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Boudreau: Theodore Enters Camp as No. 1


(John McDonnell - The Washington Post)


A lot of people believe young Semyon Varlamov earned the right to be the Caps' No. 1 goaltender with his mostly stellar play in the playoffs.

Coach Bruce Boudreau is not one of them.

Boudreau said this morning that veteran Jose Theodore will enter training camp as the top goalie and it will be up to Varlamov and Michal Neuvirth to unseat him.

"Right now Jose is the No. 1 guy and the other two young men have got to come in and play the way they did last year and try to push him out," Boudreau said this morning at KCI, where Arturs Irbe was announced as the team's new goalie coach. "Jose won 33 games for us last year, and like the year before when Cristobal Huet got hot down the stretch, Varly came in and did a great job where we just couldn't take him out."

"But that was 13 games," Boudreau added, referring to Varlamov's postseason run. "It doesn't make up for 12 years of experience. I've seen an awful lot of goalies come in at a young age and go into a slump for a year or two. I think Jose has earned and deserves the right [to be] the No. 1 guy."

Hmmm... Sounds like the competition for the starting job in goal is going to be pretty intense.

I'll have more on the hiring of Irbe later. Part of the reason Irbe was hired, according to GM George McPhee, was because he speaks Russian and will be able better convey the nuances of a complicated position to Varlamov, whose English is still spotty.

Here's a video introducing Irbe:

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  August 13, 2009; 10:26 AM ET
 
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Next: Irbe Ready for New Challenge

Comments

I wonder how long it takes Irbe to learn Canadian for "you're benched 3ormore"

Posted by: caps512 | August 13, 2009 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Hopefully, Boudreau is only trying to get Varly prepared for a long intense season.

Posted by: capsfan01 | August 13, 2009 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Hey, I agree... And before you all start throwing egg at me, 3ormore can play the Reg season and take the load. That will keep Varly fresh for what really matters, the Play Offs!!!!

Posted by: hbcapsfan | August 13, 2009 10:38 AM | Report abuse

"Part of the reason Irbe was hired... was because he speaks Russian"
I speak russian too, can you hire me GMGM? Ummmm, or we can just make Varlamov learn English like any other player... This is silly...

Posted by: jlivsics | August 13, 2009 10:38 AM | Report abuse

@jlivsics

He is learning English, but since it is not very good and you are looking to have him as a backup, it would be in the clubs best interest to have a coach that is able to communicate easily with him. He still needs to speak to the team mates, so he will learn English.

I for one, like this move.

Posted by: hbcapsfan | August 13, 2009 10:50 AM | Report abuse

As a coach you have to take this approach. If he were to say...Jose has got to get his job back, it would not help the situation going into camp.

By taking this approach it
- Keeps Jose happy
- Keeps Varly Hungry

We all know that Bruce wont be afraid to switch it up.

It is going to be a battle, and going into the last 33% of the season, we will have our #1 and our #2...at least we better if we want to have a shot at the cup...

Posted by: SA-Town | August 13, 2009 10:52 AM | Report abuse

this is a contract year for jose and like most players he will step his game up

Posted by: _stevo | August 13, 2009 11:03 AM | Report abuse

C'mon, he Irbe didn't only get the job because he speaks Russian, he was a darn good goaltender too. This sounds like a good hire to me.

Posted by: fanohock1 | August 13, 2009 11:16 AM | Report abuse

I like the competition. Varlamov is young so you needs some pressure under him, or rather above him I guess, to prove he is the real thing. Theodore has something to prove, so maybe he has a restoration year.

Posted by: mcgratsp | August 13, 2009 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Irbe is our Goaltender Coach/#4 goalie on the depth chart.

Posted by: SA-Town | August 13, 2009 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Man, this is going to be one of the most competitive camps we have had in years!

A ton of NHL quality players competiting for very few positions...only makes us better. Hopefully, we stay healthy through camp.

Posted by: lylewimbledon | August 13, 2009 11:31 AM | Report abuse

I know!! I am so excited!!! Does anyone know the preseason schedule?

Posted by: capsfan01 | August 13, 2009 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Irbe, please do not make our goalies wear your old style helmet ... please!

Don't hand the future to Varly just yet, Neuvirth looked really good last year. Great thing is we have a (wobbly) vet under contract this year and two young guys with much upside.

Posted by: flee001 | August 13, 2009 11:49 AM | Report abuse

In response to dcsportsfan1 from the Halpern post:

dcsportsfan1:

First, lets get facts straight. Ted Leonsis purchased the team the summer after the Caps made the Stanley Cup Final. Dan Snyder purchased the Redskins in the late 1990s, 5 years into the Norv Turner era and six years removed from a playoff appearance. So don't even try and sell that the Redskins were a successful franchise when Snyder came on board, that simply isn't the truth. The Redskins were less than mediocre prior to Snyder's tenure. Now I am not jocking Snyder's ownership, but don't try and compare where Leonsis started to where Snyder started. Leonsis started with a SC Final team and through his ownership destroyed the franchise and his whole ownership tenure has been saved by getting Ovechkin.

