Life after the Caps: Steve Konowalchuk

Life after the Caps: Steve Konowalchuk
August 25, 2014, 4:00 pm
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(Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports)

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.

Steve Konowalchuk

Played for Caps: 1992 – 2003

Stats with Caps: 693 GP, 146 G, 196 A, 342 Pts, Postseason: 39 GP, 5 G, 12 A, 17 Pts

Konowalchuk was drafted by the Caps in 1991 and made his NHL debut in 1992. Though he played in only one game in his first season, he was with the team for another 11 years. He and Brendan Witt took over as co-captains when Adam Oates was stripped of the job, and Konowalchuk became the sole captain for the 2002-03 season.

At the start of the 2003 season, the Caps began the process of tearing the team down and Konowalchuk was one of the first players moved. With Paul Kariya out indefinitely for Colorado, the Avalanche found themselves in need of a winger and made a deal for the Caps’ captain.

Konowalchuk played 82 games that season and re-signed with Colorado for three years in the summer of 2004. A broken wrist sidelined him for much of the following season. Then, as he prepared for the start of the 2005 season, his career was unexpectedly cut short.

After medical tests revealed a genetic heart condition, Konowalchuk decided to retire in Sept. 2006. Despite being only 33-years-old, Knowalchuk learned he suffered from Long QT Syndrome which can lead to irregular heart rhythms and various complications.  He walked away after 14 NHL seasons.

Konowalchuk remained with the Avalanche working in the player development department in 2007-08 then as an assistant to Joe Sacco for two seasons from 2009-11. In the summer of 2011, he was named the head coach of the Seattle Thunderbirds of the Western Hockey League. In his three seasons as coach, he has led the team to the playoffs twice and was signed to a three-year extension in June.

Konowalchuk was a fan favorite during his time in Washington thanks to his gritty, hard-nosed style of play. He endeared himself to the players and fans thanks to his high-effort on the ice. Its that type of effort that no doubt has made him successful as a coach.

[RELATED: Caps' Burakovsky, Kuznetsov part of NHLPA Rookie Showcase]