- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 14, 2006

Right wing Chris Clark, who posted the best offensive numbers of his career last season as a member of the first line, yesterday was named the 13th captain of the Washington Capitals.

Clark replaces Montgomery County native Jeff Halpern, who left as a free agent for a four-year contract with the Dallas Stars in the offseason.

“Chris is the whole package. It’s not just one thing,” coach Glen Hanlon said. “When you deal with him every day you have a great appreciation of how level headed he is, how mature he is, how hard he competes.”

Said general manager George McPhee: “He is a leader in the mold of one of our all-time favorites, [former captain] Dale Hunter. He is a quiet man off the ice, a cantankerous, ultra-competitive player on the ice.”

The 30-year-old Clark is not always quiet off the ice. Say anything derogatory about his beloved Boston Red Sox or New England Patriots or anything remotely nice about the New York Yankees and the South Windsor, Conn., native politely will inform you of your high level of stupidity.

A graduate of Clarkson College of Technology just south of Montreal in Upstate New York, Clark was drafted in the third round by Calgary and played there for part or all of five seasons, including the Stanley Cup Finals in 2004. He was acquired by the Caps in August 2005 for two draft picks when Washington was looking for a leader to play on the third or fourth lines.

Instead, Clark displayed good enough hands to get a look on the right side of center Dainius Zubrus and left wing Alex Ovechkin. He played well enough, but others were moved in and out for trial periods until finally the job was his for the second half of the season. He ended up with career highs — 20 goals, 19 assists and 39 points — while still posting 110 penalty minutes and running interference for his linemates.

Both Hanlon and McPhee said Clark was the only player considered for captain, but there had been speculation Ovechkin might be moved into that spot despite only one year of NHL experience. But the left wing, who turns 21 on Sunday, displayed maturity by taking himself out of consideration, saying his command of English was not good enough.

Goalie Olie Kolzig, a strong vocal force in the dressing room, has been the unofficial captain since Hunter retired in 1999. NHL rules prohibit goalies from being captains.

“Yeah, I was surprised when they asked me to be captain,” Clark said. “I think it’s because they can’t give the ‘C’ to our goalie. That would have been the immediate and easy choice. He’s been here forever, and he is the Capital. When you think of this team, you think of Olie Kolzig. I’m grateful and honored, but I’m also surprised.”

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