The Washington Capitals announced today that former right winger Mike Gartner’s number 11 will finally be strung from the rafters of the Verizon Center.
From the Washington Capitals PR department:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – September 2, 2008
Capitals to Retire Mike Gartner’s No. 11 on Dec. 28
Hockey Hall of Famer will be the fourth player in Caps history to have his number retired
ARLINGTON, Va. – The Washington Capitals will retire Mike Gartner’s No. 11 jersey at a pregame ceremony before the team’s game against Toronto on Sunday, Dec. 28. Gartner, a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame who ranks second in Capitals history in goals (397), assists (392) and points (789), will become the fourth player in Capitals history to have his number retired.
“Capitals fans have fond memories of Mike Gartner flying down the right wing and scoring goals at the Capital Centre,” said Capitals chairman and majority owner Ted Leonsis. “This is a fitting tribute to one of the elite offensive players in the history of the game who was a crucial member of the first Capitals playoff teams.”
“It is a tremendous honor to be recognized by the Washington Capitals and to join the distinguished company of my fellow teammates Ivan Labre, Rod Langway and Dale Hunter,” Gartner said. “I look forward to the upcoming evening in December and sharing those fond memories with my family and those fans in attendance.”
Gartner spent the first 10 seasons of his 19-year NHL career with the Capitals after Washington selected him in the first round, fourth overall, in the 1979 NHL Draft. He led the team in goals five times and in points four times, scoring at least 35 goals in each of his first nine years in Washington (he had 26 goals when he was traded 56 games into 1988-89, his 10th season). He left the team as its all-time leader in games played, goals, assists, points, power-play goals and game-winning goals.
The Ottawa native is one of only three players in Capitals history with a 100-point season (joining Dennis Maruk and Alex Ovechkin), having recorded 102 points in 1984-85. He holds the Capitals record for most consecutive games with a point (17, twice) and consecutive games with a goal (9) and shares the club record for most shorthanded goals in a season (6).
Gartner was a member of the first six Capitals playoff teams, leading four of those teams in playoff scoring. He recorded 43 points (16 goals, 27 assists) in 47 playoff games for the club and at the time of his trade was Washington’s all-time leading playoff scorer.
Gartner played 1,432 career games with five teams in his career, recording 708 goals (sixth in NHL history) and 627 assists for 1,335 points. Inducted in the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2001, Gartner holds the NHL record for the most 30-goal seasons (17) and shares the record for most consecutive 30-goal seasons (15). He played in seven NHL All-Star Games and three times won the NHL’s fastest skater competition at the NHL All-Star Game.
Gartner was an active member of the community during his time in Washington, D.C., and a particularly generous contributor to the Children’s National Medical Center.
Gartner’s No. 11 will join Rod Langway’s No. 5, Yvon Labre’s No. 7 and Dale Hunter’s No. 32 in the rafters at Verizon Center. Hunter was the most recent Capital to have him number retired, March 11, 2000.
Tickets for the Dec. 28 game will go on sale this month (details to come). All fans in attendance that night will receive a commemorative Mike Gartner giveaway.
Growing up as a Caps fan, I was mostly interested in the defensive side of hockey. Roda Langway and Scott Stevens were and are my favorite hockey players to ever play the game. That being said, Mike Gartner was the offensive heart of the team. He is one of the premier offensive threats to ever skate in an NHL rink, and was easily my favorite offensive player ever — well, at least until 2005.
Gartner had a long NHL career, and it pained me to see him play all but the first 10 years in a different set of sweaters, but, much like Scott Stevens, I always cheered for him to do well, and I always cheered for his teams to do well when not playing the Red, White and Blue of the Caps. All I can really say about this move, is it is long overdue.
I’ll sign off with a highlight video of number 11.