Life after the Caps: Peter Bondra

Life after the Caps: Peter Bondra
August 13, 2014, 4:00 pm
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Have you ever caught yourself thinking of an old Caps' favorite and wondered, what ever happened to that guy?

Hockey, like all professional sports, is a tough business. Team legends can spend many years in one city but find themselves looking for a new team near the end of their careers. Other players are brought in to bolster the squad but are let go through free agency or trades just as they began to establish themselves in Washington.

The hockey world, however, does not end when players leave D.C. Here’s a look at some former Caps and how they fared after their time in Washington.

Peter Bondra

Played for Caps: 1990 - 2004

Stats with Caps: 961 GP, 472 G, 353 A, 825 Pts, Postseason: 73 GP, 30 G, 26 A, 56 Pts

Bondra is widely regarded as one of the best players in franchise history and for good reason. He still holds franchise records for goals (472), points (825), even strength goals (303), short-handed goals (32), game-winning goals (73) and hat tricks (19).

Twice he scored over 50 goals in a season, twice he led the league in scoring and he also made the All-Star team in five seasons, all when he was with the Caps. It would not at all be surprising to one day see the number 12 hanging from the rafters at Verizon Center as a retired number.

Though he was undoubtedly a team legend and a fan favorite, Bondra ultimately would not finish his NHL career in Washington.

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Bondra was traded in 2004, another star victim of the Caps' salary dump in 2004 that eventually helped the team rebuild with the "young guns" of today. In exchange, the team received Brooks Laich and a second-round pick from Ottawa.

The Senators were considered a Stanley Cup contender, but Bondra took the news hard. He had spent his entire 14-year career in Washington and it suddenly had come to an abrupt end.

Bondra struggled to adjust to his new surroundings, scoring only five goals in the remaining 23 games of the regular season. Though Ottawa general manager John Muckler said he intended to exercise Bondra's option when he traded for the star winger, he changed his mind after Bondra was held scoreless in seven playoff games in Ottawa's first round loss to Toronto.

A lockout that would eventually cause the entire 2004-05 season to be cancelled kept Bondra from finding a new NHL home until the summer of 2005. Bondra played six games HK SKP Poprad-Slovakia during the lockout before returning to North America.

After talks of a possible return with the Caps, Bondra signed a one-year deal with Atlanta for a surprisingly high $3.4 million. He did rebound somewhat with 21 goals and 18 assists, but behind a young Marian Hossa and Ilya Kovalchuk, Bondra's role on the team was limited.

Only two goals short of the 500 mark Bondra returned in December of 2006, signing with Chicago. On Dec. 22, Bondra became the 37th player in NHL history to score 500 goals with a goal against Toronto. He would ultimately score five goals that season, the final of his NHL career.

In addition to his NHL accomplishments, Bondra also helped lead Slovakia to the IIHF World Championship in 2002.

Since his retirement, Bondra has shown that his heart never left D.C., participating in numerous alumni events and becoming a great ambassador for the team and the game.

[MORE: Where are they now? Eric Belanger]