Now standing 9 days from the Washington Capitals’ rookie camp commencement, hockey is so close we can almost taste it. A teaser of information was released yesterday, ticket availability for the end-of-camp scrimmage against the Philadelphia Flyers‘ rookies, but that alone is not enough to suppress the need for the game. Continuing with our countdown our choices for the most prolific sweater number by the tens, today we examine 80-89 – and proclaim the most prolific of the lot. Digit selection will be based upon a plethora of qualities including skill, significance to the club, food preference at an all-you-can eat buffet, nostalgia, and any other traits we deem fit.
Sweater numbers 80 through 89 are generally reserved for AHL call-up’s whose number is claimed by a member of the parent club in advance. The Caps are no different in this aspect, with three Hershey Bears having to endure a number adaption including 21 to 83 (Jay Beagle, 2 seasons), 24 to 85 (Mathieu Perreault, 1 season), and 5 to 89 (Tyler Sloan, 2 seasons). This makes it easy for one number, 87, to rise above the three previously mentioned digits.
In sweater number 87, Donald Brashear played twice as many games for Washington as Beagle, Perreault, and Sloan combined. It can also be argued that his involvement as an enforcer with the club was an important cog, albeit small, in Washington’s hockey renaissance. As the hockey lifers were enthralled with the Caps’ new playmaker, Alex Ovechkin, hockey novices had the pleasure of tuning in to watch Brash defend him.
A veteran when he was signed, Brashear was the best at what he does, and was one of the few enforcers that truly understood how his abilities could be used to benefit his squad by swinging the momentum in their favor. He also spent time training under former world heavyweight champ Joe Frazier to ensure he could square off righty or southpaw, as well as learn the mechanics of using an opponents’ movements against them.
Permanently overlooked by his ability to throw a punch, Brashear’s skating and stick handling abilities were above average for someone his size (6’3″, 240 lbs.). While he might not have found the scorers book every night, he occasionally saw the “big piece of cheese.” Further placing him on a pedistal among his peers, his 25 points with DC is more than that of Beagle, Sloan and Perreault combined once again (22).
Overcoming tradgedy and abuse as a youth, Brashear was recognized for his efforts in the 87 by being nominated to The Hockey News’ All-Decade Team. As a free agent but not retired, he currently sits atop the NHL’s list of active players for penalties in minutes with 2,634 including 414 PIM’s in 3 seasons with the Capitals – 1.81 per game.
80: Brett Leonhardt (December 12, 2008)
83: Jay Beagle (2009-10)
85: Mathieu Perreault (2010)
89: Tyler Sloan (2009-10)