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Theo: 'I Don't See Myself as a Backup'


(Jahi Chikwendiu -- The Washington Post)


A few minutes after Bruce Boudreau named him the Caps' No. 1 goalie entering training camp, Jose Theodore didn't sound shocked when his coach's comments were relayed to him, despite being replaced in net by rookie Semyon Varlamov one game into last spring's playoffs.

"Like I said last year at the end of the playoffs, now there's no doubt that Varly and [Michal] Neuvirth are the goalies of the future. They are great goalies," Theodore said at KCI, where he faced shots from Jeff Halpern, Stephen Werner and others. "But for myself, if you look at the season, out of 82 games I still played [57] and had a pretty good record and was pretty consistent toward the end."

"I don't see myself as a backup," he added. "My frame of mind was to enter the summer, my off-ice training and the season as the No. 1 guy. [Whether] or not that was the case, that was going to be my approach. We all know in hockey, No. 1 is only a title. It's still on the ice that you have to earn your points."

For the first time in in three years, Theodore is back on the ice in early August, free of injury and distractions. That, he hopes, will help him get off to a better start than last season.

"I'm never going to make excuses," he said of his early-season struggles. "I should have been ready right off the bat. But it took me a few months to get going. This year I do feel comfortable, knowing the guys and the system.

"This year I got back kind of early," he added. "It's always fun to get back on the ice. Last year it was later because of the trade. I had to take care of some business in Denver with the house and the new house here. There was so much things to do. And the year before, I wanted to skate early but that was when I kind of busted my knee and needed surgery so couldn't really do it. But this summer, everything was good and I wanted to get back on the ice as soon as possible."

Although more than three months have passed since he was yanked, the playoff benching stings. It's also been a motivating factor.

"Yes, in the season I was the No. 1 guy," he said. "But the fun time of the year is in the playoff and I didn't play. So I still keep that in the back of my mind to work extra hard."

Theodore, who will turn 33 next month, has another reason to play well this season. This will be the final year of his two-year, $9 million contract with the Caps.

"You don't play for contract; you don't play for money," he said. "But at the end of the day it's still there, you're still aware that it's the last year of your contract. I won't approach it different than last year, even if I had signed a four-year deal. But the fact it is the last year of the contract and you want to show the team what you can do, and I'm happy here. When you play to a really high level, you give the team no choice but to keep you. That's my goal; to play to the highest level that I can."

And he'll need to play that way if he wants to hold off Varlamov and Neuvirth and set himself up for a starter's salary next year, whether that's in Washington or elsewhere.

"There's always someone right behind you," Theodore said. "It's been like that. Pressure-wise, I have no problem with it. [Brent Johnson] was there and I knew he was a great goalie and that he was going to push me if I didn't play well. Now there are so many good goalies; if you don't play up to your No. 1 [status], there is another guy. It's like that everywhere. ... For myself, every time I did play up to my level, I ended up the No. 1. So I want to start off solid and build on that."

Theodore has not met Arturs Irbe yet, he said, but has plenty of respect for his new goalie coach from watching him as a player. Irbe split time with Kevin Weekes in 2002 when the Hurricanes eliminated Theodore's Canadiens in the conference semifinals.

"I know from playing against him that he's really competitive and works really hard," Theodore said of Irbe, the team's new goalie coach. "For young guys and a guy like me, I like to work hard and have a coach that is going to push you with drills after practice."

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  August 13, 2009; 1:42 PM ET
 
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Next: Catching Up With Boyd Gordon

Comments

Good luck, sir, and I hope your contract year can motivate you to play more like your former trophy-accruing self.

Posted by: SmallZ827 | August 13, 2009 1:56 PM | Report abuse

If Theo says he's ready to go, then I will choose to believe him. No sense in getting in a fit until he proves otherwise (this coming season, that is).

Posted by: Fro_ | August 13, 2009 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Wow, Tarik! Thanks for all the scoop! It almost feels like the season has started!! :-)

Posted by: Boo- | August 13, 2009 2:05 PM | Report abuse

He's saying the right things. Best case scenario for the Caps is to have two (or three) goalies on top of their game andcompeting their butts off.

Posted by: SombreroGuy | August 13, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Reading or listening to anything 3orMore says just nauseates me. He once was a pretty good goalie and now he's a hack. He'll work a little harder this year b/c of the contract ending, but I wouldn't trust him as far as I can throw him.

Posted by: cookingkman | August 13, 2009 2:11 PM | Report abuse

"You don't play for contract; you don't play for money,"

thats funny, then its just a coincidence that you have your best years in the last year of your contract...lets hope that trend continues.

question, which starter is going to be on a shorter leash, theo or jason campbell?

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | August 13, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Let the Theo replacing Campbell rumors begin ... just tell Snyder Theo was a Grey Cup winner or something

Posted by: flee001 | August 13, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Who does Jason Campbell play goal for?

And Jose sucked at the end of the season, but he did get 33 wins. Give him a chance at least.

Posted by: thiazzi | August 13, 2009 2:28 PM | Report abuse

the last grey cup winning QB the skins had worked out pretty well.

both theo and campbell are in the last years of their contracts....

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | August 13, 2009 2:33 PM | Report abuse

the fact that the Caps were a top 5 NHL team with a high GAA should scare people. You will be under the microscope, which Theo is.

I think we all know Theo can play well..it's the ability to not give up very few soft one's that will define his season...Soft goals bring down the players and the fans...and we cant have them this year...

In my opinion, Varley will give up a soft goal a game this year, but will steal 3 goals away as well...

Posted by: SA-Town | August 13, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Whoever starts in goal is going to have to be solid out of the chute. Our early season schedule is pretty rough.

Posted by: thiazzi | August 13, 2009 2:40 PM | Report abuse

in a perfect scenario, theo starts and does very well. varly plays enought to get himself comfortable and show that last seasons playoffs werent a fluke. theo gets moved at the deadline or before to a team in need of a rental goalie.

thiazzi, i'm going to try, TRY, not to care too much about the early season games. i really hope they dont run away with it this year. i want them to be playing their best going into the playoffs...

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | August 13, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

@dcsportsfan

I agree...I dont want them to run away with it either...it seems like the way to win the cup is to suck to all high hell for 70% of the season...then turn it on like a light switch...

Posted by: SA-Town | August 13, 2009 3:06 PM | Report abuse

In case anyone is interested, Artyukin got moved to the Ducks.

http://tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=287608

Posted by: Fro_ | August 13, 2009 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Tampa is so spastic it's not even funny.

Ducks trade for a goon? Shocker.

Posted by: thiazzi | August 13, 2009 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Wow, Tarik! Thanks for all the scoop! It almost feels like the season has started!! :-)

Posted by: Boo- | August 13, 2009 2:05 PM
-------------------------
Boo, Tarik has figured out that hanging out in the chilly confines of KCI beats dealing with the Washington heat wave.

Posted by: tess2201 | August 13, 2009 4:34 PM | Report abuse

@ Boo: I was about to say...there were four (4) posts today! Got all excited. =)

Posted by: LeftCoastCapsFan | August 13, 2009 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Well here's my bold prediction: Varlamov gets 35 starts 22 wins, 8 losses, 5 OT/SO losses, and a few weeks on the DL; Theo gets 40 starts 20 wins, 15 losses, 5 OT/SO losses (yes I know that doesn't add up to 40, I figure on him getting pulled several times); Neuvirth with 7 starts 5 wins and 2 losses. Maybe Neuvy proves himself enough that McPhee can find a taker for Theo at the trade deadline, which clears enough cap space to make a deal for a decent defenseman. Hamhuis of Nashville is gonna be a UFA next summer. He'd look good in red, white and blue

Posted by: tempusfugitrgv | August 13, 2009 4:53 PM | Report abuse

OK my mental addition is terrible today. What I put for Theo does add up to 40. Still, I figure those numbers for Theo should be more or less indicative of his final numbers

Posted by: tempusfugitrgv | August 13, 2009 4:55 PM | Report abuse

@Freakin - I hear your criticism and I'm not saying that some of it isn't valid. What I will say is that this team isn't far away from putting it all together so I don't think we need to get that big trade or UFA to make this happen. If what GMGM says is true it would've taken Alzner, another player and a 1st round pick to get Pronger. I'm with GMGM in that it was too expensive especially knowing Pothier was coming back. Remember GMGM said that he didn't see anything out there that was better than Clark and Pothier at the deadline. I tend to agree especially knowing it didn't cost us anything.

As far as the state of both teams I'll ask you this, of both teams who would rather have their former owner's back? Under Abe the Caps NEVER had a team that was ever considered a contender and I think it's safe to say we're in that category now. Under Cooke, the Skins won 3 titles and did it through the draft and a few trades. They weren't interested in winning the off season award.

Posted by: pokerfaceI208 | August 13, 2009 5:02 PM | Report abuse

To the point of our D being the most glaring weakness and it not being addressed I respectfully disagree. We had holes with the departure of Feds and Koz and they were replaced with better "all around players". BMo and Knuble are better offensively as well as defensively so it does help to address the D. It also helps in the PK area which was our #2 glaring weakness. We have changed our D coach which was responsible for both the D and PK units and in my mind it's a big upgrade for many reasons. We'll now see if the lapses in D and PK are a matter of skill or philosophy and coaching. Lastly we have 2-3 NHL caliber ready Dmen that don't cost us a thing. Each of them bring a different skillset to the table. Alzner more of a positional type of player with Finley being the physical hard hitting presence and Carlson being a little of both. So the answers may already be here.

To your point I would say that if after this upcoming season we're still hearing the "we don't want to lose our assets" then it's time for sharper criticism. Right now we are progressing and in the right direction. I honestly think we'll be competing for the East and the President's trophy with what we already have. That in turn makes us a Cup contender which is a good place to be.

Does anybody in their right mind consider the Skins a Super Bowl contender?

Posted by: pokerfaceI208 | August 13, 2009 5:09 PM | Report abuse

tess2201:
I thought everyone knew that?!? ;-)

LeftCoastCapsFan:
Yes ... he shouldn't spoil us like that!! :-)

Posted by: Boo- | August 13, 2009 5:19 PM | Report abuse

Oops with my last post--It wasn't Neuwirth they wanted but Varlamov as well as Carlson and Alzner in order to get Pronger. I am even happier that we passed on that trade whatever our D-men needs are!

Posted by: newbiecapsfan07 | August 13, 2009 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Uh-huh, right. Odds that Theo finishes year on another team and/or a back up by the end of the year? 3 to 2.

I hope Theo plays out of his head, I really do. He's just too streaky to be a reliable daily starter. He was god-awful at various points in the year.

Posted by: oldtimehockey | August 13, 2009 5:43 PM | Report abuse

Oldtime - couldn't agree more. I saw him a lot here in Colorado and he had the name "The odor" because he stunk so bad. He points to having 33 wins well lets be honest, most NHL caliber goalies could get 33 wins with this team. He has a pattern for about the past 3 seasons now of having a horrible 1st 1/2 and a decent 2nd 1/2. The last year he was here in Colorado he stole the 1st round series against Dallas and then laid an egg against Detroit and got swept. Bottom line, you can't win a Cup with that type of goaltending unless you have the crystal ball to see when he's on and when he isn't.

Posted by: pokerfaceI208 | August 13, 2009 5:49 PM | Report abuse

@ pokerface: I absolutely appreciate the thoroughness and logic that goes into your posts. Things make sense when you write it. I don't have panic attacks and feel like the Capitals actually have a decent chance of doing great things this year.

Keep on postin'! =)

Posted by: LeftCoastCapsFan | August 13, 2009 5:53 PM | Report abuse

@ Boo: I'm almost afraid that Tarik and Crew might disappoint us tomorrow and have zippo to report. *sigh*

Posted by: LeftCoastCapsFan | August 13, 2009 5:55 PM | Report abuse

bad move Gabby. seriously, this guy let his team down when they needed him the most, playoff time. he does not deserve to have anything handed to him going into camp. neither does Varly for that matter, it should be an open competition. ridiculous. i can envision us getting off to a slow start again. ugh.

