Capitals Alumni Profile: Doug Jarvis

Doug Jarvis Caps
Photo: NHL

A recent suspension of Anaheim Ducks forward Andrew Cogliano ended the durable forward’s consecutive games played streak at 830 games, the All-Time Games Played streak of former Washington Capitals player, Doug Jarvis, remains unchallenged, even more than 20 years after Jarvis retired.  Jarvis currently holds the “iron man” record with 964 games played. In NoVa Caps’ latest Capitals Alumni Profile, Diane Doyle takes a look back at Jarvis’ Capitals career.

Early Life

Douglas McArthur Jarvis was born on March 24, 1955, in Brantford, Ontario, the place best known as Wayne Gretzky’s birthplace. He played his major junior hockey for the Petersborough Petes in the Ontario Hockey Association (OHA), starting with the 1972-1973 season and ending three seasons later, playing under Coach Roger Nielson. While playing with the Petes, he improved each season, scoring 20 goals and adding 49 assists during the 1972-73 season, 31 goals and 53 assists during the 1973-74 season, and 45 goals and 88 assists during the 1974-75 season. He was considered a key player for the Petes, as he took important faceoffs and played on special teams.

Getting Drafted and Montreal Canadiens Career

When he became eligible for the NHL Entry Draft in 1975, he was not a heralded player or projected as a first-round pick.  One reason was because of his size, as he stood only 5’9” and weighed 170 pounds.  He was also considered to not have any offensive upside and was also considered a long shot to make it to the NHL. On June 3, he was drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs, who chose him in the second round, with the 24th overall pick.  Jarvis was excited by that news, given that he lived about an hour away from Toronto and had followed the Leafs while growing up.  However, just 23 days later, Toronto traded him to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for defenseman, Greg Hubick.  Unbeknownst to him, the Canadiens’ Head Coach, Scotty Bowman, had lobbied Montreal to draft him.  Roger Nielson, his coach at Petersborough, had tipped off Bowman about his great faceoff abilities, claiming he was the best in the world and not just in junior hockey.  However, Montreal’s General Manager, Sam Pollock, did not draft him.  But Bowman’s pestering of Pollock paid off in the long run, as Montreal ended up acquiring Jarvis in a trade less than a month later.  The trade turned out to be a great trade for Montreal and a terrible one for the Leafs as Hubick played just one season for Toronto before being sent to the minor leagues.

That September, Jarvis wowed everyone at his first NHL training camp.  The Canadiens figured he would be one of the last cuts from training camp, as they had every intention of letting him develop in the minor leagues, as was the norm.  However, the Canadiens star center, Jacques Lemaire was injured late in training camp, which allowed Jarvis to remain with the Habs for the start of the season and was never sent to the minors.  He found a home centering a line with fellow defensive standout, Bob Gainey, and veteran  Jim Roberts, which became a top checking-line and great penalty killers.

In Jarvis’ own words, “I was pretty fortunate. Montreal was looking for a specific person. They were looking for a checking center-ice man and there was a role that they wanted filled. Even though I had come out of junior with a fair amount of offensive points, really my strength lay in the fact that in junior I was expected to do a fair amount of checking, as well. I kind of learned the game from that angle. I had already had some schooling in that aspect of the game when I got to the NHL. So I was able to catch a spot with them and work into the group.”

His rookie year was not outstanding, from a personal statistics standpoint, as he scored five goals and had 30 assists, however, he played all 80 games that season.  It was a great year for the Canadiens, as they compiled a 58-11-11 record, finished first in the Norris Division and went on to win the Stanley Cup that year against the Philadelphia Flyers.  In his remaining years with Montreal, he scored between 10-20 goals.  The Canadiens won the Cup in each of the first four years that Jarvis was with the team, beating the Flyers in 1976, the Boston Bruins in 1977 and 1978, and the New York Rangers in 1979.  During that time frame, the Canadiens finished first in the Norris Division for the regular season and also compiled the most points overall, in the 1975-76, 1976-77, and 1977-78 seasons.  During that time frame, Jarvis and his linemates were key contributors to the Canadiens’ Stanley Cup teams.  He remained with the Canadiens three more years and while the Canadiens would finish first in their division, they would not advance far in the playoffs.

He played in 560 games for the Canadiens, missing no games during those seven seasons, scoring 91 goals, recording 154 assists, and 245 points overall.  His Plus/Minus rating was plus-105 which is great, considering he and his linemates would generally play against the opponents’ best players.

