The Capitals were founded in 1974 as an expansion franchise, alongside the Kansas City Scouts. Since purchasing the team in 1999, Leonsis revitalized the franchise by drafting star players such as Alexander Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, John Carlson and Braden Holtby. The 2009–10 Capitals won the franchise's first Presidents' Trophy for being the team with the most points at the end of the regular season. They won it a second time in 2015–16, and did so for a third time the following season in 2016–17. In addition to 12 division titles and three Presidents' Trophies, the Capitals have reached the Stanley Cup Finals in 1998 and 2018, winning in the latter.
The Capitals have retired the use of four numbers in honor of four players. In addition, the team holds an association with a number of individuals inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. The Capitals are presently affiliated with two minor league teams, the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League, and the South Carolina Stingrays of the ECHL.