Craig Berube

Date of Last Contract:July 7, 2000

Signed Through: 2000-2001 Season



Retro Capitals Sign Berube

By David Elfin
The Washington Times
Saturday, July 8, 2000; Page C6

First Coco, now the Chief.

A day after bringing back defenseman Sylvain Cote, the Washington Capitals went for another rerun yesterday as they signed tough guy and locker room leader Craig Berube.

Berube, 34, received a one-year, $700,000 deal to leave Eastern Conference runner-up Philadelphia and rejoin the Caps, for whom he skated from 1993 to 1999. The Calahoo, Alberta, native ranks third in team history in penalty minutes with 1,202, behind Dale Hunter's 2,003 and Scott Stevens' 1,630. Berube's 2,813 career minutes are eighth in NHL history.

"I don't think I would have considered any team except Washington or Philadelphia, and [Caps general manager] George McPhee made a better offer than the Flyers did,'' Berube said. ``I'm excited about coming back. I really liked playing for George and [coach] Ron Wilson a lot, and I think the Caps are on the right track. They've got some good young talent, a solid defense and a great goalie in Olie Kolzig."

The 6-foot-1, 205-pound Berube is a logical replacement for Jim McKenzie, the physical fourth-line left wing who signed with New Jersey as a free agent July 1.

Last season was typical for Berube, who had been traded from Washington to Philadelphia for future considerations in March 1999. He led the Flyers with 162 penalty minutes (tied for 13th in the league) while scoring a mere four goals and adding eight assists. Berube has led his team in penalty minutes in 10 of his 12 full seasons, finishing second the other two years.

In 873 career games, Berube has just 56 goals and 90 assists. But two of Berube's three goals in his 89 career playoff games have been game-winners. The first gave Washington a 3-2 series lead in the 1998 Eastern Conference finals against Buffalo en route to the Caps' only Stanley Cup finals berth. The second put the Flyers up 3-1 in this May's Eastern finals against the eventual champion Devils.

"I play hard every night, and I lead by example on the ice, and I lead in the room,'' Berube said. ``And I can bring something in the playoffs. I've been in a lot of playoff games. You need grinders like me to have success in the playoffs."

The only downside for Berube is that he just sold his Maryland house, so now he's in the market for a new place to call home.

"I'm hoping I finish my career in Washington,'' Berube said.

Washington has added Cote and Berube this offseason while re-signing right wings Ulf Dahlen and Joe Murphy, left wing Joe Sacco and backup goalie Craig Billington. Negotiations are ongoing to retain defenseman Rob Zettler, while former All-Star right wing Peter Bondra is being shopped.

The return of Berube gives the Caps 12 players from the 1998 finalists. Left wing Steve Konowalchuk missed the playoff run with a broken wrist. Cote was traded to Toronto that March after nearly seven full seasons in Washington.