Posted by: DER27 | August 13, 2009 6:30 PM | Report abuse

@pokerfacel208

I never suggested the Pronger trade was the right way to go. From what I recall the actual trade demand was Alzner or Carlson, Varly, a roster player and 1st rounder. If it had just been Alzner a draft pick (or two) and a roster player I probably make that trade depending on who the roster player is. If that roster player is anyone but the big four and perhaps Laich I would make that trade. Put Pronger on the back line this past playoffs (apparently the same request was made at the deadline) and the playoffs may have turned out differently. That would be the type of gutsy move the GMGM doesn't make and has never made, it just isn't his style.

As for Pothier coming back. You are in the position to make a Cup run and you recognize the defense is weak and you are going to rely on a defensemen who has been injured for over a year with a concussion and had his best days in Ottawa while he was a third pair defensemen. That is my point, Pothier is a good NHL defensemen and would be great for a third pair and sufficient for the second pair, but they have put him in a position to have to do to much.

The Abe vs. Cooke debate is open and shut for me and you can put Abe vs. Leonsis; Abe vs. Al Davis; Abe v. Snyder and I would take anyone over Abe Pollin everyday of the week. I have "hated" that man as an owner the day he let Scott Stevens walk for the $1 million dollar contract. The irony of it all is that The Caps actually made the Stanley Cup Final under his stewardship.

Posted by: freakinandpeakin | August 13, 2009 6:31 PM | Report abuse

@pokerface

First to address the departure of Koz and Feds. Yes, they needed to be replaced, but lets be realistic as to what they brought to the on ice production (Feds off ice was way more valuable). The two players combined for 24 goals and 50 assists. 24 goals from two of your top six forwards...that is a huge under production and offensively the team still survived.

I don't disagree that B-Mo and Knuble are better...they honestly couldn't be much worse from an offensive production standpoint.

As for Bob Woods becoming coach. I'm willing to accept that they feel he is an upgrade over Leach, at the same time concede the fact that he has never coached a day in the NHL and he could flame out. He is a unknown. I can't and won't criticize the move, but to think that an assistant coach is going to make that much of a difference for these players is going out on a huge limb. Mike Green was coached by Leach and he excelled. Point being, I think the d-men we have are at the max of their ability and a new assistant coach isn't going to change that. The mistakes and lapses we see from many of the d-men aren't coaching mistakes, but are dictated by the cap on the players ability...case in point, Jeff Schultz is slow and no amount of coaching is going to change that.

I'll give you the prospects of Alzner and Carlson and will look forward to their development. But there is the key. They need to develop and this team is in their championship open window and putting your hopes on two young defensemen who have a combined total of 30 NHL games to guide you through an NHL season and playoffs in the next three years is a recipe for disaster for a Cup contending team. The team is no longer just striving for the playoffs, this isn't 2005 where the team can develop that way anymore. As for Finley, well your just plain wrong. By all accounts he is slow footed to the point that during development camp they basically played him as a forward during the scrimmages. So don't put Finley in that crop of NHL ready defensemen.

Lastly, I guess I will be here after the season with at least you upset when we continue to hear "we don't want to lose our assets", because we've been hearing it for 4 years now and GMGM's trade history dictates that he won't make that big bold move, he doesn't do that.

Posted by: freakinandpeakin | August 13, 2009 6:56 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and if I'm wrong I'll gladly be hear and say I was wrong.

Posted by: freakinandpeakin | August 13, 2009 7:00 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, freakin', verbally abusing and criticizing someone I love isn't exactly passion. * * * But the second they trade Semin, yeah, I'll be up in arms and show my "passion" for the team. * * *
Posted by: LeftCoastCapsFan | August 13, 2009 4:25 PM | Report abuse

Love?!?!? Don't confuse love with fandom, they are very very different things and I'm concerned for you that you would even associate the two. I am a diehard fan of the Caps and love my family. If I had to make a choice between the Caps and my family, my family would win every day of the week. I have a passion for hockey, but I love my family and I treat the two very differently.

Second, and more importantly, you are being absolutely hypocritical. It is okay for you to get up in arms if they trade Semin, but I can't get up in arms when the team fails to take action that I think it should. The only difference is act versus failure to act. If that is how I have to couch it then I am up in arms that the team acquired two forwards during free agency instead of on defensemen.

Posted by: freakinandpeakin | August 13, 2009 7:19 PM | Report abuse

I am caught unawares that to be a passionate fan and I had to find fault in what the team does. I think I'm grounded in the sense that whatever I find fault with isn't going to be changed whatsoever by publicly exhibiting my displeasure on a message board. If you can help change it, go for it. If you can't, then accept it and move on.

Posted by: LeftCoastCapsFan | August 13, 2009 7:26 PM | Report abuse

It would be sweet to have three great goalies. I hope Theo lives up to his quotes. It appears we're going to need a lot of skill and determination in the net again this year, since we have either rookies or dead weight again on D for 09/10.

Posted by: ejohnsto | August 13, 2009 7:42 PM | Report abuse

No, to be passionate doesn't mean you must find something to be critical of, but the hypocricy is that you cited something that would make you critical. But you cited something that would make you be critical and I have something that makes me critical.

As for expressing displeasure, it is your choice to not express displeasure with management. I have just as much right to express displeasure. I would just say if everyone sits quietly, smiles and thanks the team for losing in the second round then nothing will change to make the team better.

Posted by: freakinandpeakin | August 13, 2009 8:38 PM | Report abuse

For those that have not seen the Russian Olympic camp roster.


RUSSIA
Goal: Ilya Bryzgalov (Phoenix/N.H.L.), Semyon Varlamov (Washington/N.H.L.), Alexander Yeremenko (Salavat Yulaev), Yevgeny Nabokov (San Jose/N.H.L.).
Defense: Vitaly Atyushov (Metallurg Mg), Vitaly Vishnevsky (Lokomotiv), Anton Volchenko (Ottawa/N.H.L.), Sergei Gonchar (Pittsburgh/N.H.L.), Denis Grebeshkov (Edmonton/N.H.L.), Alexei Zhitnik (Dinamo Moscow), Sergei Zubov (SKA), Dmitri Kalinin, Maxim Kondratiev, Vitali Proshkin, Oleg Tverdovsky (all Salavat Yulaev), Konstantin Korneev (CSKA), Andrei Markov (Montreal/N.H.L.), Ilya Nikulin (Ak Bars) and Fyodor Tyutin (Columbus/N.H.L.).
Forward: Yevgeni Artyukhin (Tampa Bay/N.H.L.), Maxim Afinogenov (Buffalo/N.H.L.), Konstantin Gorovikov (SKA), Pavel Datsyuk (Detroit/N.H.L.), Danis Zaripov, Alexei Morozov, Alexei Tereshchenko (all Ak Bars), Sergei Zinoviev, Viktor Kozlov, Alexander Radulov (all Salavat Yulaev), Alexei Kovalev (Ottawa/N.H.L.), Ilya Kovalchuk (Atlanta/N.H.L.), Nikolai Kulemin (Toronto/N.H.L.), Evgeni Malkin (Pittsburgh/N.H.L.), Alexander Ovechkin, Alexander Semin (both Washington/N.H.L.), Oleg Saprykin (Dinamo Moscow), Sergei Fedorov (Metallurg Mg) and Alexander Frolov (Los Angeles/N.H.L.).

Posted by: RichC3 | August 13, 2009 11:07 PM | Report abuse

I think we all know Varly won't see any ice time in Vancouver but it is nice to see him on the international radar.

Posted by: BernieWolfeFan | August 13, 2009 11:35 PM | Report abuse

Freakin- I think that you are wrong in your assessment of GMGM and here's why. When Ted acquired the team they were a successful team but mainly due to a few lucky bounces and the team gelling really well at the right time. GMGM pulled off the biggest trade in franchise history for one of the greatest if not the greatest player in the game at the time. We can all argue about Jagr's work ethic etc but to your point, he made the deal. Ted furthermore signed him to the biggest contract in Caps history at the time. The makeup of that team at that time was strong on D, strong in net, strong in 2 way forwards but we needed more goal scoring and it was addressed. Then of course we found out that the makeup of the team lacked a lot of heart and decided to blow it up to build what we have today.

Now the makeup of the team is way different, even since June 30th it's different. The biggest difference is that the problem area now is the D and the biggest issue here is that the answer may be WITHIN the organization already. We've never been in the situation we're in now in that we have so many assets. Why trade them if you don't have to?

So when you say that GMGM won't pull the trigger on the BIG deal, the statement is dead wrong and inaccurate due to history. He will pull the trigger IF it makes sense and we both agree the Pronger deal didn't make sense.

Posted by: pokerfaceI208 | August 13, 2009 11:55 PM | Report abuse

@leftcoast - thanks buddy. I tend to see things right on with the course the team is heading in. I think GMGM would love to make a deal for a Pronger type of player but it just isn't there. He never got a crack at JayBo and who knows that may be a good thing. GMGM is spot on when he says that UFA contracts rarely work out. I really believe in this team and I do think that adding 2 better scoring forwards with a better defensive mindset, changing the D and PK coach and bringing up Alzner and possibly Carlson will help the D out tremendously. Of course that means Schultz needs to see more like 8-10 minutes per game instead of the 15+ he's been seeing. I also think it's too soon to throw the towel in on the guy since he's so young.

Posted by: pokerfaceI208 | August 14, 2009 12:05 AM | Report abuse

Pokerface1208 and LeftCoast, I agree with you. But I also think it's really okay for freakin' to rail against what he thinks is wrong with the team. It's summer, and I assume that the trolls are off this board, so it's okay for fans to criticize and others to disagree with the criticism. Think how boring this board would be with all hearts and flowers on it.

In my earlier post on the first Tarik report today, I mentioned that my mom railed against the White Sox every summer. But she never stopped watching and never stopped cheering for them. Now, it would be a different situation if people yelled at their kids' sport's teams like this, but this is the luxury we have in pro sports while paying for tickets or cable or whatever to support the team.

Posted by: dccitizen1 | August 14, 2009 8:11 AM | Report abuse

OMG, 3-or-more can't see himself as a backup, well well is that right. Strange, I can see him very clearly in-net as a back-up either here or on another team if his contract was expired in DC. Wasn't he a "back-up" for most (if not all) of the Playoff games last year? When the team needed him most he was on his A**, what an A**, good luck little guitar playing 3-or-more dude because "You Suck". I hope Simeon Varlamov is ready because I got a feeling he is going to be in-net a lot more than everyone thinks.

Posted by: BlueDeuce | August 14, 2009 8:38 AM | Report abuse

great back and forth on these boards. everyone getting in mid season form. unfortunately its still 6 weeks until someone can say "see i told you so".

freakin, all i can say about your last post is i dont think anyone is sitting around being satisfied with a second round loss. i think folks are happy with the progress the team is making and know that the best years should be ahead for this team. sure there are holes to be filled, there always will be. but the roster is far from being finalized. the team has too many dmen and some prospects who many never crack this lineup. we're up against the cap and then there is the nylander elephant in the locker room. lets see what happens between now and october.

my personal opinion is this team needs to be in the cup finals to have had a successful year. they cant keep limping into the playoffs and going down 1-3 in playoff series.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | August 14, 2009 8:41 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, we need to have at least one series where we just dominate. I'd be thrilled.

Posted by: thiazzi | August 14, 2009 10:09 AM | Report abuse

Personally I enjoy the back and forth between posters. That is as long as people are civil. I look forward to reading this board every morning with my coffee and it's only now in the dog days of summer that I feel safe to write. Sometimes this board can be rough but at least the trolls are missing. I'm sitting watching my son play a scrimmage during his hockey camp and I'm thinking what a great sport--from these enthusiastic kids to our young guns the Caps. So keep on opining. And hopefully Tarik will give us another post. I so enjoyed yesterdays!

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | August 14, 2009 10:20 AM | Report abuse

"Good things come to those who wait".

