There have been many feel-good stories out of the Washington Capitals organization over the team’s 41-year history, and former captain Jeff Halpern was one of them.
In two separate stints with the team, the Potomac, Maryland native was a true success story. Halpern was born just two years after the Caps came into existence and his father would drive him nearly 300 miles to Bridgeport, Connecticut for evening practices. He is known for his strong Jewish faith and when he was a player he would sit out games that fell on the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur. He has also been inducted into the Greater Washington (D.C.) Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. In 2005, Halpern tragically lost his mother, aunt, and uncle in a car crash.
Undrafted in 1999, Halpern overcame his small size (6’0″) and signed with the Capitals, playing 79 games his rookie season, registering 29 points (18 goals, 11 assists). His second season showed more potential, as he scored 21 goals and added 21 assists for 42 points in 80 games played. He set a career-high in points in the 2003-04 season with 46 (19 goals, 27 assists). In his final season in his first stint with the club, Halpern was named team captain and played with rookie sensation Alex Ovechkin, assisting on Ovechkin’s first career goal and finishing the year with 44 points (11 goals, 33 assists) in 80 games played. He then signed a four-year contract with the Dallas Stars, but never regained the scoring touch he had in Washington.
During the 2011 offseason, Halpern rejoined the Caps on a one-year, $825,000 contract. The move was welcomed by fans, as Halpern had been a fan favorite during his first go-around with the team. He played 69 games for the Capitals, scoring just four goals and 16 points. In two stints with the team, Halpern recorded 91 goals and 139 assists for 230 points in 507 games played.
After leaving the Caps in 2012, Halpern played for the New York Rangers, Phoenix/Arizona Coyotes, and Montreal Canadiens, finally retiring in 2014; he finished his NHL career with 373 points (152 goals, 221 assists) in 976 games played. Halpern’s leadership and commitment to his hometown helped him become an established NHL player and made him a favorite in the District. He now serves as a player development coach for the Syracuse Crunch, AHL affiliate of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Halpern assisted the Capitals last summer during the team’s annual development camp and was hired by Syracuse shortly afterward.
Hockey isn’t the only business Halpern is involved in: he also owns his own doughnut shop/restaurant, Astro Doughnuts and Fried Chicken, which has locations in D.C. and Falls Church, Virginia, and also has a food truck. Follow them on Twitter and Instagram.
By Michael Fleetwood