Three Capitals stand above all the rest in popularity – with stadium scorecard vendors.
The common thread among Rick Bragnalo, Doug Patey, and Mark Lofthouse, is that their threads were constantly changing. After recall from the minors, and another player using their former number, they’d have to get a new one.
Rick, Doug, and Mark each wore four different numbers during their time with the Caps in the 1970’s. Not at the same time, despite the jersey sleeve evidence at right.
For Patey (#10, 23, 12 and 16), his moment in the sun came in the ’76-’77 season, when Doug played 37 games with Washington, and scored 3 of his 4 NHL goals.
Bragnalo (#18, 27, 12 and 8) shined brightest during that same ’76-’77 campaign, playing all 80 games and scoring 11 goals, two of them shorthanded.
Lofthouse (#11, 27, 20 and 8) had 13 goals in ’77-’78, following that up with 15 goals in ’78-’79.
The Google Machine also reveals a FIFTH number worn by Lofthouse, a supposedly game-worn number 28 sweater (at left). But it’s not listed by the official Capitals website, or hockey-reference.com. So that's mysterious.
No Cap beats Nelson Burton, though, for speediest sweater switches. Although playing just eight NHL games over two seasons, Nelson wore three numbers: 12, 27 and 8.
His most cherished number is 1 – the lone goal of his big-league career, scored against Tony Esposito, no less, in a 2-2 tie with Chicago in 1977.
These four players spent the bulk of their careers in the minors, working for a shot at The Show. Patey certainly spoke for all of them, quoted by greatesthockeylegends.com:
"I've been up and down. Up is better.”