I don't think the Capitals or any other NHL team has ties to an AHL team for no point and purpose. It's to groom players, right? Why ignore that and insist on finding someone outside of the organization? I can't grasp that concept of not just waiting for players to mature and grow into their positions on the team.

Sadly, the sarcasm in my comment about going up in arms if they traded Semin wasn't picked up. *shrug* Again, something in a long list of things that the Capitals will say or do that (wait for it) I don't have control over. It's a reality that I've come to terms with. I have other more important things to stress out about. Gimme a game to watch and an Avery or a Crosby to see get smashed into the boards please!

Posted by: LeftCoastCapsFan | August 14, 2009 10:27 AM | Report abuse

@ Boo (when you come on board): See? What'd I tell ya'? We got four articles yesterday and this morning? Nothin'. =/

*stares at 2009 Capitals calendar with Brooks Laich for the month of August*

October can't come soon enough....

Posted by: LeftCoastCapsFan | August 14, 2009 10:31 AM | Report abuse

This is just public relations and making sure that the young guys realize they'll have to earn their spots. And maybe, MAYBE if we're lucky Theo will be tradeable again at some point and clear up major cap space right as Varly is showing that its time to sweep Theo out the door. That would be pretty sweet come trade deadline but it may just be a pipe dream because anyone taking Theo is doing us a favor and therefor it will have to be incentivized. Maybe buy the end of the season or if someone's goalie gets hurt and they have major cap space. Who knows, no one could possibly win in the playoffs with Theo though and he's only getting worse. Its funny how they spoke of Huet getting so hot down the stretch, they barely let Varly play at all, so he didn't have any time to get hot down the stretch. It was just that Theo inspired so little confidence that anything was better. Granted Varly looked good in his chances, but they were extraordinarily limited. Varly earned his stay in net once he got in, but mostly Theo earned his eviction. It sure would be nice to have him and his giant salary disappear.

Posted by: ParticipatoryDemocracyNow | August 14, 2009 10:32 AM | Report abuse

I guess I'm not quick to kick Theo out the door. I remember some of the regular season games that I watched on tv or at Verizon and the one game I caught when they visited Anaheim, he helped us win a few so I can't be too disappointed with his performance. He has every right to defend his role as #1 goalie. Let's try not knocking him for it. I'd love to see what you guys say if your own job was in jeopardy and there were others who were eyeing your corner office.

Best of luck, Theo. Prove your critics wrong!

Posted by: LeftCoastCapsFan | August 14, 2009 11:42 AM | Report abuse

The Bears just signed Brandon Sugden, he is an enforcer who will get an invite to Caps training camp. I have never heard of this guy but I figure having him for flyers games is fine with me.

Source:
http://hockeyfights.com/

Posted by: caps512 | August 14, 2009 11:48 AM | Report abuse

freakin must be taking lessons from cstanton.

Posted by: richmondphil | August 14, 2009 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Varlamov crumbled worse than Theo did. Remember that.

yeah, he carried us through 2 rounds, but that game 7 was entirely on Varlamov's shoulders.

Theo is not going anywhere this season.

Posted by: richmondphil | August 14, 2009 12:14 PM | Report abuse

phil its not fair to blame game 7 on Varly, the entire team sucked that night. Did he collapse yes, but he was better than theo for those 13 games he played.

Posted by: caps512 | August 14, 2009 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Um..of course he was better than Theo. Theo did not play....
And, no, we lost game 7 because of Varlamov. There is no other way to put it. I love the kid and expect great things from him, but you dont let in 4 easy goals past your crappy glove hand. The same crappy glove hand we saw sometimes in the regular season.


I think you are missing my point, though.

Posted by: richmondphil | August 14, 2009 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Well put me in the boat for thinking that Theo won't be with us come playoff time. There WILL be a team out there looking to pick up an experienced goalie with an expiring contract for their playoff push. Sorry Richmond but the players don't have confidence in Theo so how can management? I'm not of the mindset that Varly is ready for an 82 game season yet plus playoffs so I'm with you in that I think Theo will stick around for a bit but come trade deadline time, he's a goner unless we run into the injury bug.

Game 7 is not purely on Varly either. The whole team didn't show up and they all admitted as so. Sad to say but they were gassed. Not exactly how that happens for a game 7 at home but it did. I guess it's part of the maturation process kids go through.

Posted by: pokerfaceI208 | August 14, 2009 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Poker, you know the players personally? Damn, I wish I did.

Nylander was also said to be a "goner" at the deadline last year. Oh..hey Micheal..didn't see you there.

Game 7 was Varlamov's fault. His glove hand sucked.

Posted by: richmondphil | August 14, 2009 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Here's the hilarious part.

If Theo was in net game 7, second round, and did the exact same thing Varlamov did (let in 4 crappy goals right through your glove hand), all of your responses would be different. I don't give selected criticism, sorry. Varlamov's glove sucked. Plain and simple.

Posted by: richmondphil | August 14, 2009 1:22 PM | Report abuse

By the way, I just had 5 teeth pulled. So if I seem a bit irritable or snappy, I apologize.

Posted by: richmondphil | August 14, 2009 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Sorry about the teeth but no I don't know them personally. Go back and read all the articles etc and every player to a man said they didn't show up. If it was all on Varly then he would have been yanked quick. Sorry but we'll have to agree to disagree on that front. Regardless if Theo started the game we would have lost too unless he happened to have that 1 good game that he has every once in a blue moon.

Posted by: pokerfaceI208 | August 14, 2009 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Phil:
"Varlamov crumbled worse than Theo did. Remember that. yeah, he carried us through 2 rounds, but that game 7 was entirely on Varlamov's shoulders."

Are you serious?!? Were you at that game? The entire team fell apart. Sure, Varlamov was less than stellar, but 20 guys lost that game, not one.

Posted by: Boo- | August 14, 2009 1:33 PM | Report abuse

They admitted it because they didn't want to let Varlamov take all the blame. Players say a lot of things they dont necessarily mean.

I don't see how anyone sees it any other way. All 4 of those goals he should have stopped. Period. And the thing is, we ALL knew his glove hand was weak. We saw it in the regular season. Why do you think the Pens shot at his glove side?

Yeah, the whole team stunk it up, but we lost because of Varlamov. When you let in 4 goals like that, you suck the heart out of your team. People always want to talk about the team not trusting Theo...well how do you REALLY think they felt after the 1st period?

If Varlamov and Theo perform well enough in the regular season so Theo gets traded at the deadline, I won't be against it. Would be the best cause scenario. I don't know how plausible that is though.

Posted by: richmondphil | August 14, 2009 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Our goalie let in 4 EASY goals in the 1st period of a game 7.


Yeah, the team lost the game, but it started and ended with Varlamov laying the biggest egg ever. Bigger than Bryzgalov's rookie year, second round egg.

Posted by: richmondphil | August 14, 2009 1:35 PM | Report abuse

I think I will align myself with Kitty.

I think that unless JT60 lays an egg in preseason he will be the starter. I also think that he will get the majority of the starts. Now if SV40 becomes a world beater in the starts he does get, then JT60 will get traded at the deadline if GMGM thinks it will help us.

Many people feel that we have a bunch of NHL caliber defensemen. Since we are flirting with the salary cap, I think that GMGM will probably move someone with the exception of Green before the season begins. We then wait for the trade deadline and see how the season plays out. If we need a Dman then I think GMGM will weigh his options and do what he thinks is in our best interests.

MN92 is a little long in the tooth, but was he really healthy last year. If he were to regain the form he had prior to the shoulder problem he could be very valuable. I hope that he regains his prior form. IF (and I emphasize if) he can play at a high caliber then we will be in a very good position. Maybe we don't have to move him, or because he is playing well we can get something in return. If he is sitting in the press box we won't get anything (and that is also a possibility).

Good thing is the preseason is getting closer everyday. I guess once they start playing the games all our questions will be answered.

Posted by: fatboy08 | August 14, 2009 1:41 PM | Report abuse

LeftCoastCapsFan:
No worries - more will come soon enough. We are SO lucky to get what we do ... we should be thankful for that. More importantly you'll be rockin' the red before ya know it! :-)

Capsyoungguns:
Please don't ever hesitate to post - we ALL don't know as much as we'd like to think! :-) Everyone is welcome and trolls can be ignored. There is nothing wrong with a good debate but when people are disrespectful, well then that's when they are classified as honorary trolls (and, therefore, can be ignored). ;-)

Rich:
BAH!!! (With all due respect ... ;-))

Posted by: Boo- | August 14, 2009 1:43 PM | Report abuse

I mean really. Let's strip it down to the bare bones. Put any goalie in that situation. Game 7....letting in 4 easy goals in the 1st period...


Like I said, I am very, very fond of Varlamov myself, and see him as the guy who is going to bring us our first cup. But, he better work on that glove hand.

Posted by: richmondphil | August 14, 2009 1:46 PM | Report abuse

I called Semyon the next Hasek last year. I don't retract that statement at all. But, I'm not going to just brush off his game 7 performance.

Just like I don't brush off Theo's game 1 round 1 performance.

Posted by: richmondphil | August 14, 2009 1:49 PM | Report abuse

lot of "I, I, me, me" stuff going on in here.

Posted by: thiazzi | August 14, 2009 1:56 PM | Report abuse

The Hockey News' pre-season rankings are coming out in two stages. The bottom (7-15) in both East and West.

http://www.thehockeynews.com/articles/27434-The-Hockey-News-200910-NHL-regular-season-predictions-No-7.html

No real surprises here.

Posted by: Greg S. | August 14, 2009 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Hey thiazzi, have you tried the u+ ?

Was at my dad's and messed with it a bit. I don't like it. it feels flimsy. I miss the vector line...

Posted by: richmondphil | August 14, 2009 2:05 PM | Report abuse

@LeftCoast, of course that is the purpose of the AHL team, but you presume that the players in the system have the talent level to become NHLers. In the entire AHL system of the Caps there are two players right now that could develop into top 3 defensemen and they are Carlson and Alzner. Players like Collins and Sloan are nice fill-ins, but will never be top 4 defensemen, which is what this team soarly lacks.

You want to let Alzner and Carlson potentially fill that role. Lets presume they do. That pushes us down the road 3 or 4 seasons for them really being at the tops of their games and 3 or 4 years into a presumed open window of being a championship caliber team. Are you confident enough to allow three or four years of that open window go by with the current defense? I personally don't think the team can win a Stanley Cup in the next three or four years with the current construction of the defensive core, or with the only changes being Carlson and/or Alzner added to the line-up.

When you have an open window you have to take your shot and can't wait for players to develop. This is a very physical sport and you never know what will happen to the players on your roster. What if those players you are waiting to mature don't develop as expected, e.g. Sami Lepisto. What if there is a freak injury, e.g. Pat Peake. What if there is a not so freak injury? If you have an opportunity now you take it. That wait and let them mature approach is perfect for teams like the Caps of 2004-2005, or the Islanders or Lightning of this season. But you can't take that approach, in my opinion, when a team is ready to win now. Cause all you are doing is squandering opportunity on an unknown future.

Posted by: freakinandpeakin | August 14, 2009 2:07 PM | Report abuse

theo or not to theo? who knows? who knows what theo knows? who knows what theo grows when he knows? all i do know is theo blows if he knows or doesn't knows.

Posted by: pokerfaceI208 | August 14, 2009 2:07 PM | Report abuse

@richmondphil

I've never used a CCM composite! Right now I have a pair of Mission sticks (a Pulse 2 and a Concept X) for the stiffness and barely-curved Boyes blade pattern. I also have a Zetterberg-patterned Easton, but it's like a wet noodle. I need a really stiff flex because I'm a big dude.

Posted by: thiazzi | August 14, 2009 2:12 PM | Report abuse

GMGM going through our system is a reflection of his and ted's admitted mistakes after we lost in the first round to Tampa that one year. They very candidly said, "We tried to make it by signing big -name players, and it did not work."

We barely squeaked into the playoffs 2 years ago, and our window is now for some reason? I don't see why.

