A Deuce, Then A Dud: Washington Capitals Two-Year Wonders

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NHL

Any fans of music know that there are some artists who seemingly come out of nowhere to have one mega-hit song, but could never replicate the same success in any of their subsequent works. Every NHL team has had players who have been so-called “one-hit wonders”, or players who had a significantly better season than any other in his career.  In some cases, a player might have two great years but the rest of his career is not up to the same standard. In a previous piece, NoVa Caps’ Diane Doyle discussed the “one-year wonders”  in the history of the Washington Capitals. This piece details the “two-year wonders” who have played with the Washington Capitals over the franchise’s 46-year  history. These are players who burned brightly for the Caps for a two-year period of time but faded into obscurity following this time frame. As with the “one-year” wonders, this piece concentrates on forwards who scored at least 20 goals during their best season.

Nelson Pyatt – The Washington Capitals acquired Nelson Pyatt from the Detroit Red Wings during the 1974-75 season. His first full season with the Caps was also his first full campaign in the NHL. He made the most out of this opportunity by scoring 26 goals with 23 assists for 49 points in his full debut campaign. The Capitals then traded Pyatt after the season to the Colorado Rockies in exchange for Guy Charron. His first season with the Rockies was similar to his first in Washington, as he scored 23 goals and recorded 22 assists for 45 points.  Those two seasons proved to be the height of his career, as his highest goal total after these two productive campaigns was nine goals in 1977-78.  The 1979-80 season was Pyatt’s last in the NHL.

Hartland MonahanHartland Monahan played with the Capitals during the 1975-76 and 1976-77 seasons.  In 1975-76 ( his first full NHL season) he scored 17 goals and recorded 29 assists for 46 points, followed by 23 goals and 27 assists for 50 points a season later. However, Monahan never approached those numbers again, with his best season being a 12-goal season in 1977-78, that was split between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Los Angeles Kings. On a hockey-related note, he was married to the daughter of hockey great, Bernie “Boom Boom” Geoffrion.

Guy CharronGuy Charron signed with the Capitals as a free agent prior to the 1976-77 season after several seasons with the Montreal Canadiens, Detroit Red Wings, and Kansas City Scouts, the last two of whom were perennial bottom feeders in the league standings. His best season prior to joining the Caps was the 1975-76 season, in which he scored 27 goals and added 44 assists. He improved his totals greatly during the 1976-77 season by scoring 36 goals and recording 46 assists for 82 points, followed by 38 goals and 35 assists for 73 points a year later. Charron did not score as many goals in 1978-79, scoring 28 goals, with 42 assists. He would never again reach those types of numbers and spent only two more seasons in the NHL. He was still one of the Capitals’ best scorers during the 1970’s, despite just two years of topping 30 goals. Admittedly, two-year wonder may be too harsh of a term, as his two most outstanding goal-scoring years were sandwiched between two pretty good years that didn’t measure up to his best years, but were much better than any other season he had.

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Bob SiroisBob Sirois started his NHL career with the Philadelphia Flyers, but was traded to the Caps early in the 1975-76 season. During the 1977-78 season, he scored 24 goals and added 37 assists for 61 points, exceeding his previous career-high in goals of 13. In 1978-79, he scored 29 goals and recorded 25 assists for 54 points. The next season, he dropped to 15 goals, and would prove to be his last in the NHL.

John DruceJohn Druce was called up from the minor leagues during the 1989-90 season and was one of the most prominent heroes during the 1990 Stanley Cup Playoffs, after moving to the top-line to replace an injured Dino Ciccarelli. Druce followed up his playoff heroics in the 1990-91 season by scoring 22 goals and recording 36 assists for 58 points. In 1991-92, he scored 19 goals and recorded 18 assists for 37 points. The Capitals traded him to the Winnipeg Jets prior to the 1992-93 season. For the rest of his NHL career, he failed to reach the same scoring heights. His best seasons were a 14-goal season in 1993-94, and a 15-goal season in 1994-95 for the Los Angeles Kings.

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Matt PettingerMatt Pettinger was drafted by the Capitals in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft, but did not fully establish himself as a full-time NHLer until 2003-04. In 2005-06 after the lockout, he blossomed, scoring 20 goals and recording 18 assists for 38 points. The following season (2006-07), he scored 16 goals and recorded 16 assists. However, his productivity fell off drastically in 2007-08 and he was traded to the Vancouver Canucks at the trade deadline. The 2007-08 season was his last full season and he was up and down between the American Hockey League and the NHL after that.  His last NHL appearance came during the 2009-10 season, and he played in a German league for several seasons after that.

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NHL

Chris Clark – The Capitals acquired right wing Chris Clark immediately prior to the 2005-06 season. Clark had scored 10 goals in each of his three prior seasons in the NHL, all with the Calgary Flames. Clark drastically improved in his first season in Washington, scoring 20 goals and recording 19 assists for 39 points. The 2006-07 season, one in which he was named the Capitals’ team captain, was even better, as he scored 30 goals and added 24 assists for 54 points overall. Unfortunately, his 2007-08 was marred by a series of injuries, including a season-ending groin injury.  The rest of his tenure with the Caps was also marred with injuries, including a wrist injury that required surgery in 2008-09. He was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets in December 2009. As a result of his injury issues, he never again topped 10 goals after the 2006-07 season. NoVa Caps looks back at his Capitals career here.

By Diane Doyle

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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3 Responses to A Deuce, Then A Dud: Washington Capitals Two-Year Wonders

  1. Mike Livingston says:

    Great stuff. Clark’s two best seasons were when he was playing with Ovechkin and tapping in rebounds as teams tried to figure out how to stop Ovi (they still haven’t figure it out completely yet.)

    The Caps were smart with Clark, in that after he had his great seasons and started getting hurt more regularly, they unloaded him and Jurcina on Columbus for Jason Chimera, who was a very solid player for most of the next half-dozen seasons.

    • Diane Doyle says:

      Caps traded Clark at the right time. It was sad he kept getting so many injuries which robbed him of his skills. (I recall one game nearly a year sooner where I wondered if his days on the team were numbered — at the time when they had Knuble, Semin, and Fehr playing right wing and he was out of the lineup due to a season ending injury)

  2. Michael L. Valcourt Sr. says:

    Great commentary enjoyed reading!

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