Second, You talk about Snyder alienating fans and game day experience. I couldn't care less about game day experience. I would trade a great game day experience for championships any day of the week and I'm sure every fan would agree. Ted has jaded everyone's view as to him and his team by putting on a great atmosphere at the arena (and I agree he has) but his product on the ice has continued to underachieve. Every fan and every expert that looks at the Caps has consistently stated that the one area that this team needs improvement on is at the back end on defense. Yet, three or four years later we are still waiting for that improvement.

Third, you cite the Caps 4 division titles. The Caps play in the worst division in the entire NHL and perhaps in all of sports. The Redskins play in the toughest division in football and one of the toughest in pro-sports. It should actually be disappointing that the Caps have only one 4 division titles in the southleast...and yes, I expect more from the Redskins as well and they have been disappointing too.

Ahhh, the classic Pens vs. Caps argument. Were the Pens lucky to get Crosby, sure. But here is where your comparison falls apart and why Mario is a million times better than Leonsis as an owner. In the four years since the lockout and since Ovie and Crosby first appeared in the NHL the Penguins have been to two Stanley Cup Finals and won a campionship. What have the Caps achieved as a franchsie in that time frame? One playoff series win and that was in seven games against a piss poor Rangers team. To take that discussion forward, the Penguins also have a GM who is willing to trade an asset to get players to help the franchise win today. We have a GM and owner who keep talking about the future and being competitive for 10 years. That is fine and well, but they refuse to use any of the potential assets of the future to help the team today and teams need to do that to win.

Sure, most fans may agree with you today. That doesn't mean they are right.

Posted by: freakinandpeakin | August 13, 2009 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Good move by signing Irbe. He has a very calm demeanor and was a good goaltender for the whale, the fact that he can speak russian is a bonus.

Also a good call on making Theo the number 1 going in. As someone said above, this is a contract year and I'm thinking Theo will hav a good year. Varly (or Neuvy) is not ready to take a full load yet in my opinion.

Capsfan01, I believe the preseason schedule is up on nhl.com. I think the caps play the blackhawks, rangers and buffalo twice each.

Posted by: Moose33 | August 13, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse

@freakin etc
The Caps will have their D men this season, while the Skins will still boo-hoo about their offensive line. Until Snyder wises up and hire a real GM like GMGM they will be relative losers in the NFC East.

Posted by: adhardwick | August 13, 2009 12:02 PM | Report abuse

@freakinandpeakin

I agree with most of what you said but after 98 our prospects sucked. We bet the farm to get to the cup and lost, thats why we had to rebuild. So lets not blame the bad years on Ted completly. Which would you rather have an ok caps team for years or a team that tanked and is becoming a contender.

This year is NOT the year to sell our assets off for the cup. Lets get rid of circles and 3ormore and then have the cap room to make a serious run.

All I want is the 2nd round and to know who the franchise goalie is going forward.

Posted by: caps512 | August 13, 2009 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Really, what d-men? The same crew we have had the past two seasons that has achieved to their capabilities. I don't think the defensemen the Caps have are underachieving. I think they are exactly who they should be. The problem is that all but three (at most) should be 5-7 on the depth chart and of the three that are top 4 one is a number 3 (Poti), one is a 4 (Mo) and one is a 2 (Green) The Caps don't have a number one d-man.

Posted by: freakinandpeakin | August 13, 2009 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Wow freakinandpeakin, bitter much?

We have a GM that pulled trades the prior season and it got us that close to moving on. So he ended up without the flexibility at this past seasons trade deadline. The right deal wasn't there. OK. Yes, you can say that it was his fault that we did not have the flexibility. He also had an improvement in D coming online with Pothier. We were a couple broken feet away from advancing.

Also, that worst division in the league, if I recall correctly, gave the other divisions fits and landed two teams in the final 8.

Posted by: _Mark | August 13, 2009 12:12 PM | Report abuse

@freakinandpeakin

The Redskins play in perhaps the most overrated division in all of sports. It is nowhere close to the best or toughest. Was it many years ago sure. Right now the NFC South, AFC South, and possibly the AFC East are all tougher divisions than the NFC East.

I know that wasn't the point of your statement but just felt obligated to point that out.

Posted by: ThePat | August 13, 2009 12:12 PM | Report abuse

"a real GM like GMGM"

If GMGM, was really that good, he wouldn't be ranked #18 on THN's annual list of top GMs.

Posted by: ImWithStupid | August 13, 2009 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Being a Caps fan > being a Redskins fan.

