since. After joining the Capitals, Clark blossomed offensively. In 278 games with Calgary, Clark totaled 35 goals (including nine on the power play) and 71 points. In just 152 games with Washington, Clark has racked up 50 goals (only 10 of them on the power play) and 93 points. He totaled 10 goals in 2003-04, his final season as a Flame. He upped that total to 20 in 2005-06 and increased it by 10 more when he netted 30 for Washington last season.

Clark skated an average of 18:25 a night with Washington in 2006-07, easily a career high. His best ice time average from his five seasons in Calgary was 14:23 in 2002-03. He has earned more ice time in all situations since joining the Capitals, and has tallied seven of his eight career shorthanded goals since coming to the District.

Before the trade that brought him to Washington, Clark had played more than 20 minutes in a game only three times in his NHL career. All three of those games were during the 2004 Stanley Cup playoffs, and two of those contests were overtime games. Since coming to Washington, Clark has exceeded the 20-minute mark on 20 occasions.

Having committed to the Caps for the next four seasons, Clark hopes to help usher Washington back to the playoffs and on to the Stanley Cup finals during the span of his contract. The Flames lost that 2004 Stanley Cup final series, but Clark plans on winning it next time round.

Chris Clark Ice Time Stats

Season Ice Time ES Time SH Time PP Time Team Rank (IT)
2006-07 18:25 12:08 2:44 3:31 5th
2005-06 15:24 10:58 3:34 0:51 11th
2003-04 14:04 11:04 1:55 1:04 17th
2002-03 14:23 11:31 1:33 1:14 14th
2001-02 13:57 11:13 1:37 1:01 17th
2000-01 11:56 10:13 0:57 0:45 22nd
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