Capitals 'C' is for Clark, their new on-ice leader

Updated: September 14, 2006, 7:59 AM ET
Associated Press

ASHBURN, Va. -- If the NHL allowed goaltenders to be captains, Washington Capitals veteran Olaf Kolzig would have been wearing the "C" on his jersey for several years already.

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As it is, the Capitals announced that Chris Clark will be the team's on-ice leader this season -- a role he fully expects to share with the man in the crease.

Clark, entering his sixth NHL season and second with Washington, succeeds Jeff Halpern, who left for Dallas as a free agent during the offseason.

Both general manager George McPhee and coach Glen Hanlon described Clark as "quiet," making him a good counterpart for the vocal Kolzig.

"Olie's that type of person, very charismatic, very vocal," Clark said. "Anything that needed to be addressed, it was a tandem between him and Jeff, so I see that as a partnership again this year."

Clark set career highs with 20 goals and 39 points last season.

"We're very impressed with the professionalism and leadership he brings to the rink every night," McPhee said.

The captain of the future may be Alex Ovechkin, the budding superstar who was named rookie of the year last season. But he turns 21 on Sunday and is still mastering English.

Hanlon said he considered Ovechkin, but also made it clear that Clark won't be a caretaker captain while the team waits for Ovechkin to mature.

"He's not a stopgap captain," Hanlon said. "We have a plan, and our plan here, like the other 29 teams, is to win the Stanley Cup. And Chris Clark is going to be one that's going to hold the Stanley Cup over his head."

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press