More entertaining games. FAR less medoicrity. Much less expensive. Much more accessible. Much better to watch live. Best player in the league.

Now I don't like comparisons- as they are generally subjective. So, I'm open to criticism on my aformentioned points.
FYI- I bought my season tickets towards the end of the 06-07 season. And I contend it was still more exciting to watch the Caps back then.

Posted by: Fro_ | August 13, 2009 12:19 PM | Report abuse

THN is a bunch of donkeys that think the Milwaukee Admirals have a great jersey. Gag. TERRIBLE source to reference when backing up your theory.

Posted by: thiazzi | August 13, 2009 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Well, there you go. Someone ranked him #18. Maybe he can trade himself for one of the top five.

Posted by: _Mark | August 13, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Caps512: Then who is responsible for the bad early years if not Ted? GMGM? If so, he should have been fired in 2004, but he wasn't. I don't think he should be fired now, because since the lockout he has done better but he should have been canned a long time ago.

Second, you seem to have bought into the Leonsis line of "we want to be competitive for the next ten years". Why is being competitive for the next ten years and being competitive now mutually exclusive? The Pens have traded assets the last two seasons and have won a Cup and I am willing to say they will be good for the next ten years. Like it or not, that is the model we should emulate, but we are not.

At the end of last season what was the Caps biggest hole? Surely you aren't going to say offense. Probably not goal either, with Varly and Neuvirth on the horizion. The biggest hole was defense. The Caps spent $4.3 million dollars on two aging forwards (I don't have a problem with either player) and $0 was spent to upgrade the defense. Let me say that again. Not one penny was spent to upgrade the defensive talent on this team. Instead they have brought back the same defensive group that was far less than championship caliber from last season.

Posted by: freakinandpeakin | August 13, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

This is just a way for him to let Varly know that he has to work for his spot. 3orMore is done. He's a has been with an expensive contract, but a force no more.

Posted by: cookingkman | August 13, 2009 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Boudreau is right. I'm not saying Varlamov isn't a good goaltender, but young guys are known to go into slumps, which lead to injuries. Carey Price, Kari Lehtonen, Rick DiPietro.

It's also Theodore's contract year and still be in his early thirties. I'm sure he is still going to want to play in the NHL which means he will want to show some teams he can still be a solid netminder. If all else fails, we have Neuvirth and Varlamov.

Posted by: hockeynightincanada | August 13, 2009 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Maybe there will be a real competition, but:
"Right now Jose is the No. 1 guy and the other two young men have got to come in and play the way they did last year and try to push him out," that statement does not even sound as if it is open for debate.

BB is a lucky coach in which he was handed a great group of players, and now is getting his own coaches, his bag of excuses is getting smaller ... LOL, let the hate posts begin ...

Posted by: hock1 | August 13, 2009 12:32 PM | Report abuse

freakin:

Caps are weak on defense, no doubt. i am hoping a couple of moves are in the works to fill the hole you have so eloquently identified.

Posted by: doughless | August 13, 2009 12:37 PM | Report abuse

@Mark

Not bitter at all. Just think the franchise is being mismanaged from the on ice perspective.

What trades got us almost to move on last season? Fedorov, Cooke and Huet? The team didn't even get out of the first round. That is what amazes me. The team loses in the first round and somehow you and many Caps fans have spun that as a success.

I do acknowledge that the team doesn't make the playoffs without those trades, but that is because GMGM hired Glen Hanlon who should never have been an NHL coach. Once the team had a competent coach behind the bench the team greatly improved and those trades were needed for that insane run at the end of the season to squeak in.

All I want is an honest assessment of this franchise, its management and what it actually is. Like it or not the fact is that the Ted Leonsis era has been litered with playoff failures...if they even make the playoffs. This team has the best player in the world and in those four years they have one playoff series victory. (I am not necessarily saying they should be SC Champs yet, but they should certainly be better than they are)

Posted by: freakinandpeakin | August 13, 2009 12:39 PM | Report abuse

@freakinandpeakin

I am obviously new to hockey (tho' learning rapidly and am a rabid fan of our current team) and I have never been particularly interested in football so I will defer to others regarding the two franchises' history,

But I know a HUGE number of people who are Redskins fans. And what I have heard consistently from this fan base over the past year or so is how jealous they are of the success of the Capitals' franchise and of Leonsis as our owner. The consensus I've heard at game day parties and in casual group conversations is how much they hate Snyder.

As to the classic Pens vs. Caps argument, I don't want Mario as an owner, otherwise Ovi might have to live with him. I think Ovi likes his independence.

Posted by: newbiecapsfan07 | August 13, 2009 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Here is my question to the Board.......would you trade 5 years of being competitive for one year of winning the Cup? I will take the Cup, some of us have watched for 35 years and no Cups.