Posted by: richmondphil | August 14, 2009 2:12 PM | Report abuse

@caps512

"The Bears just signed Brandon Sugden, he is an enforcer who will get an invite to Caps training camp. I have never heard of this guy but I figure having him for flyers games is fine with me."

Check out this link:

http://johnwaltonhockey.blogspot.com/2009/08/sugdens-road-brings-him-to-hershey.html

Posted by: tess2201 | August 14, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse

I was a fan of the vector line.

I use a Sakic curve though. Or I guess Hossa curve in mission talk.

Posted by: richmondphil | August 14, 2009 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Our window is now because we are a year or 2 ahead of schedule I bet (in GMGM/Teds mind). But to your point, it doesn't mean the window still isn't there a few years from now. Make no mistake, we are a contender NOW and it won't take much if anything else to get us to the promise land. In my mind this is the hardest part of a GM. I think it's easier to get to this point, it's even harder to get to the promise land and stay there. Look at Ottawa and Buffalo, they got there but for 1 yr only. Detroit has been there and stayed there, NJ did for a while as well. The goal for this Mgmt is to be a consistent contender and in my mind that's a harder accomplishment than just getting there once.

Posted by: pokerfaceI208 | August 14, 2009 2:18 PM | Report abuse

You guys also got to remember that skaters don't peak until around 28-32.

Our core is very young. I don't see why our window is now.

Posted by: richmondphil | August 14, 2009 2:18 PM | Report abuse

freakin, keep in mind that pots, mo and jurcina are UFA's at year end and poti is after two years. we are not stuck with those guys for 3-4 years. there will be opportunities to sign established guys at the end of this year, particularly if they can dump/buyout nylander. theo's big contract is done this year too. of course, they have to deal w/ semin and backs contracts too.

bottom line is that with the salary cap, you cant fill every hole you want to. you are going to have to hope that guys like alzner and carlson can contribute while on their entry deals and that we can make a trade or two to bolster the d line. in the end, this team will always be tilted towards offense. just like pittsburgh was last year.

honestly, if you looked at the pens d at the start of last year, would you have said they could win the cup with those guys?

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | August 14, 2009 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Pretty good hook on that Sakic curve. The flatter blade just helps me with shot control. My slapshot is troublesomely high without it, for example.

Posted by: thiazzi | August 14, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

ottawa was a top contender for a number of years.

I see what you are saying now though. I just think that GMGM is obviously being much more frugal in his decisions, since Jagr-era backfired on him.

Posted by: richmondphil | August 14, 2009 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Pretty good hook on that Sakic curve. The flatter blade just helps me with shot control. My slapshot is troublesomely high without it, for example.

Posted by: thiazzi | August 14, 2009 2:20 PM |

Yeah, I'm the opposite. There is no way I could use a Boyes/Crosby curve. Too flat for me.

Posted by: richmondphil | August 14, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

@tess2201

Thanks for the link. I agree with that article, we might quickly change our mind about not having an enforcer. I have never seen him fight. I wonder how he would do against the Brashes and laqures of the world.

Posted by: caps512 | August 14, 2009 2:44 PM | Report abuse

@tess2201

Thanks for the link. I agree with that article, we might quickly change our mind about not having an enforcer. I have never seen him fight. I wonder how he would do against the Brashes and laqures of the world.

Posted by: caps512 | August 14, 2009 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Phil:
I called you Rich in my last post ... HA!! Sorry about that! :-)

Posted by: Boo- | August 14, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

*opens umbrella for the impending falling sky*

Posted by: LeftCoastCapsFan | August 14, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Boo--thanks for the encouragement. I agree on the necessity of courtesy. My personal take on the goaltenders is that we are in a great and enviable position. They all had a 30 plus win season and Holtby if I remember correctly had at least 40 wins. BB likes to use competition and I think that he will make whoever is in that no. 1 goalie spot work to keep it and won't hesitate to switch someone out. Overall Theo helped get us into the playoffs and has years of NHL experience. Varly and Neuvy can learn much from him. Goalies seem to be like pitchers in baseball--they are sensitive creatures and even the best of them have off days and need to be pulled. Game 7--yeah that was tough and I think the moment got to him but he wasn't the only one who was feeling nerves so I don't think Varly should take all of the blame. He also played out of his mind in earlier games in that series, Afacing 40 or more shots. And I thought Theo was very classy in how he handled being displaced in the playoffs then having to come in at the end in a game that was essentially over.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | August 14, 2009 3:38 PM | Report abuse

I have a question about tweeter for the board, can we set up a page before training camp so anyone there can post during each practice? Most of us are at our desks during the day and can not get there. And that way we can follow from where we are. I prefer to plan ahead so we can have it all set up prior to camp starting in a couple of weeks. Help out someone that is not a tweeterer.er.er....what ever they are called. Thanks

Posted by: RichC3 | August 14, 2009 3:54 PM | Report abuse

@richmondphil: The window is open now, because that is the way things worked out. Perhaps they are "ahead of schedule" in Ted and GMGM's mind, but then you have to adapt to the changed circumstances. You can't say we are ahead of schedule, but we are going to stick to our plan we had developed figuring it would take 5 years to get to this point. If you get to the point in three years then modify your plan to take into account you are ahead of schedule.

As for your comment that GMGM is being frugal, that is who he has always been and always will be. The Jagr deal was Leonsis' idea, which GMGM didn't want to do. GMGM has never made any trade of great significance to this franchise since the Oates/Tocchet/Ranford for Allison/Carter/Carey trade in 1997. Just look at the players acquired during the GMGM era through trade and free agency and compare it to the work of David Poile. Any analysis will tell you that Poile outshines McPhee with acquisitions like Langway, Murphy, Ciccarelli, Johansson, Iafrate, Cote, Tinordi, Miller and Ridley. Sorry, but Jagr, Linden, Poti, Pothier, Knuble, and Nylander (two times) just don't match up.

@dcsportsfan: you're right the salary cap does prevent you from filling all your holes. I've said as much. But management is continually ignoring the teams weak spot while re-inforcing its strength. Everyone talks about letting the defensive players mature, why not let the young offensive players mature into the offensive roles taken by Knuble and B-Mo and use that money to bring in one top four defensemen? Those young offensive players would get to play with high end world class talent that could help them develop and any weaknesses they have could be covered up by the Ovechkin's and Semin's of the team. Instead, we bring in more veteran leadership on the front end and are waiting for Alzner and Carlson to develop and hoping that S-Mo, Jurcina, Pothier and Erskine are going to cover up those rookie mistakes. Sorry, but I don't trust them to do that as much as I trust our offensive talent to compensate for rookie errors.

Posted by: freakinandpeakin | August 14, 2009 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Capsyoungguns:
Amen my fine fellow Caps fan! I couldn't have said it better myself. (With posts like that, you really should post more often!! ;-)) I think the moment got to all of them, or that they all ran out of gas or something. It was just a train wreck from the very beginning. And if it was all on Varly then they would have rallied when Theo came out, but they didn't. It just wasn't meant to be.

Posted by: Boo- | August 14, 2009 4:03 PM | Report abuse

ok.,can we get back to talking about the caps!anyway,i think neuvy should have just as good a shot as any of 'em.i predict in the end he beats out varly for the #1 spot.me being a goalie and know what to look for i just see neuvy as an all around better goalie.hes not sloppy,has a great sence of where the puck is,doesnt look like a fish outta water(like theo).anyway it will be tough but whether its varly or neuvy, our future in goal looks pretty damn good!!GO CAPS!!!

Posted by: gratefuldid | August 14, 2009 4:11 PM | Report abuse

freakin, the reason they brought in knuble and morrison is that they had to. lost koz and feds and needed to fill the right wing and second line center position. plus, i think they come much cheaper than any of the dmen available. obviously they feel like the forwards in the minors arent ready and/or never will be. clearly they think gustaffson is a year or two away as is oskar. seems like bourque many never make it to the big club.

there was not the holes on d because non of their d men left. i think it's everyones expectations that one or more of the dmen gets moved before the season starts.

put it another way, the two glaring weaknesses on this team were a big rig wing to play w/ ovie and a veteran dman to clear the crease. then they lose feds creating another hole. by all accounts, the cost to fill the dman hole was pretty significant (if you went the FA route). however, the cost to fill the forward roles were realatively cheap and fit w/in the cap and didn't require giving away and assets.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | August 14, 2009 4:39 PM | Report abuse

freakin, also in regards to your comments on GM's trades. poile pulled off the big deals for sure. and i have heard the ted wanted jagr and not GM. but in listing GM's trades you are talking about guys he brought in via FA (w/ the exception of jagr and linden). his best deals are the guys he dumped and replaced them with. witt for varly, bondra for laich, linden for gordon, lang for flash and i think the pick that was green? could be wrong on that one. anyway, i think his strenght has been trading guys and getting value back.

his weakness has been getting anything of value in the later rounds of the draft for sure.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | August 14, 2009 4:48 PM | Report abuse

Isn't Knuble also to fill a hole as in someone who excells at going to the net to get rebounds and "dirty" goals. Also with both additions of Knuble and BM we mix up our offensive lines with European and North American styles. That seems like the NHL way, a blending of the two styles.
I loved Feds and didn't want to see him but I definitely thought part of his role was to nuture our young Europeans, especially our Russians--something I thought he did quite well. But we now need to crash the opponant's net more consistently and push Crosby and others off of ours. I think these signings do reflect the fact we have a window of opportunity now but without sacrificing our future windows--to mix a metaphors.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | August 14, 2009 5:51 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 14, 2009 7:18 PM | Report abuse

I just typed out a long response and it got lost. So without going through the details again...although I admit it was brilliant if I do say so myself.

Feds and Kozy grossly underperformed with a combined 24 goals for two top 6 forwards. If they had comeback you would not have said there was a hole to fill. I am suggesting filling those holes from within with Laich's 23 goals and with the $1.5 million FA signing of B-Mo. Those 24 goals are more than filled by those changes.

That creates $2.8 million of space that was spent on Knuble. Instead of offering all three d-men qualifying offers only offer one a qualifying offer, say Juice. That means the defense would be Green, Poti, Pothier, Erskine, Juice, Alzner and a free agent defensemen. That would be 7, right? Well add the approximately $2.7 that Mo and Schultz got and all of a suddent the Caps have $5.5 million to use to get a high end free agent defensemen. Heck you could bring back Schultz too and still have nearly $5 million to spend on a free agent defensemen.

GMGM messed up in his handling of this summer and his filling of roster holes by re-inforcing something that wasn't a weakness and ignoring the actual weakness. The signing of Knuble was good considering he went down that road, but that was the wrong road to go down.

Lastly, dcsportsfan, you are absolutely right that those trades were success for GMGM. But you conveniently ignore the Aulin for Carter trade and the Konowalchuk for Battaglia and Johansson trade that were made during the same season. All GM's will succeed and fail on certain trades. But just citing the success ignores some pretty big failures and skews a GM's actual record.

Posted by: freakinandpeakin | August 14, 2009 7:38 PM | Report abuse

Freakinandpeakin--I'm sorry you lost your brilliant answer but this posting is pretty interesting. I have a question for you and I'm really just curious. I got the idea that that there wasn't a lot of choice for a big name d-guy that we could afford. Using your numbers who do you think we should have gone after?
Personally I kinda expect a trade or two down the road and if I remember correctly the past trade opportunities were a little two pricey--one of our goalies and one of our young defensemen Alzner or Carlson. I only remember Bouwmeister (spelling?) and Pronger as the big names that were available but there is much I don't know and am still learning about defensemen.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | August 14, 2009 9:06 PM | Report abuse

We filled up the holes in top forwards relatively cheaply (Knuble and Morrison). We still have too many NHL caliber D-men of the okay but not great category.

For all the people so worried about Theodore's cap hit, this is the last year of his contract so this year's contarct doesn't mean squat for next year. I recall that since we couldn't get Huet (and the fact that Huet wanted 3 years), we ended up with Theodore who wasn't exactly our first choice but would be a stop gap until the kids were ready. I was assuming he'd be the backup but a backup that would play a lot since Varlamov is not ready to play 60+ games at the present time. SV played more frequently the playoffs than he had in the regular reason, both NHL and Hershey. I believe his main problem in Game 7 was that he ran out of gas.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | August 14, 2009 9:12 PM | Report abuse

It's interesting that the Caps in Pictures blog site was featuring pictures of goalies this week during the week they changed goalie coaches. (With David Prior resigning to spend time with family.)

