One week is all that stands between us and the start of the Washington Capitals’ rookie training camp. The excitement is as tangible as the hair gel in Mike Green‘s ‘do. Keeping with this week’s theme, we’ve formulated a way to help count down the remaining days. Join us as we take a trip through the Caps’ 36-year history by unveiling our choices for the most prolific sweater number by the tens. Digit selection will be based upon a myriad of attributes including skill, golf handicap, significance to the club, mystique, ability to tune a piano, and any other traits we deem fit.
Sweater numbers 70 through 79 have not been worn often by Capitals, but one number stands out from the group, and that is #77. Even though the number was recently tainted by Joe Corvo, his 2 goals and 6 points alone was enough to make #77 stand above Darcy Verot (#76), Chris Hajt (#75), Brantt Myhres (#74), and David Steckel (2005-06) and Braden Holtby (#70), who have a combined 2 assists in 54 games wearing a 70’s jersey.
In addition to Corvo, the #77 was worn by one-time team captain Adam Oates, making it a very special number in team history. Acquired from the Boston Bruins on March 1, 1997, Adam Oates had to give up wearing the number 12 as it was occupied by the man who he would be setting up for so many goals, Peter Bondra. He took #77 in homage to his good friend and former Bruin teammate Ray Bourque, and never looked back. In his first full season in DC, Oates potted 58 assists (5th in NHL) and 76 points (13th in NHL) as he helped Peter Bondra tie for the league lead with 52 goals. Oates also excelled in the playoffs, tying a team record with 17 points as he helped the Caps advance to the Stanley Cup Final. Oates went on to lead the league in assists twice with the Caps, in 2000-01 (69) and 2001-02 (64) and averaged .73 assists/game with the club – a hair under this’ eras natural set-up man Nicklas Backstrom (.77).
We are happy to honor number 77, because try as he might, not even Corvo’s uninspired half-season of play in the 77 could soil the legacy Oates bestowed upon it.