Posted by: RichC3 | August 13, 2009 12:40 PM | Report abuse

@ freakin: Just enjoy the damn game. If the fun is out of the Capitals for you, stop watching. Stop complaining. Some of us actually want the season to start and could do without the "Capitals s*ck and here's why" speeches.

Posted by: LeftCoastCapsFan | August 13, 2009 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and what the Capitals haven't done in getting more D-men (like we don't have enough of), they did get a new defensive coach who gels better I would think with Mr. Boudreau's style. Why not let it play out instead of insisting on getting more D-men and trading off people you don't care much for.

Posted by: LeftCoastCapsFan | August 13, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

The biggest hole was defense. The Caps spent $4.3 million dollars on two aging forwards (I don't have a problem with either player) and $0 was spent to upgrade the defense. Let me say that again. Not one penny was spent to upgrade the defensive talent on this team. Instead they have brought back the same defensive group that was far less than championship caliber from last season.

Posted by: freakinandpeakin | August 13, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

well, your argument makes sense if you go with the presumption that players (particularly young dmen) dont get better as they age and get more experience.

as for spending $4.3 on knuble and morrison. well, thats because they stopped paying $6M for feds and koz. fact is they had no UFA dmen this year and therefore no one to replace (yet).

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | August 13, 2009 12:45 PM | Report abuse

id take the cup anyday of the week

Posted by: _stevo | August 13, 2009 12:46 PM | Report abuse

rich, great question. tough to answer. as with you, i would love a cup after all these years. so if it were that simple, i think most folks would take the big shiny cup.

however, i think the more relevent question is, would you rather be competitive for the cup for 10 years or just three? like any championship, winning takes some luck too. you can be the best team in the league and not win it all. i think the caps thought is to be compeititive for the cup for a long time vs. putting all your chips on the table in one or two years.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | August 13, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse

No right or wrong answer, it all depends on what your prefer, to watch a lot of winning in the regular season (the Cubs) and failing during the playoffs or loosy most of the time during the regular season for a long time then getting good one season and winning the big one every so often( The Marlins), but knowing the team is going to be blown up right away.

Posted by: RichC3 | August 13, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Like Wall!

Posted by: SuperG5 | August 13, 2009 12:58 PM | Report abuse

I will take them one by one.

@newbiecapsfan07: I love both the Skins and the Caps and I understand where the Skins fans are coming from. Do you think those Redskins fans would be happy if they had the best player in the sport, went 12-4 or 11-5 and were losing in the first or second round of the playoffs each season and the ownership was ignoring the recognized weakness of the team?

I want a championship for this team. Sadly, this roster has been largely the same for the last three seasons...the previous two having resulted in one playoff series victory and this team is literally one injury away from not making the playoffs.

@RichC3: That is my point exactly. I remember when the Rangers won the Cup after 54 years in 1994 and seeing those signs that said, "I can now die in peace". Ted keeps building for the future, how about winning a Cup before worrying about the future.

@LeftCoastCapsFan: When did I say the Capitals suck? Find it, I know you won't because I never said it. This is a really really good team and have the possibility to be champions, but management keeps ignoring the weaknesses on the team that will put them over the top.

I'm sorry that I can't just accept that everything the Caps do is wonderful and everything is perfect because they almost won in the second round, because it isn't. Chicago, a team with younger stars than the Caps, made the Conference Finals!

Posted by: freakinandpeakin | August 13, 2009 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and what the Capitals haven't done in getting more D-men (like we don't have enough of), they did get a new defensive coach who gels better I would think with Mr. Boudreau's style. Why not let it play out instead of insisting on getting more D-men and trading off people you don't care much for.

Posted by: LeftCoastCapsFan | August 13, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

So the difference for this defense is Woods instead of Leach? Come on, you can't actually believe that. As for the free agents, The Caps re-signed three restricted free agents this offseason. Mo, Jurcina and Schultz (that doesn't include the re-signing of Erskine during the season). GMGM could have let all three walk and used the money to sign a high end defensemen. I would rather have a defense of Green, Pothier, Poti, Erskine, Alzner, Carlson and a Bouwmeester or Komisarek (both were UFAs) than adding Mo, Jurcina and Schultz to the current mix.

@dcsportsfan1: I guess it comes down to that I don't buy the whole only be competitive for a few years instead of ten years argument. With a core of Ovie, Backstrom, Semin and Green they will be competitive for the next decade. Like it or not most of the other players on the team are interchangeable...and that is the case for every franchise.

Posted by: freakinandpeakin | August 13, 2009 1:11 PM | Report abuse

@freakinandpeakin

I agree with some of what you say, but basing success purely on the series wins is a bit off. I, for one, would say the Caps had a better season than the Canes, for instance, even though the Canes made the conference finals. When the Canes had to play the same team we did, they got swept and in grand fashion, whereas we were a bounce or two in overtime from winning the series. Chicago, a team with younger stars than the Caps, made the Conference finals without playing either the Caps or Penguins. You think the Caps couldn't have beaten the Flames and Canucks? The second the Hawks hit a team with any reasonable shot, they got beat.

