(1976 - )
Jeff Halpern is a Jewish American professional hockey player. He is a member of the Greater Washington (D.C.) Jewish Sports Hall of
Born in Potomac, a suburb of Washington, D.C., Halpern is one of only
three skaters from Maryland in the history of the NHL. His long journey
to the top hockey league in the world began as a youngster when he went
to Capitals' games with his parents. He explained, "I suppose I
was there when I was a newborn. I have a collection of memories: racing
over to games with my family, sitting up in the Cap Center, in the upper
corners, watching the games."
His parents encouraged him to take up skating at the age of three, and
enrolled him in a hockey clinic the following year. By the age of nine,
Jeff was playing with kids of ten and eleven as a member of the Little
Caps, a team comprised of the best players in the D.C. area. This allowed
him to play more competitive hockey, but also meant he had to take trips
to New York, Connecticut, and even Canada. His father Mel, who drove
him to the tournaments, said, "We were in Ottawa July 1, Canada
Day, five years in a row, for tournaments. We went to a tournament in
Montreal three or four years in a row. Jeff was getting exposed to the
best players on the East Coast."
When Jeff reached high school, however, Churchill High School in Potomac
had no hockey team, and he was forced to travel great distances to continue
his dream. Halpern then attended prep school in New Hampshire, with
the goal of going to college with a strong hockey program.
Although Jeff played well in high school, he still did not attract
attention from Division I schools. After graduating, he decided to play
for a year in Stratford, Ontario, where he led his team to a championship
and received attention from Ivy League schools, including Princeton,
where he decided to matriculate. While at Princeton, Halpern played
four seasons of varsity hockey and was named a ECAC second team All-Star
in 1998 and 1999. His senior season (1999), Jeff was team captain and
scored 22 goals, good enough to tie for the most goals in the ECAC,
while leading the Tigers to a share of the Ivy League title (with Yale)
and the most wins in school history; he also was co-winner of Princeton's
Roper Trophy, awarded for athletic and academic achievement.
After college, Halpern was approached by NHL teams and agents, but
he was only interested in playing for the Capitals, the team he grew
up watching. After signing with Washington in March 1999, Jeff spent
the remainder of the season in the AHL with Portland; he scored two
goals and had one assist in six games. In 1999-2000, Halpern had a sensational
rookie season with the Washington Capitals. Jeff played center in 79
games and scored 18 goals, had 11 assists, and 39 penalty minutes. In
five playoff games, Halpern had two goals and one assist. Among rookies
during the regular season, Halpern ranked No. 1 in shooting percentage
(16.7%), No. 2 in short-handed goals (four), No. 1 in plus/ minus (+21),
and No. 6 in goals scored.
Halpern improved during the 2000-01 season and surpassed his previous
year's scoring totals. Jeff played in 80 games, scored 21 goals (one
short-handed and five game-winning), with 21 assists (six power play
assists) for 42 total points; he also had 60 penalty minutes and +13
plus/minus rating. His 19.1 shooting percentage (21-110) was among the
highest in the league. The Capitals finished in first place in the Southeast
Division with a record of 41-27-10 (96 points).
He signed a two-year contract with Washington during training camp
and was considered a key player entering the 2001-02 season. Although
the Caps had added superstar Jaromir Jagr to its roster, they struggled
throughout the year and finished in second place in their division with
a record of 36-33-11 (85 points). Unfortunately, Halpern tore his anterior
cruciate ligament on January 16 in a game against the Montreal Canadiens
and had season-ending surgery. Prior to his injury, Halpern, who had
gained a reputation as a defensive center in his first two NHL seasons,
played in 48 games and was eighth on the team with 19 points (5 goals
and 14 assists).
During the 2002-03 season, Halpern appeared in all 82 regular season
games as center of the Capitals' checking line, one of the best defensive
lines in the league. Washington finished the season in second place
in the Southeast Division with a record of 39-29-8-6 (92 points). Halpern
scored 13 goals and 21 assists; he was eighth on the team with 34 total
points. The No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference, the Caps played the
Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round of the playoffs. After winning
the first two games of the series, the Caps lost the next four, including
a triple-overtime thriller in Game 6. He registered one assist in the
series, but took the most face-offs on Washington.
Halpern played for the Dallas Stars (2006-2007), Tampa Bay Lightning (2007-2009), Los Angeles Kings (2009), Montreal Canadiens (2010), Washington Capitals (2011) and New York Rangers (2012) before arriving back at the Montreal Canadiens during the 2012-2013 season.
in Sports; Wikipedia