Clark Gets the Nod To Replace Halpern As Capitals' Captain

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Chris Clark , a player described as quiet off the ice and cantankerous on it, was named captain of the Washington Capitals yesterday, one day before players were due to report for the start of training camp.

Clark, 30, succeeds Jeff Halpern , who wore the "C" last season but signed with the Dallas Stars as a free agent in July.

"It's definitely an honor," Clark said during a news conference at Ashburn Ice House. "I just want to be myself and be a leader in the locker room. You don't have to be a rah-rah guy. On the ice, I'm going to show my leadership more that way."

Although several names -- including Alex Ovechkin -- were mentioned as possible successors to Halpern during the offseason, the selection of Clark shouldn't come as much of a surprise. Acquired from the Calgary Flames in August 2005, the feisty right winger quickly won the respect of his teammates and coaching staff.

"He's a leader in the mold of Dale Hunter ," General Manger George McPhee said. "He's a quiet man off the ice and cantankerous on it. Leadership is not a sometimes thing, it's an all-the-time-thing, and Chris has the all-the-time leadership that all teams covet."

Coach Glen Hanlon said that while Ovechkin was among the players considered for the captaincy, Clark is not holding the post until Ovechkin is ready.

"Chris Clark is not a stopgap captain," Hanlon said. "We're not giving him the captaincy for a year until Alexander is older."

Last season, Clark posted career highs in goals (20) and points (39) and led the team in plus-minus rating (plus-9) and penalty minutes (110).

"Chris is a good guy in the locker room, he's our leader," Ovechkin said. "I agree" with the decision.

-- Tarik El-Bashir

© 2006 The Washington Post Company