Posted by: CapsFan75 | August 14, 2009 9:13 PM | Report abuse

Capsyoungguns, Of course every team wants that number one defensemen and there aren't alot of those available ever. So beyond Pronger and Bouwmeester there were still plenty of defensemen that could be had that would bring experience and stability that is sorely lacking on the Caps backend. Some names would be Komisarek, Oduya, Scuderi, Mara and the list goes on. And none of those guys demanded $5 million contracts and only Komisarek really sniffed that number at something like $4.25 million a year.

Posted by: freakinandpeakin | August 14, 2009 10:15 PM | Report abuse

I always find it humorous that we talk about how we should trade players on here that there is the impression that they aren't working out here. Most of the time I disagree with trading them, but what gives me a chuckle is the assumption mainly about Theodore that there would be a market for him. I would think that if he is playing well enough to have value, he'd stay with the Caps. Other teams in the NHL aren't going to give up anything more than a 3rd round pick or less for a player that would then be a UFA shortly there after. If he were to be traded, it would have happened already. So, he is our #1 and the Caps ride him until he falls. If he falls we have 2 goalies ready to step up and have a chance.

I'm hoping JT has a great year for the Caps sake and heck, even for his so he can get a fat contract with someone else. The mans got a family to provide for.

Posted by: lornemyoung | August 14, 2009 10:36 PM | Report abuse

it really doesn't matter who starts as number one, personally I'd rather see Theo and Varly split the playing time equally during the regular season. And I hope Theo does well so he can be a trade bait.

it's such a long season, if you can make the playoffs playing two goalies equally during the regular season, that's always the best way.

Posted by: joek443 | August 15, 2009 12:08 AM | Report abuse

Okay I recognize the names you mention but which one would you have gone after? I'm not sure what style of d-man you think the team needs. Everyone on this board talks about improving our defense but aren't specific. And if you want "grittier" please tell me what constitutes grit. Seems like posters love that description but all mean it differently, myself included. A lot of words have been "spilt" on this issue and I am trying to understand the different points of view.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | August 15, 2009 1:05 AM | Report abuse

There's actually a website that Mr. McPhee and Mr. Boudreau and Mr. Leonsis visit quite often. They graciously review posters suggestions and if it's one that make sense to them, the person gets a contract for a bazillion dollars to be the new GM for the Capitals and gets the opportunity to kick McPhee and Leonsis in the nu*s, i mean shins.

Rather than dwell on the d-men that "got away", how 'bout we focus on the guys we do have and hope for the best. As a spectator, I kinda' get the feeling I'm going to be rooting for the Capitals, whether it's Theo in net or Nylander centering the first line or Schultz, Jurcina, or Morrissonn (extra s's and n's and r's for insurance) playing defense.

Okay, we can go back to looking down our noses again at the defensemen we currently have and giving thumbs up's and #1's to Theo, Nylander, and any other player we don't like and then roll our eyes as they walk past us and call them insipid oafs behind their backs. I honestly could live with myself for doing that. *rolls eyes*

FYI: Heavy on the sarcasm above.

Posted by: LeftCoastCapsFan | August 15, 2009 2:23 AM | Report abuse

OMG somebody help me. I'm online playing poker and a Pens fan is all over me! You wouldn't believe this 12 yr old )(*^&(^*)! If there's 1 team in this frickin league I can't stand it's those jerks who live in igloo's! AHHHHHHHHHHHHH! I can't stand this! I'm gonna end up taking a shot! Seriously it could be a Flyers, Rangers or any other fan in the world but this guy just won't quit. Of course Crysby would score 50 goals too if he took 80 shots a game! I said well then why doesn't he? And that's just the small part of it. It's gotten to how much of a superior franchise the Pens are compared to us. I can't take this anymore. Can the season please hurry up and get here? Ted if you don't get us a Cup and quick I'm gonna hurt a Pens fan or 8,000!

Posted by: pokerfaceI208 | August 15, 2009 4:02 AM | Report abuse

@richmondphil: The window is open now, because that is the way things worked out. Perhaps they are "ahead of schedule" in Ted and GMGM's mind, but then you have to adapt to the changed circumstances. You can't say we are ahead of schedule, but we are going to stick to our plan we had developed figuring it would take 5 years to get to this point. If you get to the point in three years then modify your plan to take into account you are ahead of schedule.

As for your comment that GMGM is being frugal, that is who he has always been and always will be. The Jagr deal was Leonsis' idea, which GMGM didn't want to do. GMGM has never made any trade of great significance to this franchise since the Oates/Tocchet/Ranford for Allison/Carter/Carey trade in 1997. Just look at the players acquired during the GMGM era through trade and free agency and compare it to the work of David Poile. Any analysis will tell you that Poile outshines McPhee with acquisitions like Langway, Murphy, Ciccarelli, Johansson, Iafrate, Cote, Tinordi, Miller and Ridley. Sorry, but Jagr, Linden, Poti, Pothier, Knuble, and Nylander (two times) just don't match up.

______________________

You are missing my point, I think. I also mentioned ted/GMGM when talking about Jagr.

Posted by: richmondphil | August 15, 2009 9:53 AM | Report abuse

Personally I kinda expect a trade or two down the road and if I remember correctly the past trade opportunities were a little two pricey--one of our goalies and one of our young defensemen Alzner or Carlson. I only remember Bouwmeister (spelling?) and Pronger as the big names that were available but there is much I don't know and am still learning about defensemen.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | August 14, 2009 9:06 PM |

I agree. We will see at the very least one trade before the season starts. hopefully 2 or 3.

As far as D-man available , Pronger was not a FA but was traded. Bouwmeister's rights were traded, as he was a RFA. We would not have been able to afford either of these guys though.

As far as d-men I liked who were up for grabs at free agent frenzy, Greg Zanon, Rob Scuderi (who was out of our range after that Cup run), and maybe some others. Pickings were pretty slim this year.

Next year FA frenzy will be insane though. Lots of UFAs next year.

Posted by: richmondphil | August 15, 2009 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Oh yeah, add Oduya to that list.

Mara? come on now freakin... :)

Posted by: richmondphil | August 15, 2009 9:59 AM | Report abuse

@capsyounguns: To me grittier means someone who could clean out the front of the net. Someone like a Pronger (yes he was out of the Caps range), or a Mark Tinordi from the old Caps. A guy who made a player pay for standing in front of the net and made them think twice about going there. Just look at the Caps/Pens series and where Crosby got all but one or two of his goals. He was standing within 5 feet of the net and no one touched him. The Caps didn't lose that series because they didn't have a guy standing in front of the net, they lost because Crosby and Malkin could walk to the front of the net and not worry about being hit. The best example of that was Crosby's goal that got him a hat trick. He was standing on the side of the net and took three swings at the puck and no body contact by the defensemen.

@LeftCoast: you mean the teams official boards where people get banned for expressing the types of opinions I am stating here. And no, I haven't been banned from there because the discussion there has turned into the trade Nylander for Kaberle ridiculousness.

@richmondphil: First, what return are the Caps going to get on those trades you see coming and which have been predicted for the past 2 years? Jurcina or Mo or Schultz is going to bring a second round pick...at best. That goes to my thoughts that qualifying all of them was a huge mistake and that the money could have been spent better elsewhere. They don't have great value, especially when you look at the list of available d-men via UFA.

Second, I live up here in NYC and saw alot of Mara the past couple of seasons. He is way underrated and I think is going to be sorely missed by the Rangers. No, he isn't a top pair d-man, but he is better that Juice, Schultz or Mo.

Posted by: freakinandpeakin | August 15, 2009 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Mara is horrible, and is no way better than Juice. Yeah, Mara may be the better regular season d-man, but Juice was much better than him in the playoffs.

Most likely, the trade will be a 3-way, and a package. First of all, a trade HAS to happen. We are above the cap, unless we want to risk losing someone on waivers. At least one trade will happen.

Posted by: richmondphil | August 15, 2009 10:22 AM | Report abuse

I'm wary of opinions of d-men on this board.

A lot of people here consider Poti a "top 2" d man. Yeah.....only on our team.

Posted by: richmondphil | August 15, 2009 10:26 AM | Report abuse

So wait...Mara is better than Juice during an 82 game season, but come the playoffs in a 7 game series in which the Caps struggled to beat an outmanned team and all of a sudden Juice is a better d-man. Sorry, I would contest that.

Second, I never said Poti was a top 2. I have said the Caps have one top 2 (Green), Poti is a 3 or 4 in Poti and the rest are pretty much 5, 6 or 7.

Posted by: freakinandpeakin | August 15, 2009 11:05 AM | Report abuse

freakinandpeakin is exactly right. The caps may have a better group of defensemen next season with probable additions of Alzner and Carlson but they still lack a nasty guy back there who will make life difficult for opposing forwards every night.

A couple guys they have right now can do it but they can't do it on a consistent basis. Like GMGM says it really doesn't take special talent for any forward to stand in front of the net but some guys just aren't willing to do it. it's the same thing for defensemen. You don't have to be a gifted defenseman to play tough and sometimes nasty in your zone but some just can't or won't play that style.

Posted by: joek443 | August 15, 2009 11:44 AM | Report abuse

@richmondphil and freakinandpeakin--useful responses. Thank you. I am still a little fuzzy about opportunity timelines thus I remembered Scudari as being expensive as a UFA but didn't realize that the Pens had gotten him before the playoffs I'm assuming through trade. Also appreciate your definition of gritty. I agree we didn't figure out how to push Crosby from our net--something that I thought Detroit did quite well.
@leftcoastfan--I am not worrying about d-m getting away. I am very Caps-centric and am fond of all of our players. I think the team--from offense to defense--has great chemistry and heart.
Last year was my fandom year and this one is to gain also understanding of the nuances and strategies in all aspects. People get very heated on many boards about this d-men issue, some of which seems to be different styles. We clearly are a very offensively-minded team. I don't know enough yet to have an educated opinion about this issue BUT I support our all of our players and will cheer them madly on ice. My husband and son didn't know what they had unleashed (no pun intended) when they convinced me to get season tickets--I just thought it would be a good family thing to do. I was hooked from that first playoff game against the Flyers.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | August 15, 2009 12:09 PM | Report abuse

@Freakin and other GMGM bashers- you could debate between the list of UFA Dmen that you listed and how much of an upgrade it would actally be to our D and I would strongly disagree but lets go ahead and say you're right. The reason GMGM said he isn't going to make a big FA splash is because those contracts RARELY work out. Oftentimes the teams that sign big UFA's are trying to dump the people they signed. So let me phrase the question a little differently, tell me what UFA contracts HAVE worked out to where the player typically played up to the contract. My point being even if GMGM went out there and did sign a big UFA Dman, he probably wouldn't have lived up to the contract (see Nyls). The list goes on and on of ones that didn't.

GMGM WILL pull the trigger on a TRADE when the right one is there.

Posted by: pokerfaceI208 | August 15, 2009 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Just for the record I don't have any issues with GMGM. His job is all about the quiet negotiation--it would be silly for him to announce his intentions. And I expect him to tweak and prune the roster but it is pretty good as it is. Whatever the team's mistakes they are exciting to watch and from Ovi down appreciative of the fans. GMGM takes the overall strategic direction for building the team from Leonsis so ultimately I consider it his responsibility. And in general I like him. He is passionnate about his hockey and this team. When I've heard him speak such as in the Coach's Corner with Vogel I take him at face value. He wants to be in contact with the fans--accessible--and he has said that he has made mistakes (jagr for example) but is trying to learn from them. He also stated that he has tried to rebuild the team in a Cap conscience era recognizing that he can't keep the core intact indefinitely so he has to keep tweaking to keep us a force for years.
I agree that we can't just shoot for the Cup in a single year but have to to be strong enough to keep coming back as a contender.

