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Laughlin on the 1984 Caps win streak

If the Caps set a franchise record for consecutive wins on Tuesday night, Craig Laughlin will have a unique vantage point. He'll be sitting there in Boston, talking to many of us tuning into the Comcast SportsNet broadcast at home, but he'll also be watching as one of his own claims to history gets erased.

Laughlin, of course, was part of the only other Caps team to win 10 straight, the 1983-'84 group that set off much talk of a Caps bandwagon. And he said he has no mixed feelings as this year's group gets ready to challenge the record.

"I think Boudreau has a great understanding not only the history of the game, but the history of the Washington Capitals, and I think he uses a lot of that for motivation for his team," Laughlin told me from Boston Tuesday morning. "Even though he's gonna tell me and you 'Oh, I don't know, I don't remember,' he knows exactly how many games they won in a row during this streak. He's using past successes as a type of motivational tool to put his team in the record books. But most importantly it helps him keep the petal to the medal pedal to the metal and keep these athletes focused on little things, not necessarily the winning streak but the history, being able to outdo a team in the '80s that had some good players.

"I think to me, that's a feather in our cap. I'm actually glad that he understands the history and some nights he probably uses it as motivation. So I hope they win. Seventeen is the all-time high, and you look at their schedule, they have a legitimate chance. And I would be tickled to death if they did that."

Laughlin still talks to many of his teammates from that squad--Rod Langway, Alan Haworth, Greg Adams and others--and the memories always revolve around the good times and the wins. But he said what he remembers about that team was more the confidence and overall success than 10 specific games in late January and February. In fact, he said he didn't even remember the particulars until long-time play-by-play man Ron Weber recently jarred his memory by producing an old game sheet. (See a lot of the stats here.)

"I didn't remember who scored [for Winnipeg in the streak-ending] game, I didn't remember any of that," Laughlin said. "It was just the fact that we had a heck of a team and we went about each game very similar in style to the way this team approaches each game. They have the uncanny ability to have fun while working. We were always workmanlike, but we always had fun as part of the game, and I see a lot of that in this team."

Which is why one of Laughlin's strongest memories from that season came not on the ice but in the dressing room. He also mentioned this to Mike Vogel, but the '83-'84 team would play "Break on Through" by The Doors before every game. Rod Langway would tell the team "it's getting close, it's time," and with five minutes to go, Davey Christian would press play. Coaches weren't allowed into the room during the song, so their pre-game talk had to end by a certain point. A few goofy players would sing along, and once the song ended, everyone went straight to the ice for warm-ups.

"To be honest, I remember that song and the interactions in the locker room more than I ended up remembering the streak," Laughlin told me. "I remember David Poile coming into the locker room, this was maybe after we lost the streak, playing down the length of the season. He brought in a box of those tapes, a tape for everybody so we could actually listen to it in our car. He had them made and every player got one. I would swear it's still down in my basement in an old box of memorabilia. I still have the tape of The Doors. Every time I hear that song, I think of those days. It was a big part of my life coming to Washington and being a part of the Caps in the '80s."

Practices, too, look fun in his memory. Murray used to yell at Laughlin, Haworth and Adams about "two passes and a shot," so in practice they would make 10 passes before putting pucks on net.

"So close and tight, on and off the ice," Laughlin said. "We went out together, we hung out together, we laughed every day at practice, we laughed on and off the ice."

And what of this team? He said Bruce Boudreau has a similar touch to Bryan Murray, essentially a players coach but having the acute sense of when to skate the team hard for an hour and when to cancel a practice. The way the teams played was obviously immensely different, but Laughlin said the confidence and the grins and the attitude are the same.

"We used to always joke around that we're The Fun Bunch," Laughlin said. "The Redskins had The Fun Bunch, and we were The Fun Bunch of hockey. And just like this team does, we would go into games knowing that you're going to win most nights. We had a real good feeling, and it started right in the locker room, and this team does too. I see the same type of smiles, I see the same distribution in the locker room as far as goals and assists, and everyone gets a piece of the credit. I just notice that the demeanor of the team has tremendous similarities to what I went through."

By Dan Steinberg  |  February 2, 2010; 3:17 PM ET
Categories:  Caps , Media  
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Next: Caps hit 11 straight


Locker rules! :-) I <3 Locker.

And now I have "Break on Through" by the Doors stuck in my head...

Posted by: irockthered | February 2, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse

If we do break the record, I'd like to see Caps Media use that song when they do the video. Mix history with today. It'd be really cool. :-)

Posted by: irockthered | February 2, 2010 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Let's not miss the little data point that Ron Weber is still out-nuggeting everyone even though the team classlessly poop-canned him over 10 years ago.

Bring back Weber!!!!!!!!

Posted by: CF11555 | February 2, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Two points. It was Pollin and O'Malley that got rid of Ron Weber, not Ted. And Locker is a gem of the local sports media.

Posted by: poguesmahone | February 2, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Petal to the medal or pedal to the metal?

Posted by: villaal | February 2, 2010 4:50 PM | Report abuse

"but, this one goes to eleven."

Posted by: lylewimbledon | February 2, 2010 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Bengt Gustafsson was (still is) king!

Posted by: GAU8A | February 2, 2010 5:29 PM | Report abuse

hey locker"you know the day destroys the night
the night divides the day
you try to run you try to hide
break on through to the other side"!!!
now the caps have to break on through to the eleven side.go get'em caps.GO CAPS!!!

Posted by: gratefuldid | February 2, 2010 7:03 PM | Report abuse

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