The Mask: The Short, Eventful Capitals Career of Jim Carey

Jim Carey Capitals
Photo: Washington Capitals

Throughout their 42-year history, the Capitals have had their fair share of one-hit wonders, players who have tremendous seasons and become a household name one year, only to regress and fall into anonymity. Jim Carey was one such player.

Drafted by the Capitals in the second round (32nd overall) of the 1992 NHL Entry Draft, Carey made his NHL debut in 1994-95, when he posted an impressive 18-6-3 record in 28 games played to go along with a goals-against average (GAA) of 2.13 and a save percentage of .913 and four shutouts. Only 20-years old, he finished as the runner-up for the Calder Memorial Trophy (Rookie of the Year) and third in Vezina Trophy (Best goalie) voting. With the promising play of fellow netminder Olaf Kolzig, Carey was forced to share playing time with the former first round pick. His arrival and subsequent rookie season came with much fanfare, as he earned the nicknames “The Mask”, “Ace”, and “Net Detective” after popular movies starring his namesake, actor Jim Carrey.

Entering his second season in the District, Carey seemed to have the starting job locked up. In 71 games played, he compiled a record of 35-24-9, a GAA of 2.26, save percentage of .906, and nine shutouts. Due to his strong season, he was awarded the Vezina Trophy, after the season, becoming the first goalie in franchise history to win the award and he finished eighth in Hart Memorial Trophy (league MVP) voting. Despite Kolzig’s promise, it seemed the Caps had found their netminder of the future.

After impressing in his first two years in the NHL, Carey’s career took a nosedive the following season posting an abysmal 17-18-3 record with a .893 save percentage, 2.75 GAA, and one shutout in 40 games with the Caps before he was traded to the Boston Bruins along with Anson Carter, Jason Allison, and 1997 third round pick (later used by Boston on Lee Goren) for Bill Ranford, Adam Oates, and Rick Tocchet. In 19 games played with the Bruins, he posted an even worse 5-13-0 record, a .871 save percentage, and a 3.82 GAA.

After that, Carey played just 10 more games for Boston posting a 3-2-1 record, .893 save percentage, 2.70 GAA, and two shutouts before signing with St. Louis in the 1998 offseason. He would play a meager four games for the Blues, with a record of 1-2-0, .829 save percentage, and 3.86 GAA. He would retire after the season at the age of 24.

Carey is a perfect example of how quickly things can turn for an NHL player. If the Caps would have signed him to a big-money extension after his Vezina-winning season, they would’ve been paying him an exorbitant amount of money for mediocre results. Imagine if Carey would have stayed. Olaf Kolzig would never have gotten his chance to prove himself and the Caps may not have made it to the 1998 Stanley Cup Final. Luckily, they made the right decision.

By Michael Fleetwood

About Michael Fleetwood

Michael Fleetwood was born into a family of diehard Capitals fans and has been watching games as long as he can remember. He was born the year the Capitals went to their first Stanley Cup Final, and is a diehard Caps fan, the owner of the very FIRST Joe Beninati jersey and since then, has met Joe himself. Michael joined the NoVa Caps team in 2015, and is most proud of the growth of the NoVa Caps community in that time. An avid photographer, Michael resides in VA.
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2 Responses to The Mask: The Short, Eventful Capitals Career of Jim Carey

  1. Peter Wolfe says:

    As I recall, after his big regular season, Carey had a poor playoff. That was the start of his downfall.

  2. Pingback: Master of the Mask: Braden Holtby Continues to Build His Legacy with Another Stromg Season | NoVa Caps

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