Best Hockey History to Learn

The Expansion Washington Capitals
If you really want to feel good about where the local hockey team is this year, go read about the way things were when it started. The 1974–1975 Washington Capitals were the worst professional sports team of their day and remain the shit standard for NHL squads—an ESPN poll of the worst sports teams of all time ranked the expansion Caps beneath the 1961 New York Mets. That’s amazing. And deserved. In their first season, the Caps went 8–67–5. That means they averaged just over one win a month. Among the NHL records that the team set that still stand: fewest points (21), fewest wins (8), most goals against (446), worst goal differential (216), and longest losing streak (17 games). Here we have, as Nigel Tufnel would say, a little too much perspective on how little that squad has in common with the late model Capitals: To counter the expansion Caps’ 17-game losing streak, the 2009–2010 squad treated fans to a club-record 14-game winning streak. “It’s a little different now,” laughs Yvon Labre, the only ’70s Capital to have his jersey retired. “The goal of this year’s team, like every team every season is: Win the Stanley Cup. But us? No. That wasn’t part of our expectations.”