Halpern, Erat and Ribeiro Return to DC

Posted March 8, 2014

Caps Outsider file photo

When the Phoenix Coyotes came into town tonight to face off against the Capitals, they brought with them three former Capitals.  One was loved in D.C., he goes by Jeff Halpern.  One didn’t stay for too long and left Caps fans with mixed feelings.  That’s Mike Ribeiro.  And one left a bad taste in the Capitals fan base’s mouth.  He’s Martin Erat.

But these guys are still ultimately former teammates of a lot of the current Capitals.  And when you get former teammates together, some conversation is bound to happen.

“I had one exchange with Ribs,” Brooks Laich said.  “I just gave him a light bump in the first period, and he goes ‘Ooooh good one Brooksie’ and I said ‘Ribs, one more of those and you’ll be out for the night.’  He’s a buck-40.”

Halpern was a fan favorite in his time as a Capital.  The gritty forward grew up in Potomac, Md. was undrafted when he was plucked up by the Capitals for the 1999-2000 season.  He went on to play in 507 games for the Capitals, and has bounced all around the league, playing for the Dallas Stars, Tampa Bay Lightning, Los Angeles Kings, the Montreal Canadians, New York Rangers and, most recently, the Coyotes.  This season, he’s playing his typical bottom six role, tallying three goals and six assists.

The other former Capital returning to DC is Ribeiro.  Ribeiro was featured as a Capital for a full, never mind, half season in the lockout campaign just last year.  He was one of the Caps top scorers, and has done more of the same in Phoenix.  And even though he wasn’t rocking the red for long, he still had some memorable plays for the Caps, most notably this playoff goal in overtime.  As a Coyote  He’s recorded 14 goals and 29 assists, giving him the team lead in points scored.  He wanted to stay in Washington, but the Capitals couldn’t afford him, so he had to test the free agency waters.

The most recent former Capital is Erat.  He of course was acquired at last years trade deadline, where he was brought in from the Nashville Predators with center Michael Latta for Capitals prospect Filip Forsberg.  It was already an awkward situation when he stepped on the ice because of all of the controversy involving the Caps trading away one of their top prospects.  It was quickly apparent that the trade was a complete failure.  Erat was injured in the Capitals playoff series last year, and this year recorded one goal – an empty netter.  He then requested a trade, and from there on out everyone was waiting to see where he’d end up.

None of the former Caps recorded a point tonight.  Ribeiro led the three in ice time with 18:16, but finished the game with a minus one.  None of them even recorded a single shot on goal.  But both Erat and Halpern didn’t show their former teammates any love, as both were tied for the second most hits on the team with four apiece.  That’s probably due to the fact that the Coyotes are still very much in the race for the playoffs.

“They’re in a tight spot too,” Laich added.  “They’re trying to win a hockey game.  They’re in a playoff race out there as well, and for us it was the same thing.”

So even if they are former teammates, it all comes down to the team they’re on.