Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to this special edition of TXHT as we do a career retrospective on former NHL player and current TV color commentator for the Washington Capitals, Craig Laughlin.
Craig Alan Laughlin was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on September 19th, 1957. In 1977 he would be drafted by the Montreal Canadiens, but would continue to play for Clarkson University for three more years before going to the Nova Scotia Voyageurs of the American Hockey League. During the 1981-82 season Laughlin would make his NHL debut with the Canadiens on December 3rd, 1981 against the Detroit Red Wings in Detroit.
After his debut in Detroit, Laughlin would make his debut in Montreal as the Canadiens would host the Calgary Flames, and in his second career game he would score his first career NHL goal. While with the Canadiens, Laughlin would only spend the 1981-82 season with them. He would score 12 goals and 11 assists for 23 points in 36 games played. Laughlin would play in two games against the Washington Capitals, and he would record a goal and an assist for two points, and he would also register six shots on goal, and one powerplay point.
In the 1982 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Laughlin would play in three games and would only record an assist for the Canadiens.
On September 9th, 1982 Laughlin would be traded alongside Brian Engblom, Doug Jarvis, and Rod Langway to the Capitals for Rick Green and Ryan Walter. The trade would give Laughlin a more permanent home and an opportunity to be a more steady presence in the lineup while in Washington compared to Montreal. The trade would also reinvigorate a very lowly Washington franchise that had never made the playoffs and were at times in danger of folding or relocating.
Laughlin would enjoy almost six seasons in Landover (MD) at the Capital Centre as he would play 428 games that would see him record 110 goals and 173 assists for 283 points. In his first season with the Capitals, Laughlin would record 17 goals and 27 assists for 44 points in 75 games played. He would then play in four playoff games and record only one goal. Laughlin would also record his first career three point (1g, 2a) game against the Pittsburgh Penguins on December 2nd, 1982.
In his second season in Washington, Laughlin would play in all 80 games, score 20 goals, and hit the 50 point plateau (52) for the first time in his career. Laughlin would also record a career high 69 penalty minutes. In the playoffs Laughlin would have his best career playoffs as he would play in eight games and record four goals and two assists for six points. Laughlin would record five more three point games during the 1983-84 season.
In the 1984-85 season Laughlin would hit the 50 point plateau for a second season in a row as he would record 16 goals and 34 assists in 78 games played to hit the 50 point mark. However, during the playoffs, he would play in five games, but would go pointless throughout the series. On November 27th, 1984 Laughlin would record his first and only career four point game when he would score two goals and two assists against the Quebec Nordiques while on the road.
For Laughlin the 1985-86 season would be his greatest NHL season as he would record 30 goals and 45 assists for 75 points in 75 games played. This would mark the first time in his career that he would reach 30 goals, 40 assists, and 70 points in his career. Laughlin would also be a career best +24 for the Capitals that season. However, During the playoffs Laughlin would not have the same puck luck as he would only play in 9 games and record a goal and two assists for three points. He would also have a career high 10 penalty minutes during the 1986 playoffs.
The 1986-87 season would mark Laughlin’s fifth season with the Capitals and his numbers would come back down to what he had done in the two previous seasons to the 1985-86 season as he would play in all 80 games for only the second time in his career and he would record 22 goals and 30 assists for 52 points. Laughlin would only suit up in one playoff game for the Capitals during the 1987 playoffs.
The 1987-88 season would mark the end of Laughlin’s time in Landover. After playing 40 games for the Capitals that season he would only produce five goals and five assists for ten points. This dip in production would cause the Capitals to move on from Laughlin as they would trade him on February 9th, 1988 to the Los Angeles Kings for Grant Ledyard.
Los Angeles and Toronto
Upon arriving in Los Angeles Laughlin would suit up in 19 games and would record 4 goals and 8 assists for 12 points. This would give Laughlin a combined 9 goals and 13 assist for 22 points in 59 games played during the 1987-88 season. In the playoffs Laughlin would suit up in three games for the Kings, but would only record an assist.
As a free agent Laughlin would get the opportunity to play for his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs during the 1988-89 season. He would go on to record ten goals and 13 assists for 23 points in 66 games played. Unfortunately for Laughlin, the Leafs would not qualify for the playoffs and ending Laughlin’s streak of going to the Stanley Cup Playoffs at six years.
After a pair of disappointing seasons in the NHL Laughlin would head to Germany to play for Landshut EV. He would record 22 goals and 11 assists for 33 points in 35 games played while in the German Hockey League, however, Landshut EV would not qualify for the playoffs.
Laughlin would then retire after an eight year NHL career that would see him record 136 goals and 205 assists for 341 points in 549 games played. In the Stanley Cup Playoffs Laughlin would play in 33 games, and he would record six goals and six assists for 12 points. Laughlin would produce three 50 point seasons and one 75 point season. He would also go on to have two 20 goal seasons and one 30 goal season. For assists Laughlin would produce three 30 assist seasons and one 45 assist season. All noteworthy accomplishments done while with the Washington Capitals.
After retiring as an active competitor in the hockey, Laughlin would make the transition to the booth as he would become the Capitals color commentator starting with the 1990-91 season. in 1994 Laughlin would be paired with play by play voice Joe Beninati and as they would say, the rest would become history.