I think if the Wings had been healthier they may well have pulled it out and I do think the Pens learned from their experience of the previous year. And they did show their youth in this year's finals when they completely fell apart in game 5 (or was it 6?) and started they taking blatant whacks at the Wings out of frustration.

I like Leonsis's passion for the Caps and his willingness to engage with the fans and admit when he's wrong. And I have faith that the SC will be won by our team if not this year then the next. I do think the window will be open for that long at the very least.

And WHEN the Caps win the Cup we will be there to enjoy the moment.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | August 15, 2009 8:04 PM | Report abuse

pokerface, I hope you see the irony in your argument against signing UFAs. You call me a basher of GMGM and then you in essence bash him for making free agent signings that haven't lived up to the contract. Yet, you (I don't know if it was you personally, but the GMGM defenders) defend his UFA signings of this summer of Knuble and B-Mo. So, which is it: His UFA signings are busts and we shouldn't be making UFA signings, or we should make UFA free agent signings?

The only point I have been trying to make is if you are going to make a UFA signing focuse on fixing a weakness. And like it or not getting a top end d-man is insanely expensive in the trade market, look at what Pronger cost. So, if the Caps don't want to spend what it will cost to get a Pronger (and not necessarily disagreeing with that decision), the next and only place to do that is in the free agent market.

You say he will make a trade to get that d-man. Are you going to be willing to spend the assets to get that player if it costs one of Alzner or Carlson, because that is likely what it is going to take to get that top pairing d-man. S-Mo and Bourque (for example) isn't going to get you a Bouwmeester-esque or Pronger-esque player.

Posted by: freakinandpeakin | August 15, 2009 8:34 PM | Report abuse

@capsyoungguns, I don't need my GM to be blustery, but it would be nice to have a Brian Burke or Ray Shero. A GM who is willing to acknowledge the weaknesses of a contending team and make trades with assets to fix those holes. The last trades the GMGM has made for this team were a draft pick for Huet, Matt Cooke for Matt "Princess" Pettinger, and Ted Ruth for Sergei Fedorov. Those trades were nearly a year and a half ago...the longest stretch in team history.

Second, this notion of that Leonsis has sold about being competitive for a decade is such a farce. This team has a core, like Detroit, Pittsburgh and Chicago that will keep them at the top of the league for years to come. You keep that core together and make moves with your other assets. I just find it sad that this is a Stanley Cup contending team and as fans we have been told for at least two years to wait on two defensemen who haven't seen any or any significant time at the NHL level in Carlson and Alzner.

Lastly, if you can find tape of Rod Langway, Mark Tinordi, or Scott Stevens and what they meant to the Washington Capitals you will get a real sense of what gritty defense can do for you. Heck, Brendan Witt offered that toughness, despite his penchant for stupid penalties. Just think if one of those guys were on this team and Crosby tried to set up in front of the net...

Posted by: freakinandpeakin | August 15, 2009 8:45 PM | Report abuse

this team stil has a tendency to get into a defensive funk and give up 2 or 3 easy goals in a row way too often. That's why having a strong defensive anchor such as Langway, Stevens or Tinordi is so important to a team.

From what I've heard of Carlson, he seems to have more of that leadership quality than Alzner but we shall see.

Posted by: joek443 | August 15, 2009 9:26 PM | Report abuse

Lastly, dcsportsfan, you are absolutely right that those trades were success for GMGM. But you conveniently ignore the Aulin for Carter trade and the Konowalchuk for Battaglia and Johansson trade that were made during the same season. All GM's will succeed and fail on certain trades. But just citing the success ignores some pretty big failures and skews a GM's actual record.

Posted by: freakinandpeakin | August 14, 2009 7:38 PM | Report abuse

freakin, gotta call you on this one. sure every GM has good and bad trades. but the two trades you are citing as bad are pretty insignificant really. remember what time frame you are talking about. the blow up and rebuild time, facing a lockout and salary cap. both carter and kono were like 30 at the time and certainly not part of any rebuild. at least he tried to get some value for a couple of younger guys at the time. didnt pan out. i loved kono as a player. but neither he nor carter had any significant career beyond that point. certainly they would not be contributors today. i view those trades as a wash. could GM have gotten more for those guys, maybe. probably not. in fact, i think he traded kono to the avs as a good will gesture to try and get him a cup, similar to hunter.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | August 15, 2009 9:47 PM | Report abuse

@dcsportsfan: hold on, you've basically put GMGM in a no lose situation. If the trade works out then he did great and if they trade is bad it doesn't really matter because they weren't part of the rebuild and were older players. If that is the analysis then of course GMGM is a fabulous GM that does no wrong.

Under your theory if Brooks Laich ended up being a bust, GMGM would get a pass because Bondra was over 30 and not part of the rebuild. Konowalchuk and Carter were assets and the return he got for them were busts. And to be more accurate, what he got for Jagr was the bust (Carter came in the Jagr trade and was turned around for Aulin a couple of months later).

Posted by: freakinandpeakin | August 15, 2009 10:22 PM | Report abuse

Freakin - I think you're just trying to pick a fight and bring a lowest common denominator into this instead of looking at the entire statement. My statement was "GMGM stated he didn't want to make a big splash in UFA as those contracts RARELY work out". So what I'm saying is that he has obviously learned from his mistakes and he's spot on. Very few of the big contracts he handed out in UFA worked out and many others don't either. I could type numerous names to prove the point but won't as I don't think that's debatable. So has he signed UFA to big contracts sure but I don't see him ever doing it again and I don't blame him due to the history.

The Avalanche are in a rebuild mode right now and that's because Pierre Lacroix stepped down and hired Francois Giguere. Francois had a completely different approach and now the Avs are suffering because of it. Pierre never signed UFA at all. His work was all done through the draft and trades. This formula won them 2 Cups. Francois comes on board completely abandons this formula and they were the 2nd worst team in the league last year.

Now I will grant you that Pierre did pull off huge trades in getting very important players to help them win the Cup but the point is more towards staying away from UFA's. I think now that GMGM has assets galore he is more capable of making these kinds of trades now than ever before.

Posted by: pokerfaceI208 | August 16, 2009 12:34 AM | Report abuse

I'm not disagreeing that his UFA signings have been busts or underperforming. If that is the case, why are you giving him a pass on it? That is what I don't understand in all of this.

1) He gets a pass on the bad UFA signings, because he has learned...has he? This offseason he gave out $4.3 million for two players (Knuble and B-Mo), last season he gave out $4.5 million for one player (Theo), the season before he gave out around $8.3 million to two players (Nyles and Poti) and the season before $2.5 million for one (Pothier). He seems to spend every off-season on FAs and has not made a single trade in a year and a half. Doesn't sound like someone who is hesitant to give out FA contracts.

2) He gets a pass on bad trades, because Kono and Carter were older players who weren't going to be around for the rebuild. At the same time he gets credit for the Lang and Bondra trades during the same time period, because those trades worked out.

3) He gets a pass on failing to fix a weak defense, because we have to unproven prospects that MAY be good veterans in 3 or 4 years.

Lastly, I'm not exactly sure where the Avs rant came from, but I find it funny you bring up the Avs. You are criticizing the new Avs GM after 2 years and one playoff miss after a stretch in which they did win two Cups and there two mainstays were either aging or gone (Sakic and Forsberg). We are 12 years into GMGMs tenure and have one series victory since 1998 (and lets be honest, the 1998 team was basically a David Poile team), yet excuses can be made for him.

Posted by: freakinandpeakin | August 16, 2009 1:13 AM | Report abuse

The only excuse Poile needs is that well it's Poile and Abe was the owner. That's like the blind leading the blind. The Avs rant was to show you that the formula of not signing big UFA contracts works. Thought I state that.

Your big argument is he hasn't addressed the D in which he has. He hasn't gone out and gotten the bid Dman you say we need but I'm not so sure your list includes anybody that would expenentially improve our D. You say Komisarek, OK so he signed for 4.25M, is he gonna be 3M better than Alzner or Carlson? IDK but I would tend to think not. We don't know exactly what we have in Alzner and Carlson so why go spending money and trading people when the answers COULD already be here?

You also state that we have only won 1 playoff series since 98, well how many do you think we should have won? That's a completely baseless comment. We should've beat Tampa but we didn't and the team was blown up because of it. GMGM did the best he could and got everything he could for the existing assets. It's completely unfair to state that you're not winning playoff series when you're rebuilding. What's more important is how many should we have won in the past 2 years when the team was legitimately competitive and competing for a playoff spot. In each of the past 2 years we have made progress. Is it great no, but I tend to look at the positives vs. the negatives.

I think a lot of your frustration will subside this year. If we don't make it to the Finals this year or at least have a strong showing in the Conf Finals, I would look at this upcoming season as a failure. I think Ted and GMGM would too. They know what they have here and they have an opportunity for something special.

We're in the same boat man. I wish we could get that big D guy too but he isn't out there. There's more than 1 way to skin a cat. I think we can win w/o a Pronger type Dman.

Posted by: pokerfaceI208 | August 16, 2009 2:26 AM | Report abuse

Just managed to get back on now. Been busy signing off on the checks of McPhee and Leonsis. I managed to pass along some of your comments to them and they chuckled. Fortunately for you, I reminded them who signs their paychecks. Of course, they laughed some more and called the cops to remind me that I didn't sign their paychecks and told me to come back to them when I own a hockey team and/or managed one before I tell them how to do their job. I said fair enough and then told them we were still mad they didn't get Pronger.

I think they got the message. You think?

*snicker*

I can't wait for the trolls to come back so we can beat up on them instead of each other. =/

Posted by: LeftCoastCapsFan | August 16, 2009 3:17 AM | Report abuse

pokerface I am so confused by you. You made a blanket statement that GMGM has addressed the defense. How? And please answer that with something other than we need to let the defense mature. That isn't addressing anything, it is putting faith that Mo, Juice, Erskine and Schultz are all of a sudden going to show something they have never shown before. They have reached their ceiling.

You even state that "I wish we could get that big D guy too". Anyone with half an eye towards hockey can tell you that the Caps lack that stay at home punishing defensemen. I'm not making some earth shattering revelation. This has been a need for this team since they traded Witt. At the beginning of the last three seasons it has become a broken record saying that the Caps need that defensemen. It is like the Redskins and the offensive line. New year same issues.

I also can't believe I am actually having to address Carlson and Alzner vs. Komisarek. There is not one person in the hockey world who would tell you that in August 2009 that that Alzner and/or Carlson can give you anywhere near what Komisarek can on the ice. Do they have potential, yes. But Komisarek is a 27 year old defensemen with 361 games played, has proven he is a NHL quality defensemen that can average over 20 minutes of ice time each per game. Carlson hasn't stepped on an NHL ice surface. Alzner has 30 games of experience. That's great to live on potential, but potentisl doesn't always pan out and chances are at least one of the two won't live up to expectations.

Posted by: freakinandpeakin | August 16, 2009 3:58 AM | Report abuse

pokerface, as for your crack about David Poile. He is one of the most respected GM's in the NHL and built competitive teams in Washington and Nashville under very difficult financial/ownership situations, has won the Lester Patrick Award and if not for Abe's refusal to match the St. Louis offer for Stevens we may very well have had a Stanley Cup in Washington. So taking a shot at him doesn't really help your argument...and I'll leave it at that.

I find it convenient that you once again want to work time periods to your advantage. Only look at the last two years and ignore the rest of someones entire career. I have said on these boards that GMGM needs to be graded on pre and post lockout basis. He should have been fired in 2003, but he wasn't. I was not of the opinion he should have been fired when the playoffs ended this year...his handling of this offseason changed my opinion on that. How he again ignored/addressed the defensive issues by qualifying three average defensemen after re-signing Erskine to a two year deal during the season is beyond me. GMGM has had his chance with this team and this year should be it for him, no more excuses. SC Final appearance or fired and sadly with the defensive core he has put together...well we've seen that show the past two seasons...I think we know how it is going to end.

Posted by: freakinandpeakin | August 16, 2009 4:18 AM | Report abuse

The only excuse Poile needs is that well it's Poile and Abe was the owner. That's like the blind leading the blind. The Avs rant was to show you that the formula of not signing big UFA contracts works. Thought I state that.

Posted by: pokerfaceI208 | August 16, 2009 2:26 AM

I'm not the biggest fan of Abe but that's a little over the top to say the least. And as far as Poile, I'd take him over GMGM anyday. What has GMGM exactly done better than Poile? I sure can't think of any. yeah he got lucky and drafted OV but what else has he done trade-wise better than Poile???

Posted by: joek443 | August 16, 2009 9:10 AM | Report abuse

freakin, i'm not trying to be a GM apologist. he's made plenty of mistakes. you made the point that the carter and kono trades were examples of bad trades that out weight the good ones i pointed out. i say those trades were insignificant since neither side got much in the way of value. at the time, what were the prospects for aulin or johannson? were they viewed as having big upside vs. carter and kono and it didnt pan out? were there better deals on the table that GM didnt make? you and i dont know, but we do know that none of those deals had any impact on the teams involved.

bondra had value at the time he was dealt. not for us because he was getting up in years and not part of the rebuild plan. but he had value for ottawa and other teams in the playoff mix. it worked out well for us. had it not, then sure, it would have been considered a bad trade because he would have traded someone of value to another team for nothing.

as for the jagr trade. that was a bad deal all around. it was a good move to get him since we didnt give up much. bad deal to resign him and we had to eat a big s-sandwich to get rid of him. who knew he would become an MVP after that. again, i think we now know it was ted's idea to bring him in.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | August 16, 2009 9:32 AM | Report abuse

How he again ignored/addressed the defensive issues by qualifying three average defensemen after re-signing Erskine to a two year deal during the season is beyond me.

ok freakin, again not trying to be a GM apologist. but you dont just let three young dmen walk out the door w/ no compensation. these guys have value and i believe one or more of them will be moved to make way for alzner perhaps carlson. also, if you didnt notice, erskine was probably our most steady dman in the later half of the season and playoffs. his signing was a head scratcher at the time, but it looks like a good move right now. he would have commanded twice as much money on the open market.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | August 16, 2009 9:37 AM | Report abuse

For those that did not see this,Oskar Osala was named to the Finnish Olympic team camp, along with 45 others, so not sure of his chances of making the team, but do they have goalies..

Posted by: RichC3 | August 16, 2009 11:22 AM | Report abuse

freakinandpeakin:
in your opinion - what would be a good trade for either theo or nyls?

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | August 16, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

So wait...Mara is better than Juice during an 82 game season, but come the playoffs in a 7 game series in which the Caps struggled to beat an outmanned team and all of a sudden Juice is a better d-man. Sorry, I would contest that.


Posted by: freakinandpeakin | August 15, 2009 11:05 AM |

"Contest" it all you want, all it takes is to re-watch the first round last year. Mara got played constantly. Juice was by far our best d-man. Better than Poti, better than Green, better than everyone.

I'll say it again. Mara blows.


Criticism is fun and all, but you are just running around in circles now. Give us substance, or move on. Harping on GMGM or other past incidences in a distinctly negative outlook is a more played out shtick (see: Cheef, cstanton1, etc) than trolling itself.

Posted by: richmondphil | August 16, 2009 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Komi would have been awesome, but we can't afford him.

(Yeah, but we can just trade people!)

No...no you cannot "just trade" people.

Posted by: richmondphil | August 16, 2009 2:32 PM | Report abuse

This is the best you've got to show that GMGM is doing a bad job? Give me a break. Just in this town - remember Charley Casserly? Remember Heath Shuler, Michael Westbrook, Desmond Howard, all high #1 picks?
Now that's a bad GM.

Posted by: zmega | August 16, 2009 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Freakin - I made the blanket statement that the D has been addressed already at least 3 times and felt the point was already made enough and didn't need to repeat myself but I will now. GMGM has addressed the D in that he has 2 UFA's that are more defensive minded than the 2 they replaced. He has hired a new D and PK coach (our 2 most glaring weaknesses) and the existing D we have is another year and yet another playoff series experienced and YES, we have up and coming 1 if not 2 guys ready for regular ice time. So while we didn't get Pronger or whoever else you want him to get we have improved on our D. A responsible forward is just as important as a solid D man unless you're an OV or a Bure who can put 60 pucks in the net. You also point to a Witt or the like as the type of person we need, well then who is Erskine? Is there really that big of a difference between the 2? Sure I think Witt is probably a little better but marginally.

My point about Komisarek wasn't that he's better than Alzner or Carlson, my point was is he 3M+ better than them? Right off the cuff you could say yes in a NON salary cap environment but when you're up against the wall I don't know that you do that. I think you bring up your young guys, put them through an entire season to see what they can do and address weaknesses at the deadline.

You also stated to not offer QO's to a couple of our D's, let them walk and spend the $ on an UFA dman that's better. Really? So just let some mid 20's Dman go for nothing? How bright is that? I'm ok with trading them even for picks but to let them go w/o compensation is pretty ridiculous.

The whole bottom line is you chose to focus on the things that GMGM does wrong or doesn't do for that matter whereas I chose to focus on the good. If it were all bad we wouldn't be in the position that we are. Do you think Ken Holland ever made any mistakes? In the same token I'm not at all stating that everything he's done is perfect. I don't believe that at all but I do think that he has made mistakes and learned from them. He has built 2 teams essentially with 1 being from the ground up. He has changed as the league has changed and has put his best product on the ice to date.

Posted by: pokerfaceI208 | August 16, 2009 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Poile? Don't get me started. How many of the monumental drafting errors should I bring up for this guy? How many pages do you want? Really dude? You might have an argument about GMGM and our D but to compare GMGM to Poile is foolish and uneducated at best.

Posted by: pokerfaceI208 | August 16, 2009 4:42 PM | Report abuse

I can't agree with you more about the Stevens deal though. That was very harsh and a monumental mistake as well that fell in the lap of Abe. That certainly set us back a bit but that was under different management and different circumstances. I'd be hard pressed to find us repeating that same mistake with the ownership group we have now.

I've been here since the beginning so I feel the frustration but we are in the best spot the franchise has EVER been in by far. Even when we made our Cup run it was more of a "all the marbles falling in the right place" than it was to be a solid persistent contender.

Posted by: pokerfaceI208 | August 16, 2009 4:57 PM | Report abuse

LOL right, why don't you start with a few???

Posted by: joek443 | August 16, 2009 4:59 PM | Report abuse

come on DUDE, you said you had pages of monumental drafting errors by Poile.. what are they???

LMAO you are just full of $h@#!!

Posted by: joek443 | August 16, 2009 5:14 PM | Report abuse

pokerface you are so off base. I have consistently said that qualifying ALL THREE was a bad decision. I never said to let them all go. We are now stuck for another year with the same poor defense we have had for the past three seasons. GMGM made his decision by signing ALL THREE.

Everyone keeps talking about trades GMGM will make. Presuming he will make these trades who is he going to get for those defensemen? Teams don't trade d-men for d-men. S-Mo, Juice and Schultz individually have draft pick only value, or perhaps a third line forward. So everyone keeps talking about making trades, but what are we going to get for those players?

As for Poile. You are again way off base. Poile is one of the most respected GMs in the NHL and built competitive teams in two markets that had financial/ownership issues and he has won the Lester Patrick award. I won't defend his drafting record, because it isn't great but that is largely due to the failure of Pollin to fund a quality scouting department. On the flip side, GMGM hasn't been any more successful on the drafting front either.

Are you really comparing John Erskine to Brendan Witt? They play similar styles but Witt was a number 3 d-man who could play top two minutes if needed and Erskine is a 6 or 7 d-man, who is scratched regularly. Just because players play similar styles doesn't mean they are equivalent.

Here is what it comes down to with GMGM. If not for winning the lottery and getting Ovechkin is this a contending team? Is this a playoff team? When Crosby went down the Pens continued to win. When Datsyuk and/or Lidstrom were injured they continued on. If this team lost Ovechkin it would be done.

Posted by: freakinandpeakin | August 16, 2009 7:15 PM | Report abuse

All the arguing on this blog reminded me of what Ted Leonsis posted on his blog about the Caps Message board in any time. He essentially posted a bit from Monty Python that involved an argument. Seems that this applies to the posters here too.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | August 16, 2009 7:34 PM | Report abuse

there was no "monumental drafting errors by Poile", the team was picking towards the end of each round once the caps were no longer a bad team largely because of the trades he made in the early 80's.

if you wanna talk about monumental drafting errors, the portland trailblazers picking Sam Bowie instead of Michael Jordan was a MONUMENTAL drafting error. No, Poile didn't draft well but I blame that mostly on Jack Button who was the scouting guru and cheap Uncle Abe who I'm sure was reluctant to open his wallet for the scouting department. Under Leonsis and GMGM's watch, this team basically had to start from scartch a few years ago. and whose fault was that?? can't blame that on Polin or Poile.

Posted by: joek443 | August 16, 2009 8:23 PM | Report abuse

Does anybody know when the Caps promotional schedule is released ?

Posted by: richardware | August 16, 2009 9:54 PM | Report abuse

Joek- you need to do some research and look at some of the drafting errors Poile made. You & Freakin can make excuses all you want but Poile was the one making the final decisions. Money wasn't a factor as they would have been signed to entry level contracts so it wasn't Abe. Drafting fell on Poile, even Button could only suggest a player, Poile had the final say.

Posted by: pokerfaceI208 | August 16, 2009 11:46 PM | Report abuse

Yes Feakin I am comparing Witt to Erskine. Yes they play similar styles but aren't you the one stating that we need the S@H Dman similar to Witt? What part of that doesn't Erskine fill? I'm not debating if Witt is better, what my debate is, is it as different as the salaries. Witt makes 3M and Erskine 1.25, so my point in other words is, Witt isn't 3x's better than Erskine (round math). I've stated this several times, bang for your buck in a salary cap environment. I don't think Witt is THAT much of an upgrade.

Regardless dude like I said, you want to focus on the negative instead of the positive and that's you're right.

It crazy to state that we should have not offered a Dman in his mid 20's a QO to retain his rights (even 1). I can't believe you even stated that. Thats a Mike Keenan (GM) move. You will get your wish though, there will be 1 if not 2 D moved before the season starts and we'll get picks in return and let the younger guys come up and compete.

Posted by: pokerfaceI208 | August 16, 2009 11:59 PM | Report abuse

This team is not doomed w/o OV either. The only reason Pitt won w/o Crysby is b/c Malkin turned into a monster. So if OV were to ever go down, I still see us as a much better team than most in the league TODAY. We're still a playoff team w/o OV. Not so sure that was the case last year but I think our team TODAY is much better than it was last year. Our forwards, goalies, and PK are all better and our D has another yr experience. So I'm not with you in the boat that we're doomed if OV goes down. I don't see our team as that fragile. I think we'd have to change our style a bit but this is a very talented and deep team.

The one thing you CAN'T possibly debate is this is the best Caps team we have ever had. We are built to contend now and in the future. It's is done under Ted and GMGM NOT Poile and Abe.

Posted by: pokerfaceI208 | August 17, 2009 12:06 AM | Report abuse

First, I said Poile's drafting was poor. I just said that GMGM has been just as poor as Poile. So don't lay that at my feet.

What part of the equation does Erskine not fit? HE ISN'T AS GOOD AS WITT. You say as much. This is the second time you have tried to qualify someone's ability by looking at salary. That isn't how the game works. I mean, using richmondphil's theory that a playoff series means more than and entire regular season and couple that with your theory about money and Mike Green is a worse offensive threat that Jurcina based on playoff performance and money earned. Are you willing to say that?

