In the 1970s, there was interest in expanding the then 16-team NHL by two more teams. NBA’s Baltimore Bullets owner Abe Pollin was interested in an NHL franchise for the Washington area. There was plenty of competition for Pollin as he worked to secure a D.C.-area hockey team, but ultimately Washington and Kansas City were awarded the 17th and 18th NHL franchises.
Their first few seasons weren’t exactly the stuff of legends, as they missed the playoffs each of their first eight years, but the Washington Capitals did reach the postseason of the 1982-83 season. The team ultimately lost this franchise-first Stanley Cup playoff series 3 to 1 against the New York Islanders, but thereafter became a nearly perennial playoff contender. Their first (and only) Stanley Cup Final appearance was in 1998 when they were swept by the Detroit Red Wings.
The Capitals’ most accomplished player is still taking the ice for his first and only NHL team. Alex Ovechkin, drafted No. 1 overall in 2004, holds the team record for all-time goals (607), all-time points (1,122) and most goals in a season (65). Dennis Maruk, who played for the Caps for five years in the early ’80s, holds the team record for most points in a season (136).
Over their 40-plus seasons in the NHL, the team’s uniforms have undergone quite a bit of change, including a huge overhaul of the jerseys and team colors from the mid-’90s to the mid-2000s.
Notable Jersey Changes
1974-75: The inaugural jerseys of the Washington Capitals are quite patriotic and embody the American flag with colors of red, white, and blue. Home jerseys, shown here, are white. Across the front appears the word “Washington” in red, with “Capitals” directly beneath in blue. The “L” is a large red hockey stick, complete with a puck at the end. Red and blue alternating stars appear near the chest close to each shoulder, and only the home jerseys feature the player’s name across the back. Five stars appear along each sleeve, also alternating in color.
1977-78: The Caps’ away jerseys are shown here in red. Last names appear more regularly on road jerseys this season.
1982-83: This is the team’s first playoff appearance, and their jerseys get an uplift for their series. Shorter nameplates are used for the playoff jerseys, and the numbers use brighter colors than their regular season jerseys.
1985-86: The five stars running down each sleeve reappear this season. .
1989-90: The CCM patch along the back right hem now features blue letters in white blocks for both road and home jerseys. During the playoffs, the NHL logo appears just to the right of this logo. Pictured is a home jersey, which shows the stars across the chest appearing in a more uniform line.
1992-93: A new patch is added this year in the same area as above. Both home and away jerseys sport a Stanley Cup 100th anniversary patch.
1995-96: Here we have a major uniform change. The team’s colors undergo a massive overhaul – instead of red, white, and blue, they switch to blue, black, and bronze. Gone is the traditional “Washington Capitals” logo on the front of each jersey – now, there is a fearsome eagle depicted across the front, talons extended as it dives for its prey. The stars on the chest and sleeves are now gone, but there are bronze stars within the eagle’s wings. The word “Capitals” appears below the eagle on both home and road jerseys.
1997-98: The word “Capitals” disappears from the home jerseys this season, appearing only on the away jerseys. Also, the Caps add a third jersey, depicted here, in black. It is worn during a few games in the regular season and during their entire playoff run through the Stanley Cup Final.
2000-01: The black alternate jersey becomes the team’s away jersey as they discontinue the blue road jerseys. The manufacturer’s patch is relocated to above the nameplate on the back of the jersey. Home jerseys sport CCM patches, while away jerseys sport Koho patches. The NHL logo remains in its prior spot, on the back right hem.
2007-08: This season, the Caps return to their original patriotic color scheme – red, white, and blue. Now, however, they wear red at home and white while away (pictured). The original logo is modernized but remains similar to its first inception, with a stick for the “L” in “Capitals,” and three stars across the chest rather than six, all in one color. There are no stars along the sleeves, either.
2010-11: The home and away jerseys remain unchanged, but the team wears another jersey for the 2011 Winter Classic (pictured). This jersey is a delightful throwback to the late ’80s and early ’90s, with the original logo, stars across the chest, and stars down each sleeve.
2015-16: The home and road jerseys remain unchanged, but the alternate jersey (pictured) is red instead of white.
2017-18: The current Capitals jerseys have more straight lines than their predecessor did (pictured, a red home jersey). An Adidas logo appears above the nameplate. A stadium series jersey appears in 2018 (also pictured). This jersey is blue and the word “Caps” appears across the front.
Let’s Go Caps!
Are you heading to Capital One Arena to see your fave NHL team take the ice? Make sure you’re properly outfitted in some patriotic red, white, and blue Capitals gear from Fanatics.