Life after the Caps: Jeff Halpern

Life after the Caps: Jeff Halpern
August 22, 2014, 4:00 pm
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(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Have you ever caught yourself thinking of an old Caps' favorite and wondered, what ever happened to that guy?

Hockey, like all professional sports, is a tough business. Team legends can spend many years in one city but find themselves looking for a new team near the end of their careers. Other players are brought in to bolster the squad but are let go through free agency or trades just as they began to establish themselves in Washington.

The hockey world, however, does not end when players leave D.C. Here’s a look at some former Caps and how they fared after their time in Washington.

Jeff Halpern

Played for Caps: 1999 – 2006 and 2011 - 2012

Stats with Caps: 507 GP, 91 G, 139 A, 230 Pts, Postseason: 19 GP, 4 G, 4 A, 8 Pts

Halpern became he first player from the Washington, D.C. area to play for the Caps when he signed in 1999 as an undrafted free agent.  He became the 12th captain in team history as the Caps returned from the season-long lockout in the fall of 2005.

The Potomac, Md. Native left Washington, however, in the summer of 2006 as a free agent. With the team focused more on its young talent, there simply was no room to sign the 31-year-old veteran.

His first stop of many was Dallas where he signed a four-year deal. After a 44-point season with the Caps, however, Halpern’s numbers declined significantly in his first season with the Stars and tallied only 25 points.

Dallas sent Halpern to Tampa Bay in a blockbuster deal along with Mike Smith, Jussi Jokinen and a fourth-round draft pick in exchange for Brad Richards and Johan Holmqvist. From there, Halpern re-established himself as a key contributor. He scored in his debut with Tampa and recorded 18 points in the final 19 games of the season to finish with 42 points on the year.

Halpern unfortunately would not come close to those numbers again. He managed only 16 points the next season and in the final year of his contract, with only 17 points in 55 games, Tampa dealt Halpern to Los Angeles.

Much of Halpern’s struggles in Tampa were related to an injury suffered during the 2008 World Championships. Halpern was named the captain of the United States national team, but suffered a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament in May.

Halpern played out his contract in Los Angeles and signed a one-year deal with Montreal. His numbers rebounded somewhat as he scored 26 points and in 2011, Halpern made his triumphant return to D.C. with a one-year deal with the Caps.

Ok, triumphant might be a bit strong. At 35-years-old, the Caps were really looking a faceoff specialist, leadership and a capable forechecker. His playing time was limited and his numbers dipped as a result. He signed another one-year deal, this time with New York, but was placed on waivers after managing only one assist in 30 games. He was claimed by another former team, Montreal, and played the remaining 16 regular season games as well as three playoff games.

With limited interest but unwilling to call it a career, Halpern went to Finland in September 2013 to play with the Finnish Elite Team HC TPS. After scoring four goals in eight games, Halpern returned to the U.S. for a deal with Phoenix.

This summer, Halpern yet again finds himself without a team, but is still unwilling to hang up the skates even after a 15-year career in which he played for seven different NHL teams. He has also represented the U.S. in six different tournaments including a bronze medal effort in the 2004 World Championships. 

In an interview earlier this month with CSN’s Ben Raby, “I still love the game and I still enjoy playing.”

Halpern currently stands only 24 games shy of reaching the 1,000 game mark. Here’s hoping he gets one more tour of duty so he can reach that lofty milestone.

[RELATED: Capitals' Top 25 impact players for 2014-15: No. 1: Alex Ovechkin]