Trade to Washington Capitals

On September 9, 1982, the Canadiens traded him, along with forward Craig Laughlin, and defensemen Rod Langway and Brian Engblom to the Washington Capitals, in exchange for forward Ryan Walter and defenseman Rick Green.  This trade is considered to be one of the best trades in the history of the Capitals and boosted the fortunes of the then-sagging Washington franchise.

In Jarvis’ own words about the trade, “That summer, before we came, I know there as a big ‘Save The Caps’ campaign. We really didn’t know what we were walking into. But after meeting with David Poile and seeing the type of man he was and what he wanted to accomplish here, I think we all got on board and got excited about the team. And really, when I look back on my three and a half years here, we really had enjoyable times seeing the team go from a non-playoff team to a team that all of a sudden was recording over a hundred points a season. It was fun to be part of that kind of a building process.”

Washington Capitals Career

Jarvis won the Selke Trophy during his second year with the Capitals, a trophy awarded to the best defensive forward in the league. To this day, he remains the only Capital to ever receive the award.  When he arrived in Washington, his consecutive games played streak stood at 560 games.  During his time with the Caps, he passed Johnny Wilson, uncle of Capitals Head Coach Ron Wilson, on the consecutive games played leader board. After his third season with the Caps, his streak stood at 800 games, as he had not missed a single game in ten NHL seasons.

His offensive statistics were not as good with the Caps as they were with Montreal, as he scored eight goals with 22 assists in 1982-83, 13 goals with 29 assists in 1983-84, and nine goals with 28 assists in 1984-85.

During the early part of the 1985-86 season, the Caps traded him to the Hartford Whalers in exchange for Jorgen Petterson.  The Caps made the deal to try to infuse more youth into their lineup.  During his tenure with the Capitals, he scored 31 goals and added 81 assists for 112 total points in 265 games.

An interesting fact: his cousin, Wes Jarvis, also played with the Caps but they were never teammates. Wes Jarvis played parts of the 1979-80, 1880-81, and 1981-82 seasons with the Caps. Wes went on to become a business partner with Mike Gartner, a Hall of Famer who was a longtime member of the Caps, as they owned three skating rinks in the greater Toronto area.

Remainder of Career

He finished out the 1985-86 season with the Whalers, scoring eight goals with 16 assists.  During the 1986-87 season, he had nine goals and 13 assists. On December 26, 1986, he eclipsed Garry Unger’s record of 914 consecutive NHL games played.  Because of this achievement, he was awarded the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy in 1986-87, a trophy awarded every year for persistence and dedication. Compiling an ironman streak was especially amazing, considering he was an undersized, checking line center.

His own streak lasted until early in the 1987-88 season. The Whalers made him a healthy scratch for a game on October 11, 1987 against Boston and the iron man streak ended at 964 consecutive games played.  Once the streak was broken, he never played in another NHL game. After being a permanent scratch, he was appointed as player-assistant coach for Hartford’s minor league affiliate in Binghamton.  He played 24 games with Binghamton before retiring as a player after that season.

Post-Hockey Career

Just before the 1988-89 season, the Minnesota North Stars hired him to an assistant coach under Head Coach Pierre Page.  Just two seasons later, the North Stars hired Jarvis’ old linemate, Bob Gainey, to be Head Coach and General Manager.  They helped the North Stars make the Stanley Cup Final in 1991, where they lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins.  He remained an assistant coach with the North Stars, even when they relocated to Dallas and were renamed the Stars.  He stayed with the franchise for fourteen seasons, and was behind the bench in 1999, when the Stars won the first Stanley Cup in franchise history.  His fourteen-year tenure with the North Stars/Stars is the longest ever an assistant coach has ever remained with the same team.

Jarvis coached the Canadiens’ farm team, the Hamilton Bulldogs, from 2003-2005, and, after that, became an assistant coach eith the Canadiens, until he was dismissed in 2009.  After that, he was hired as an assistant coach by the Boston Bruins.  He is currently an assistant coach with the Vancouver Canucks.

Further Reading
Take the Langway Home: The Trade That Saved the Washington Capitals
Biography of Him on Capitals Website
Hockey Hall of Fame Legends of Hockey Biography
Bryan Murray and the Washington Capitals’ 1982-1983 Season

Check out NoVa Caps’ other Alumni Profiles here.

About Diane Doyle

Been a Caps fan since November 1975 when attending a game with my then boyfriend and now husband.
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