Halpern Comes HomePosted on January 14, 2013 by Mike Vogel
On the first day of the NHL’s unrestricted free agency period, the Capitals and Jeff Halpern are out to prove Thomas Wolfe wrong. The Caps and Halpern agreed to terms on a one-year deal for the veteran center – a native of Potomac, MD – to return to Washington and the team that gave him his start in the league in 1999-00. The 35-year-old pivot spent the 2010-11 season – his 11th in the NHL – with the Montreal Canadiens. With the Habs last season, Halpern totaled 11 goals and15 assists for 26 points. He also accumulated 29 minutes in penalties and was a plus-6, his best defensive rating since he posted an identical mark with Washington in 2002-03. With Montreal, Halpern skated an average of 12:43 a night. He averaged 2:20 per contest in shorthanded ice time, second among Canadiens’ forwards and 37th among all forwards in the league. Halpern spent the first six seasons of his NHL career with the Capitals, signing as a free agent with his hometown team at the conclusion of his collegiate career at Princeton on March 29, 1999. He began his pro career with Portland of the AHL at the tail end of the 1998-99 season, getting into six games with the Pirates. He left the AHL in his rear view then and hasn’t been back. Halpern debuted with a veteran Capitals team in 1999-00, a 102-point team that overcame a sluggish start to win Washington’s first division title in more than a decade. As a rookie on that team, Halpern scored a respectable 18 goals and totaled 29 points. He was also a plus-21, which remains the single-season best mark of his NHL career. As a sophomore in 2000-01, Halpern skated on a line with Steve Konowalchuk and Ulf Dahlen, forming what was arguably the best No. 3 unit in the league. The trio’s ability to dominate play down low in the offensive zone, cycle and churn up loose pucks made them an effective shutdown option. Each of the three players totaled at least 42 points and the threesome combined to account for 60 goals. Halpern scored a memorable game-winning overtime tally against Pittsburgh in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal Series with the Penguins, helping the Caps draw even at 2-2 in a series Washington went on to lose in six games. A serious knee injury derailed Halpern in 2001-02, but he bounced back with 13 goals in 2002-03 and 19 in 2003-04. Named the team captain for the 2005-06 season, Halpern skated 20 minutes a night – a career best in average ice time – in the season immediately following the lockout, putting up 11 goals and 44 points in the process. Halpern signed a four-year deal with Dallas as an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2006. He later moved to Tampa Bay and then Los Angeles via the trade route before signing a one-year deal with the Habs last September. Halpern has played a total of 792 regular season games in his NHL career, including 438 in a Washington sweater.
Five years and a day after he signed a free agent deal with the Dallas Stars and departed the District, veteran center Jeff Halpern addressed the local media at Kettler Capitals Iceplex on Wednesday. Halpern’s press conference with the local hockey media came five days after the 11-year veteran