And when comparing it to the Redskins, the playoff win over Tampa was one of the worst performances in history to ever win a playoff game, so it's not saying much.

Just for curiosity's sake, what trade/FA acquisition should the Caps have made in this offseason to fill your described hole?

Posted by: SmallZ827 | August 13, 2009 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Hiring of Irbe was a good move for the Caps since he was a long-time NHL goalie AND speaks Russian. Both Varlamov and Neuvirth will benefit from being able to communicate the nuances of playing the position better with a goalie coach who speaks their langugage. Theo isn't our long-term solution as our No. 1 goalie, so having Irbe as the goalie coach will be a benefit both now and in the future. After Green, Poti, and possibly Pothier, we have a bunch of 3rd pair defenseman on our roster.

@freakinandpeakin has some good points about the Caps failure to address their chronic needs for a top flight defensive defenseman as well as improving our depth at the position. I don't see Alzner or Carlson being able to fulfill the role of a No. 1 defensemen anytime soon. We saw what happened in the playoffs when going against a team like Pittsburgh. Anyone who doesn't think we need an upgrade on the blueline to get to the next level is sadly deluding themselves. I hope that GMGM makes a trade in the near future to address this need.

Posted by: wizfan89 | August 13, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

freakin. i sure hope you are right about being competitive w/ those guys for a long time. i personally believe you need to have a strong supporting cast, including a goalie who can perform particuarly in the playoffs. folks say that the pens w/ compete for a long time since they have crosby, malkin stahl and fluery signed. i say they probably wont suck, but they have mortgaged a bit of their future w/ some of their trades and therefore dont have the farm system to fill in the gaps, particularly on d. they also wont have as much in the way of propects to deal to get guys like guein if needed.

i suspect you will see a little less patience by the caps management when it comes to dealing players and prospects. i believe the team is being built to compete for a cup starting this year, but really has its sights set on next year and beyond.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | August 13, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

@SmallZ827: Do you think the Sharks would consider this past season a success? President's Trophy and bounced in the first round. How about the Penguins? They struggled the whole regular season until the end and went on to win the Cup. Will anyone remember those regular seasons? It is all about the playoffs. You can cite Chicago and Carolina all you want, but both teams made it further than the Caps and that is the goal. Would you rather go out in 7 games in the second round or get swept in the Finals? I would say that the 1998 Caps team was more successful than this past seasons Caps team, even though this past seasons team was better. The goal isn't to be a tougher match for the Penguins and I get no solace from the fact that we took the Pens to seven games...do you think Detroit does?

As for the trade/UFA signing I made a couple of suggestions of players to make a play for already (and that is all you can ask) in Bouwmeester and Komisarek.

Posted by: freakinandpeakin | August 13, 2009 1:35 PM | Report abuse

What's with all the impatience, even panic? The Caps took the SC Champs to 7 games, have the best player in the world, 2 other all-star level forwards, the best offensive defenseman in the league, 2 of the best d-man prospects in the league, and 2 or 3 good young goalies and a solid vet. The organization is solid for the future. All that can be done is put the team in position to win (which it is now).

Posted by: zmega | August 13, 2009 1:37 PM | Report abuse

@dcsportsfan1: I agree you need a strong supporting cast. But go through the Caps current roster and name me the players beyond those four that are not replaceable. That isn't directed at just the Caps, you can do that with most teams. Don't get me wrong, I am not advocating or suggesting wholesale changes, because that would destroy the team. What I am asking is name the individual players on the roster beyond those four where if they were removed from the team there would be a noticeable difference on the team.

Posted by: freakinandpeakin | August 13, 2009 1:44 PM | Report abuse

@freakinandpeakin

They made it further than the Caps because they got lucky, was my point. You can't do anything in the offseason to determine when you're going to face the eventual champion in the postseason. Detroit and Washington's seasons ended exactly the same way, so I'd say their seasons were about even.

What it sounds like is you think one team had a successful season last year, and there were 29 busts. Maybe I'm reading it wrong, but I don't think this team was a whole star player away from a championship, just a bounce or two. If an overtime had gone differently against the Penguins, it would probably have been the Caps taking on Detroit.

As for "will anyone remember those regular seasons" I think, yes, they will. There's something to the President's Trophy regardless of proceeding playoff performance. That's why they give a trophy for it. Just because Malkin's Conn Smythe Trophy was important doesn't mean people will forget Ovechkin's Harts.

That being said, I don't think the team is perfect and I, too, was hoping for Bouwmeester, but I don't think your characterization of a more- or less successful season is necessarily the same as mine, which is fine.

Posted by: SmallZ827 | August 13, 2009 1:44 PM | Report abuse

@zmega: "2 of the best d-man prospects in the league".

First, they are prospects, so who knows how good they will turn out to be. I certainly don't. Second, it takes 4 or 5 years for defensive players to really hit there stride...if they even pan out. I sure hope they do, but for a team whose window is open now you can't afford to wait 4 or 5 years to find out if they do pan out.

Posted by: freakinandpeakin | August 13, 2009 1:50 PM | Report abuse

freakin,
well, where would we have been w/out stecks in the playoffs. or erskine or pothier. laich and bradley. not to mention feds. of course ALL of these guys are replaceable. i'd rather have had nick lidstrom instead of eskine on the back line for sure. my point is you have to have a solid supporting cast behind your top guys. those guys need to be able to play with each other and within the system. you cant win by constantly turning over players even if they are replaced by guys w/ comparable skills.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | August 13, 2009 1:59 PM | Report abuse

@Smallz827: You actually believe that the Red Wings and Caps success this past season was about even?!?! That's just silly, equating a Finals appearance to losing in the second round.

Where did I say that only 1 team has a successful season. I think the Canes and Hawks can say the had a successful season, because the team improved as the season went along and they probably exceeded reasonable expectations in the playoffs and playoff success is the ultimate gauge. I guarantee you that every Sharks player was disappointed with how the season ended...and beyond the not winning the Cup perspective.

How do you figure the Caps were one or two bounces from the Finals? They would still have had to beat Carolina. You can't extrapolate that the Caps would have beaten Carolina because the Pens swept them. Could they have beaten the Canes, certainly, but they didn't even get the opportunity to try because they didn't beat the team in front of them.

Posted by: freakinandpeakin | August 13, 2009 2:02 PM | Report abuse

dcsportsfan1 you either sidestepped my point, or at least misunderstood it. I said you couldn't have wholesale changes and doing so would destroy the team, I fully admit that. I accept that a strong supporting cast is necessary to win and I wasn't talking about replacing role players with Lidstrom type players. My point was that subtracting, for example, Bradley as one of those role players and replacing him with a comparable player doesn't change the fortunes of the team. Replacing Pothier with Paul Mara doesn't change the fortunes of the team.

Yes, if you did that with all the roster players it would effect chemistry, but any individual role players are replaceable and over the next ten years the constant players on the team will be Ovechkin, Backstrom, Green and Semin. Bradley, Steckel, Gordon, Fehr, etc. will come and go.

Posted by: freakinandpeakin | August 13, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

@freakinandpeakin: Not sure what you are using to measure success. If you claim that you're not saying they should be Stanley Cup champions yet, isn't losing in Game 7 to the eventual Champion a pretty good season. The Pens breezed through Carolina. I know the loss the Pens stung, I'm lucky enough to have witnessed all the games live. Maybe you wouldn't feel the same way if the Caps would have lost in OT, or didn't lay an egg in Game 7, I don't know. The loss the the Pens stung like hell, I friggin' hate them, and not only because of Crosby. Pittsburgh fans, of all teams, are loud obnoxious people. They're also good at rubbing it in when they knock your team out. So to make a short story long...IMO the Caps have improved each of the last 2 years. Do we need to upgrade the "D", absolutely. Just one more 1-4 D man and we're set. Maybe that'll be Alzner.

Posted by: fanohock1 | August 13, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Why can't Woods change the way the D plays? One man can make a difference. The only change made when the Caps began to turn it around in 2007 was firing Hanlon and bring in BB. One man can make a difference.

Posted by: fanohock1 | August 13, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse

I can't see trading our good young prospects for some 30+ former all-star with a big contract. The older guys are more injury prone and tend to lose a step sooner than hoped for (e.g., Nylander). That kind of trade would be a panic move. I can see trading for a $2-3 M veteran defenseman to mentor Alzner, Carlson, and maybe even Green to some extent. That kind of trade could be accommodated by moving Nylander's salary (maybe half this year, half next year) and Theodore's next year. Beyond that, I think we're set.

Posted by: zmega | August 13, 2009 2:16 PM | Report abuse

freakin, i think we agree on that point. initially you said the team would be competitive just becaue they have ovie, green, semin, backs. my point was that i doubt they would suck w/ those guys, but i dont think the team will be competiting for a championship w/out a solid supporting cast.

no doubt replacing bradley wont kill the team expect when the have a 12 round shootout and all thats left on the bench is schultz and erskine...

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | August 13, 2009 2:18 PM | Report abuse

@ freakin: The tone of your opinions, you might as well have said they s*ck. That's like you saying, "I didn't say you weren't pretty. Just that you won't win any beauty contests any time soon."

And even with your theory about getting other defensemen to fill out what you feel is a faulty defense, you're assuming that whoever we get is better and will perform to your expectations. But again, as with the hiring of Woods, your hypothetical "we should hire so-and-so and get rid of so-and-so" isn't proven either. In both scenarios, yours and mine, it's not proven that the people you have in mind for defense will perform the way you think they'll perform with our team and with the exception of the players that Woods has coached in Hershey who are on the Capitals team, it's not proven that he will do as well in the NHL.

Chill, dude. I get how fact machines love the numbers and stats but bottom line is that it's a game for entertainment purposes. I don't see the entertainment value in criticizing the organization.

Posted by: LeftCoastCapsFan | August 13, 2009 2:19 PM | Report abuse

@fanohock1: I could tell in December this wasn't a Stanley Cup championship caliber team and got grief for saying so to friends at that time. The mistakes and weaknesses of this team were glaring at that time and they never improved and nothing was done to correct them. Beyond the defensive issues, that team had a very bad habit of not playing 60 minute games and that was going to kill them in the playoffs...and it did. In fact, it almost killed them in the first round against the Rangers.

Lets be honest, the actual playoff performance of the Caps this past season was poor. They were carried by a rookie goaltender to beat an offensivley inept team that barely made the playoffs and they basically got out played by the Penguins in each game for large stretches.

So, no barely beating a bad team and getting consistently outplayed by another team does not meet my definition of success.

Posted by: freakinandpeakin | August 13, 2009 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Woods can be a great coach, I have no clue. I can also get a great chef, but if I put him in a McDonald's there is only so much he can do with the ingredients. Schultz, Mo and Jurcina are who they are. I don't think they are bad defensemen. I think they are NHL caliber defensemen. The problem is that the Caps have about 5 defensemen right now that should be in the bottom pair or lower and they are forcing them to do more than they are capable. That is on the GM, not the players.

I guess LeftCoast you want to dance with the partner that brought you. I've seen how those players dance for three plus seasons now and think it is time for fresh blood.

As for some "tone" in my opinion. You obviously haven't read what I have said. I have consistently stated that they are championship caliber, I don't know how much clearer I can be that I don't think they suck. If they sucked I wouldn't care nearly as much. They are on the cusp and the team management is not making the moves to put them over the top.

Lastly, you have never criticized the team for anything? Where is your passion?

Posted by: freakinandpeakin | August 13, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

It's amazing how, being consistently outplayed, we still managed to take three of those games and keep three of the other four games within one goal. You think they would have run all over us.

And I can equate Detroit's season with Washington because they both accomplished the same thing, lose to Pittsburgh in seven games. I think the Caps, too, could have managed Columbus, Anaheim, and Chicago. Was the Caps postseason worlds better than Philly's? I don't think so. But it wasn't worlds worse than Carolina's or Detroit's, either, that's my point. We couldn't beat Pittsburgh, neither could anyone else. So, Pittsburgh aside, I'd say the Caps had as good a season as anyone else in the league.

Posted by: SmallZ827 | August 13, 2009 2:42 PM | Report abuse

as an owner of sports franchise, ted and gmgm's responsibility is to put a sellable product on the ice - not just in the playoffs but during the regular season also. i would think at the nhl level every player, coach, gm and owners goal at the start of a season is to win the cup. hockey is a business which is having trouble selling itself in the current economic climate. making decisions for a one year payoff could be catostrophic at this point. my opinion is that ted and gmgm are attempting to take the steps necessary to keep the franchise on the right track. not every move made by these two have worked out - nor will all the moves they make in the future - but i would much rather follow this team with a 'chance' every year than be fan that watches their one year wonder teams get dismantled (florida and tampa bay).
as a fan i would love to see the caps win the cup but not at the expense of having to go through another rebuild.

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | August 13, 2009 2:52 PM | Report abuse

stop freakin and start peakin

Posted by: boomer44 | August 13, 2009 4:20 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, freakin', verbally abusing and criticizing someone I love isn't exactly passion. Trust me, if I can't do any better than what the GM and the Coach have done before, during, and long after I'm a fan, I won't lose any sleep over it nor will I get up on a soapbox with my poster of repenting or dying. But the second they trade Semin, yeah, I'll be up in arms and show my "passion" for the team. In the mean time, I'm gonna' let things play out. Watching hockey and all the moves that lead up to every season, every game, every playoff game, is a gamble. To think we can influence that decision on a message board seems like a waste of time. But of course, that's your time and not mine. I'll agree to disagree with you.

Posted by: LeftCoastCapsFan | August 13, 2009 4:25 PM | Report abuse

The pressure just got heavier for the caps offense... better score 4 or more if you want to win !

Posted by: rvanags | August 13, 2009 4:34 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Capt_Kirk_in_AZ. We went to every home game and were even lucky enough to attend game 3 in Pittsburgh. (I heard a collective sigh of relief when that puck bounced off a skate into the net during OT and several Pens fans around us muttering disagreeably that we were a tough team to beat). Sometimes the hockey gods are with you--and sometimes not.

The Caps are exciting to watch--most of the time. When they play badly, it's painful. The fact that they do play well especially at home is what makes them a "sellable product." What I observed during the playoffs was not what so many of you call a "lack of grit" or "heart" but rather great plays followed by undisciplined moves or turnovers. And both the Redwings and Pens played much sharper as the playoffs progressed and especially in the finals. They had their share of mistakes too--and many Pens fans were ready to lynch Malkin during their series with us.

Our team I think needs to play this upcoming season being comfortable with being the favorites--and not as the underdogs. They usually played better last season with teams as strong as them. They need to play that way with the weaker ones.

I don't know enough about defender "grit" that so many of you get passionate about, except that in general it seems to be a contrast between a traditional big-checking stay-at-home defender versus the more recent trend to an offensive/defensive style defensive such as with Green. And I agree that getting someone to provide defensive leadership would be useful with our young defense guys. BUT I am glad that we did not trade away Neuwirth as part of package deal to get Pronger. Both of our young goalies are too important for a rash move.

I am waiting excitedly to see what the new season will bring. As one of the posters has said numerous times: patience grasshopper patience. (Tho' I admit patience for me is easier since I don't have the painful history of being a Caps fan in the 90s.)

Posted by: newbiecapsfan07 | August 13, 2009 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Naming 3or4 no. 1 is a good move. If he tanks then there's no one to blame but himself. And he can't say he didn't get a chance. If he plays well then good. Then we either have him playing up to par OR we have some trade bait at the deadline.

Posted by: jfwil | August 13, 2009 5:26 PM | Report abuse

Freakin'

I have to disagree with some of the things that you have said about the defense, mainly calling Mo (4). Mo on numerous occasions almost cost the Rangers series, and did cost us 2 goals in game 7 against the Pens. Would have been closer had he been in proper position, and not taking such dumb penalties. If anything he is a great guy to come up from the AHL periodically, but he is clearly not a top-6 d-man. The rest of the D-men played great. Jurcina was amazing, finally coming into his own, Erskine, what more can you say, we need that type of player reminisant of Witt, Green, nuff said, Poti, nuff Said. Pothier, lots to prove.and when you have Alzner, and Carlson in the wings, you should get rid of your weakest link...MO!!!!

It wont be a surprise if either Alzner and Carlson are sending MO down to Hershey, and then trade his ass. Maybe get an enforcer to protect Ovie, Backstrom, Semin, Fleisch, and everyone else come playoff time.

Im happy to know that Jose is #1 b/c we can tutor the other two, for when he does go through an incosistant time. Or can he become the Vezina winner for the 2nd time? Only the season will tell. All the goalies will benefit from having Irbe as their coach. If we can get a solid stay at home D-man, who is that physical presence back there, it only gives everyone else assurance to play that open style.

Posted by: pstylee | August 13, 2009 8:20 PM | Report abuse

Its all about a trade, they need to keep Jose's value up if they want anyone to take his contract off our hands

Posted by: peteywheatstraw | August 13, 2009 9:09 PM | Report abuse

Redskins got SHUT OUT last night, and the Post's headline was "Redskins Look at Bright Side". Puleease! Obviously, Redskins fans and the Post don't even care about championships---they will continue to adore their team no matter what.

On the question of which to prefer, RichC: 5 years of being competitive or 1 year of winning the Cup, that's a good one. After 5 years of being competitive I'd be hopeful of a Cup in the near future, and at least I'd enjoy watching great seasons. One year of a Cup and (I assume) not being competitive before or after, well, you think it's frustrating now--what about when you know you had a team that won the Cup and now couldn't even be competitive? No thanks.

On a somewhat related note, my mom was a die-hard Chicago White Sox fan for all of her married life (over 50 years.) She died in the summer of 2004, the season before the White Sox finally won the World Series, having not won that since 1917. I wish she and my dad could have lived to see that World Series. But she never gave up on the Sox, and she loved to gripe about the owners and the managers -- kind of like what Caps fans do on this page. It's all good.

Posted by: dccitizen1 | August 14, 2009 7:57 AM | Report abuse

It's funny to read comments from people who say that since this is Theo's contract year he'll rebound. Not sure what a guy has to do to prove that he fundamentally sucks and has lost his skills.

Prediction. He'll start as #1 one, have a few real stinkers and lose us some games, and end up where he was during last season's playoffs. On the bench.

Varlamov is a far superior goalie at this point. It's as simple as that.

I only wish Theo along with Nylander could play for the same team this season. Let's call it Not-Washington Not-Capitals.

Posted by: ranndino | August 17, 2009 1:50 AM | Report abuse

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