Since the Washington Capitals entered the NHL in 1974, the team has been in the Stanley Cup Finals just twice: back in 1998 and now in 2018. And during the team’s 43-year history, there have been only a handful of offbeat Capitals hockey cards. Here are eight such cards of Capitals players that are so fun, strange or ridiculous that they just have to be shared.
1975-76 Topps #189 – Bill Clement
Bill Clement was traded from the Flyers to the Capitals over the summer of 1975. He went from the Stanley Cup Champions to the worst team in the NHL. Adding salt to the wound was that someone at Topps decided to repaint the photo used for Clement’s 1975-76 hockey card — well, half of the photo. Clement’s upper body has a Caps jersey shoddily painted on him, while his lower half is still in Flyers black and orange. What makes it even worse is that there are Capitals players already in the photo, making Clement look even more silly by comparison. (More about this card here.)
2. Mr. Jagr Goes to Washington
2001-02 Upper Deck #178 – Jaromir Jagr
When Jaromir Jagr was traded from the Penguins to the Capitals in July of 2001, Upper Deck decided that a press conference photo wouldn’t cut it. To really drive the point home that Jagr was now with Washington, Upper Deck photographed Jagr chillaxin’ in front of the White House.
3. Hot-Diggity Dog
1995-96 Pinnacle card #134 – Olaf Kolzig
One of the funniest hockey cards from the 1990s is of Caps goalie Olaf Kolzig holding up a hot dog — with his name written in mustard! According to Kolzig, it was the photographer’s idea. Also, Kolzig claims that he did not eat the hot dog.
4. Alexander Goal-Vechkin
2005-06 Parkhurst #588 – Alexander Ovechkin (Season Highlights)
Alexander Ovechkin has scored over 600 goals in the regular season, but none may be more memorable than the one that he scored against the Phoenix Coyotes on January 16, 2006. Still a rookie, Ovechkin gets knocked to the ice while trying to power his way around a Coyotes defenseman, but still puts the puck in the net — while lying on his back. Even Wayne Gretzky, the Coyotes coach at the time, was in awe. If you don’t think this was the Goal of the Century, let me ask you this: how many times is a regular season goal commemorated on its own trading card?
5. The King and I
1991-92 Pro Set Platinum #292 – Larry King (Celebrity Captain)
During the 1991-92 season, which was the NHL’s 75th Anniversary, each team had its own “Celebrity Captain.” Some Celebrity Captains were former players, others were musicians, actors or TV personalities. The Capitals tabbed Larry King, whose popular show “Larry King Live,” was broadcast from D.C., to be their Celebrity Captain. Pro Set included cards of some of the Celebrity Captains in its 1991-92 Pro Set Platinum Hockey set. (As a side note, King would narrate the hockey documentary “Only the Dead Know the Brooklyn Americans” in 2017.)
6. Resistance is Futile
1996-97 Fleer Metal Universe #163 – Sergei Gonchar
The 1996-97 Fleer Metal Universe set is so ridiculous that I dedicated an entire podcast to it. Cards use photos of NHL players superimposed into weird, otherworldly settings — such as a swarm of flying eyeballs or inside the nucleus of an atom. Sergei Gonchar here has a frickin’ laser beam attached to his head, probably because he was assimilated by the Borg.
7. Check, Please
1991 Arena Draft Picks #11 – Pat Peake
Why is Pat Peake dressed like a waiter? No, the Capitals didn’t make their first-round pick from the 1991 Draft wait tables at a five-star steakhouse as some sort of rookie initiation. Peake and 31 other top prospects from 1991 — but not the top prospect Eric Lindros — were in a trading card set called Arena Draft Picks. Instead of paying the NHL for the rights to show the players wearing the jerseys of the NHL teams that drafted them, Arena opted to have the players suit up…in suits. Because kids love pictures of hockey players dressed like the wait staff from an upscale restaurant.
8. It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s…
2009-10 Collector’s Choice Warriors of the Ice #W1 – Alex Ovechkin
Ant Man is going to wish he never met Super Ovechkin!
Which Caps card is your favorite? Or is there one that you think should be on this list? Leave a comment and let me know. ■
Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk.