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.
Played for Caps: 2005 - 2010
Stats with Caps: 240 GP, 60 G, 63 A, 123 Pts, Postseason: 8 GP, 1 G, 0 A, 1 Pt
Clark came to D.C. in a trade with Calgary in 2005. With the old captain Jeff Halpern on his way out of Washington and Alex Ovechkin still too young and green to take the reins, the Caps handed the C to the gritty Clark in 2006.
Clark was a member of the “I can’t believe this is working” top line with Ovechkin and Dainius Zubrus. Never a dynamic goal scorer, Clark still managed career highs in goals (30), assists (24) and points (54) in 2006.
A groin injury in 2007 shortened his season to only 18 games and brought his offensive numbers back down to earth. Injuries ensured he never came close to 70 games or 54 points again for the rest of his career.
With the team in need of a natural left wing, Clark was traded along with defenseman Milan Jurcina to Columbus in exchange for Jason Chimera in December 2009. He played through the 2010-11 season with the Blue Jackets, but without Ovechkin by his side his offensive output remained low. Clark managed only eight goals and 12 assists in Ohio.
Clark signed with Boston in the summer but was released in training camp. On Nov. 3, 2011, Clark was given a tryout agreement by AHL Providence, but was released on Nov. 21 after failing to tally a point in six games. Looking strictly for offensive output from Clark was unfortunate, however, as it ignored the grit and leadership that were the real assets he provided while with the Caps.
At the age of 35 and without a contract, Clark retired from hockey. As he had enjoyed his time in Columbus and wished to remain involved in hockey, he sought a job with the Blue Jackets and was hired as a scout. From that position he managed to work his way up to development director in 2012, a position he still currently holds with the team.
In addition to being Brooks Laich’s doppelganger, Clark’s legacy in Washington was being the third longest tenured captain in the team’s history.
While to many fans his offensive numbers were inflated by his time on the front line, it is interesting to think what may have happened had he not suffered so many injuries. Were his numbers inflated or was he just not around long enough to show he could be a consistent 20-goal scorer?