"It crazy to state that we should have not offered a Dman in his mid 20's a QO to retain his rights (even 1)." What if that d-man isn't good enough? I mean, McPhee didn't qualify Pokuluk or Lepisto. What about them? I know, I know, they weren't good enough to make it to the NHL. So your statement is clearly false, there are times when qualifying a mid-20s d-man isn't justified. I stand by my statement that qualifying all three was a mistake...or he should have traded there rights before he had to qualify them. You have three d-men on your roster that are all about equivalent in talent and by keeping all three you are hurting your team. Sometimes subtraction is good.

Posted by: freakinandpeakin | August 17, 2009 1:35 AM | Report abuse

Best team in Caps history. I'll take the 1989-1990 Caps over this team.

Goal: Beaupre and Mason
Defense: Langway, Stevens, Johansson, Hatcher, Rouse, Houlder and Sheehy
Forwards: Ciccarelli, Courtnall, Ridley, Pivonka, Hunter, Miller, Leach, Tucker, May, Corriveau, Joyce, Druce, Christian, Kypreos,

Posted by: freakinandpeakin | August 17, 2009 1:41 AM | Report abuse

Oh, one last thing. I find it sad that you will point to this team as the best team in Caps history and yet they have been the same exact team (minus goalie) for the past two seasons and they were able to win one playoff series. That's sad.

The team I named had two hall of fame defensemen, two all-star defensemen, Two potential hall of fame forwards in Dino and Dale, and besides Ovechkin and Bondra almost every leader in statistics in Capitals history.

I'd put a top three centers of Pivonka, Ridley and Hunter up against Backstrom, B-Mo and Steckel any day of the week.

Posted by: freakinandpeakin | August 17, 2009 1:45 AM | Report abuse

Actually, I am mistaken the best Caps team was probably the 1985-86 team.

Goalies: Al Jensen, Pete Peeters
Defense: Murphy, Langway, Stevens, Hatcher, Anderson, Veitch and Schofield
Forwards: Christian, Gartner, Gustaffson, Laughlin, Haworth, Carpenter, Gould, Jarvis, Adams, Duchesne, Petterson, Franceschetti

Posted by: freakinandpeakin | August 17, 2009 1:51 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 1:54 AM | Report abuse

I didn't read all the comments in this post but I did catch richmondphil's comments regarding Varly's game 7 performance. If someone already did this, I apologize. First the facts need to be straight. Varly did not give up 4 first period goals, he gave up 2. Secondly, they were not all glove, they were weak, but not all glove. Adams scored a weak goal by simply throwing the puck at the net a mere 12 seconds after the PP goal. The PP that should not have happened. The call on Morrisonn for slashing Fedetenko was rediculous.

Now, Varly did give up 2 back-breaking goals early in the 2nd, but he didn't give up 4 in the first. Another glaring stat from that game was the fact that the Pens received zero (0) penalty minutes. That was of course a disturbing trend.

IMO Varly did lay an egg. It happens. How about Game 7 in 2002 when the Red Wings beat the Avalanche 7-0 with Roy in net? It happens to legends.

Varly or Neuvirth are the future of the franchise in net and that will sort out in the next couple of years. One of them will be dealt or collapse. After Theo leaves I could see the Caps bringing Johnson back as the backup/mentor. He didn't leave on bad terms, he was simply the only goaltender not under contract. IMO he held out signing with anyone else because he wanted to see if Theo could be moved. My prediction on Theo is what it has been all along. He plays solid enough to be wanted by a team hoping to make the playoffs but we feel confident enough in Varly or Neuvirth that we have no problem dealing Theo. We'll get a draft pick (4th rounder or so), or better yet, a player we think we may need in a trade deadline deal.

I see a lot of people concerned that Varly can't play 82 games. He shouldn't! Besides Brodeur, the freak of nature that as a goaltender play 70+ games, Varly will only play about 60-65 a season. That is the norm for successful goaltenders these days. Playing back to backs are normally shared.

Posted by: fanohock1 | August 17, 2009 7:14 AM | Report abuse

freakinandpeakin: You conveniently used Crosby going down, and the Pens still winning, as a success story for Shero. Of course the Pens kept winning, they still had their best player, Malkin. That's rediculous to say the GMGM is only looking good because he was lucky enough to land OV. Ray Shero inherited a team that had recently drafted Flery #1, Crosby #1, and Malkin #2. Where would the Pens be in not for those 3 picks.

GMGM on the other hand, besides OV, has players further down in the draft that are successful. Although I liked Eminger, he was panning out here, GMGM struck a deal with the Flyers, Eminger to move up in the 2008 draft to select Carlson. GMGM has done some subtle things that have worked.

Posted by: fanohock1 | August 17, 2009 8:11 AM | Report abuse

The most relevant comparison to the past is the relative condition of the franchise. The franchise has never been in better shape - great young players, very good ones in the pipeline, ticket sales, etc. Someone should get some credit for that.

Posted by: zmega | August 17, 2009 10:52 AM | Report abuse

@ zmega: We can't give anyone credit because freakin won't allow us to. As for actually being remotely content/happy about our current team, there's not point either. But if you've got complaints, please post them. It's best to dump on the team now because it's far better use of our time to do that than to actually be hopeful that they'll accomplish something this year.

Anyone else want to travel to 1985 and 1986 and see if they had a few people b*tching and complaining about that team as much as some other people are b*tching about this team? *rolls eyes*

Posted by: LeftCoastCapsFan | August 17, 2009 11:17 AM | Report abuse

OK, boys and girls. THN (http://www.thehockeynews.com/articles/27434-The-Hockey-News-200910-NHL-regular-season-predictions-No-4.html) announced their picks for the next 4 slots in the standings.

Position 7 Buffalo Sabres and Dallas Stars
Position 6 Carolina and Anaheim
Position 5 NJ Devils and Calgary
Position 4 Philly and Detroit

In our division:

Atlanta - 14th
Florida - 12th
Tampa - 10th
Carolina - 6th

Which means that the Caps will be first in the division, and ranked in the top 3 in the east.

Posted by: Greg S. | August 17, 2009 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Since the last 3 spots are between the Caps, Pens and Bruins, I'd guess that the last 3 spots are:

Caps - 3rd
Pens - 2nd
Bruins - 1st

Boston added a bit of beef to their already protein rich lineup.

There's only marginal change to the Pens and the Caps, so we'll be below Boston. The Caps will be below the Pens simply because of Cindy.

Posted by: Greg S. | August 17, 2009 11:53 AM | Report abuse

I totally agree LCCF. I have been a Caps fan (Married a MD woman) since 1988 and the Caps have NEVER been this exciting. I never purchased season tickets in all those years because I knew I could always get tickets on game day. By the end of the 2008 season I purchased my season tickets beginning the 2008-09 season that guaranteed my seats for the playoffs. Why did I decide to buy season tickets? Easy, because I knew within a couple of years that it would be hard as hell to get into a Caps game. I'm not right all the time, but I was dead on 1 1/2 years ago. I renewed my tickets the first time I was asked and I will not give them up in the foreseeable future.

As long as the owner of the Caps continues to put a competive team on the ice I will renew my season tickets. I am lucky enough in this economy to afford them, I realize that, so I'm not in any way looking down on those that don't have season tickets.

For those that don't have season tickets make sure you go to the ticket master ticketexchange this season. When season ticket holders cannot make it to games they post them for sale up there. Sometimes it gets expensive. However, if you decide on a Wednesday that you'd like to see a Caps vs Preds game go to the ticketexchange, you'll most likely be able to get tickets at face value (plus ticketmaster fees).

There has never been a better time to be an optimistic Capitals fan. It's kind of cool that we only have 1 top 2 D, another top 4 D, and the rest 6-7 depth D, and we still got 108pts last season. Sorry pessemists, you don't accomplish that with D men that stink. Please don't try to make us all believe it is because we can only score goals. As the season unfolded Theo was trashed (and usually earned) for letting in very soft goals. We can't lose 3-2 or 4-3, blame Theo for letting in soft goals, and blame the D for not playing good. It's one or the other. Either the D played bad and their were good opportunities, or the goals were soft, take your pick.

Posted by: fanohock1 | August 17, 2009 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Another way to look at it is - is there another team that you would rather watch on a regular basis? Who has more players like Ovi, Semin, Green, and Varlamov who can at any time make a "did you see that?" kind of play. Who creates the anticipation that Ovi does when he gets the puck on the wing and shifts into another gear - with the d-man getting the big-eyed look, fearing that he's about to get posterized?

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

@ Greg S: Is it because we're letting "ladies" go first? =P

Posted by: LeftCoastCapsFan | August 17, 2009 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Well we ARE southern gentlemen afterall!

Posted by: Greg S. | August 17, 2009 1:27 PM | Report abuse

fanohock, So now GMGM is better than Shero? I understand being a fan of a team and being blind to some of the teams weaknesses and faults, I've been guilty of that. But why are you insisting on trying to de-value the work of a GM and an organization that has appeared in the last two Stanley Cup Final and won one of them? At the end of the day sports is measured by success. Shero has had more success than GMGM. Did he have Fleury, Malkin and Crosby, yes. But the Caps have Ovechkin, Backstrom and Green. Where is GMGMs success?

There are currently two GMs in the NHL that have been with their teams longer. Lou Lamerillo of New Jersey and Jim Rutherford of Carolina. What do those two have in common? Stanley Cup championships. There are 4 others that came in at the same time as McPhee and they are the GMs from Detroit (won 3 Stanley Cups), Buffalo (Lost once in the Finals and Lost 3 times in the Conference Finals), Nashville (expansion franchise) and St. Louis and Atlanta's came in the year after.

What I find interesting is that under David Poile the Caps go to the playoffs for the first time ever and end up going for 14 years straight (admittedly in an era it was easier to make the playoffs). He misses the playoffs one time and is fired. GMGM has been here 11 seasons and has missed the playoffs 5 times and still has a job.

Posted by: freakinandpeakin | August 17, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse

@freakinandpeakin: you can't have it both ways. It can't be Ovi falling into GMGM's lap and Shero wisely choosing Crosby. The Pens were in the rebuilding mode a few years earlier than the Caps and were able to get Fleury no. 1 pick, Malkin no. 2 pick, Crosby no. 1 pick and Staal, no. 2 (or was it 3) pick.

The ball did not bounce so well for us. Despite being just as much of a losing team, we only had Ovi no. 1 pick and Backstrom, no. 4 pick as our only top 5 picks. Our other first round drafts were farther down the list, and I think they were pretty good. Semin and Green are the obvious ones. Additionally we are now getting our young goalie at the end of our rebuilding process. Fleury has had many years to develop.

Personally I find there are a lot of similarities between the way our team and the Pens are being built, but they definitely have had a head start and some amazingly lucky ping pong ball bounces.

Second, to posters wishing to recap the Caps' glory days of the 80s and 90s, I'm glad you are die-hard Caps fans but geez enough already. The past is the past. And from all that I've read and heard, post lockout hockey is played differently with the hope for more speed and goal making, hence all of the new rules about hooking, holding, etc., etc., etc.. I would be more interested in reading commentary about the best defense players of today--and different defensive styles too.

The trend seems to be more of an offensive-defensive kind of d-man--at least to me that is. I already know that a lot of you disagree or disapprove. So respond and I'll happily read everyone's opinions, but keep it on current players PLEASE.

Posted by: newbiecapsfan07 | August 17, 2009 5:27 PM | Report abuse

@freakinandpeakin:...Point being, I think the d-men we have are at the max of their ability...

Huh!? Seriously?

@freakinandpeakin:...Jeff Schultz is slow and no amount of coaching is going to change that.

Science and sports training says otherwise. Same thing was said about Zdeno Chara earlier in his career before he turned himself into the beast that he is with his love for punishing tour de france type bicycle riding.

People, please don't make it that I am stating that Schultz is Zdeno Chara. All I'm saying is he's a big kid and he can only get better.

Posted by: GoEagles | August 17, 2009 6:46 PM | Report abuse

How come Halpern is at Kettler? Is he just home for the offseason and we let him practice here? Did I miss an article or something? It seems weird if he is on another team to let him come practice with us.

Posted by: C-A-P-Scapscapscaps | August 18, 2009 6:13 AM | Report abuse

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