Photo: Washington Capitals
Calle Johansson was drafted by the Buffalo Sabres 14th overall in the 1985 NHL Entry Draft. Before coming to the Capitals, Johansson played 118 games in a Sabres sweater. In his second season in Buffalo, he was traded to the Caps along with a second-round pick in the 1989 NHL Entry Draft (which would later be used on goalie Byron Dafoe) for Grant Ledyard, Clint Malarchuk, and a sixth-round pick in the 1991 NHL Entry Draft (which would be used to select Brian Holzinger).
In his first full season with the Capitals in 1989-90, he had a solid season, scoring 39 points (eight goals, 31 assists) in 70 games played. Over the next 14 seasons, Johansson would continue piling up points and games for the Caps, and in doing so, would become the franchise leader in games played and rank first in franchise history in points and assists by a defenseman, and third in goals scored. He also played a large role in the team’s run to the 1998 Stanley Cup Final.
Johansson finished his Capitals career with 113 goals and 361 assists for 474 points in 983 games played. After leaving the Capitals, Johansson attempted an NHL comeback with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2003-04, playing just eight games before retiring for good. In 2012, then-newly hired Caps head coach Adam Oates (a former Capitals teammate of Johansson) brought Johansson on to head the defense. Under his guidance, defensemen such as John Carlson, Karl Alzner, and Mike Green continued to grow as players. After Oates was fired in 2014, Johansson and his family returned to Sweden so that his daughter could finish school.
Johansson’s legacy in Washington will not soon be forgotten. Despite having sported some offensively talented blueliners that have come through the organization since his departure, there may never be another blueliner like Johansson in Caps history. And perhaps one day, Johansson’s sweater number 6 may join the likes of Rod Langway, Mike Gartner, Dale Hunter, and Yvon Labre in the Verizon Center rafters.
By Michael Fleetwood