With reports of Washington’s young-uns Marcus Johansson and Anton Gustafsson taking the ice this morning over at Kettler Capitals Iceplex, Capitals Rookie Camp is closer than an Alex Semin shot to the back of the net during the playoffs. If we did our math correctly, which is a possibility being that we only need to use one hand, there are 5 days remaining before camp commencement. Today we examine the players of Capitals’ past who donned sweater numbers 40-49.
Much like numbers before, we are able to eliminate several off the bat:
The 41 can be eliminated as Patrick Boileau, Brian Sutherby, Mike Farrell, Louis Robitaille all switched to other numbers as soon as possible, 42/48/49 may be eliminated since they were only worn for 53 total games between 6 people, and 43 can be removed for a combination of both (David Harlock suiting up for a mere 6 games and Tomas Fleischmann‘s move to the 14). And while Bryan Muir played valiantly in the 47 at the end of a journeyman career, I look to my roots as a hockey fan for today’s winner: 44.
Hard-hitting defenseman Igor Ulanov was the first to wear the 44 in Washington, after having been picked up in a trade with the Winnipeg Jets. Six months (and 5 games) later Ulanov was on the move once again without ever having a chance to show the DC faithful what he was capable of on the blue line.
Richard Zednik was the next Capital to don the 44, and although often plagued with injuries his speed and goal-scoring ability quickly lead him to become a fan favorite. His 7 goals, 3 assists and 10 points in 17 games set Caps’ rookie playoff records, and placed him tied for the most in the franchise as the team raced to the 1997-98 Stanley Cup final. Zednik might be most remembered by DC101’s publicity stunt for “Zed-Heads,” when several hundred fans dyed their hair blonde to match Zednik’s off-season hair coloration (and the nifty Eminem based theme song they used). Before his second stint with the team in 2006-07, Zednik tallied 126 goals and 53 assists in 256 games.
Drafted by the Capitals in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft, Steve Eminger was the next to dress in the 44. While his early seasons with the club failed to live up to the hype that surrounded him, the physical defenseman seemed to redeem himself during the 2008 playoffs as he stepped into a larger role due to injury. Fans might most remember Eminger stepping up to the call in Game 4 of the series, when he gave the Capitals the temporary 3-2 lead on their first shot of the third period.
44 is rounded out by Staffan Kronwall, a hulking defenseman the Capitals picked up on waivers midway during the 2008-09 season. After failing to find a place among the club, and only 3 games with the Capitals 17 with the Hershey Bears), Kronwall was not re-signed during free agency by the club. While he did not leave a lasting memory on the club, he came at a grat value to the Caps with a total cap hit of about $89,000.
40: Tony Cassolato (1981-82), Mark Ferner (1990), Steve Seftel (1991), Steve Konowalchuk (1992), Todd Nelson (1994), Mike Rosati (1998-99), Nolan Yonkman (2002-06), Semyon Varlamov (2008-10)
41: Jason Allison (1994-97), Patrick Boileau (1998-99), Brian Sutherby (2001), Mike Farrell (2002), Brad Norton (2004), Louis Robitaille (2005-06)
42: Dwayne Hay (1997), Sami Lepisto (2008-09)
43: David Harlock (1998), Tomas Fleischmann (2005-08), Bryan Helmer (2008-09)
44: Igor Ulanov (1995), Richard Zednik (1996-01), Steve Eminger (2002, 2005-08), Staffan Kronwall (2009)
45: Patrick Boileau (1997), Alex Henry (2002-03), Jonas Johansson (2005-06)
46: Brian Sutherby (2002-04), Joe Motzko (2007)
47: Michael Farrell (2001), Bryan Muir (2005-07), Karl Alzner (2008-09)
48: Benoit Gratton (1998-99), Chris Corrinet (2001-02), Oskar Osala (2008-09)
49: Dwayne Zinger (2003)