Capitals Alumni Profile: Alan Haworth

Alan-Haworth-SportsnetPhoto: Unknown

The 1980’s was the decade in which the Washington Capitals began to rise to prominence as a playoff contender, though they were never able to capture Lord Stanley’s Cup. In this latest Capitals Alumni Profile, NoVa Caps takes a look at the Capitals career of Alan Haworth, a prominent figure on many of the 80’s teams. (You can check out all of our alumni profiles on our “History” page.)

Early Life and Career

Alan Joseph Gordon Haworth was born on September 1, 1960, in Drummondville, Quebec, Canada.  He was the son of Gordon Haworth, played two games with the New York Rangers during the 1952-53 season, and had a brother Carey and a sister Sharon.

Haworth played AAA Midget hockey with his hometown Drummondville Olympic during the 1975-76 season. The following season, he began playing with the Chicoutimi Saguenéens of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL), during which he scored 11 goals and recorded 18 assists, and scored one goal and added 1 assist in eight playoff games. Haworth remained with Chicoutimi in 1977-78 and improved to 17 goals and 33 assists for 50 points overall. In 1978-79, he played with the Sherbrooke Castors, also of the QMJHL, this time scoring 50 goals, and recording 70 assists for 120 points. In addition to the regular season, he contributed six goals and 10 assists in 12 playoff games. Despite having been drafted by the Buffalo Sabres in the 1979 NHL Entry Draft, he remained with the Castors for the 1979-80 season. This time, he scored 28 goals and recorded 36 assists in just 45 games.  Haworth played well in the playoffs with 11 goals and 16 assists in 15 playoff games.

In 1979, he was drafted by the Buffalo Sabres in the fifth-round of the NHL Entry Draft with the 95th overall pick.

Professional Career Prior to the Capitals

Haworth waited a year after being drafted to start his professional career, as he returned to his junior team. He began his professional career during the 1980-81 season, starting off with the Rochester Americans, the farm team of the Sabres, and scored 14 goals and 18 assists in just 21 games, which prompted the Sabres to call him up to the NHL. He played in 49 games for the Sabres, scoring 16 goals with 20 assists for 36 points overall. In addition, he played in seven playoff games for the Sabres, scoring four goals and recording eight assists. These numbers came during a season in which the Sabres had seven players top 20 goals, with Haworth ranking ninth on the team in goals. He was returned to Rochester to start the 1981-82 season, this time only playing 14 games before being called up again. For 1981-82, Haworth scored 21 goals with 18 assists for 39 points in 57 games played, and recorded one assist in three games in the playoffs.

On June 9, the day of the 1982 NHL Entry Draft, the Sabres traded Haworth and a third-round pick to the Washington Capitals in exchange for a second-round pick and a fourth-round pick.

 Washington Capitals Career

At the time the Caps acquired Haworth, they had never qualified for the playoffs during their first eight years of existence. The 1981-82 season saw several different players playing in their first season in the District. During his first season with the Caps, Haworth scored 23 goals and recorded 27 assists as the team made the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. In 1983-84, he scored 24 goals with 31 assists for 55 points. This time, the Capitals advanced to the second round of the playoffs, after sweeping the Philadelphia Flyers in the first round, and beat the New York Islanders in the first game of the second round before losing the next four games. Haworth scored three goals and had two assists in the playoffs. In 1984-85, he scored 23 goals with 26 assists.

Haworth’s best season with Washington came in 1985-86, when he scored 34 goals and recorded 39 assists, the only year in which he topped 30 goals, setting a new a career-high in assists. The season saw Haworth converted from a wing to a center on a third-line that also consisted of Craig Laughlin at right wing and Greg Adams at left wing, a line that was known as the Plumbers’ Line, as they had a knack for “fixing” things that did not work for the Caps. The so-called plumbers were all actually productive on the scoring front, with Laughlin scoring 30 goals and Adams scoring 18 goals. Haworth himself set a team record in November of 1985 by scoring goals in nine consecutive games, a record later broken by defenseman Mike Green. He missed some games in March that season due to a fractured wrist, but was back in time for the playoffs. In that postseason, the Capitals advanced to the second round of the playoffs and it proved to be Haworth’s most productive postseason, as he scored four goals and had six assists in nine games.

Haworth ultimately played five full seasons with the Capitals, all in which they qualified for the playoffs each time. In each season, he consistently scored 20 or more goals and had 40 or more points. While a relatively small player at 5’10”, he was a player considered to have great speed and a hard slapshot but was also reliable defensively. He was underrated as a playmaker, given that he was a winger on either the second or third-line.  During his last season with the Capitals (1986-87), he scored 25 goals with 16 assists, which was a dropoff from the prior year. A knee injury in December bothered him enough that he wore a brace for the next few months in a season in which he played only 50 games.

The Capitals traded Haworth along with Gaetan Duchesne and a first round pick on June 13, 1987 to the Quebec Nordiques in exchange for center Dale Hunter and goaltender Clint Malarchuk. The trade an impactful trade for Washington, as they acquired a future Captain who would go on to play many seasons in the District. However, the Nordiques drafted future hockey great Joe Sakic with the first-round pick.

Then-Capitals General Manager David Poile commented after the trade, “I didn’t want to trade either player. Alan and Gaetan have played well for us for five years. But we’re giving up something to get something. The club is set up better with the trade than before.  We have improved at center with {Bengt} Gustafsson and Hunter. Alan had become expendable. Alan had improved the last couple years and he wanted to get more ice time. With Bob Gould, Mike Ridley, Gus, and Hunter as centers, that would be tough. Gaetan was as honest as the day is long as far as his work ethic, and I was reluctant to give that up.”

In his five years with the Caps, Haworth played in 346 games, scored 129 goals, recorded 139 assists for 268 points overall. In 32 playoff games, he scored eight goals, and recorded 11 assists for 19 points.

Post-Capitals Career

In 1987-88, Haworth scored 23 goals and recorded 34 assists for 57 points overall, however the Nordiques did not make the Stanley Cup Playoffs that year, after which his contract came to an end. While he spoke fluent French, his wife was from the Washington D.C. area, so the adjustment to Quebec was difficult. During the season, Haworth got into a fight with Dale Hunter, the player for whom he was traded.

Haworth was unable to come to terms on a contract with any NHL team for the following season so he went overseas to play for SC Bern in the Swiss League and played there for four seasons before retiring.

His final NHL totals read as: 524 games played, 189 goals scored, 211 assists, and 400 points overall.  After retiring from hockey, he became an amateur scout for the Washington Capitals, a position he has held since 2015-16.

By Diane Doyle

Further Reading
Washington Capitals Legends: Alan Haworth
NoVa Caps: Bryan Murray and Washington Capitals 1982-1983 Season
NY Times: 4/22/1986:Haworth Continues to Excel at Center
AP News on Haworth Injury
Wash Post: 3/17/1987 Haworths Injury Isn’t as Severe as Expected
Wash Post: Capitals Trade Haworth to Nordiques

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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