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What Did You Expect?

I spent the past hour taking the temperature of the fan base by browsing the message boards over at www.washingtoncaps.com, just as I often do following a bad loss.

I found the following threads: "Fire Hanlon", "Fire GMGM!" and "Bye-Bye Playoff Hopes".

I've got to say, I'm shocked by the level of outrage.

Really, what were those fans expecting? Have they looked at the roster?

It's got fewer NHL-caliber players than any other team in the league. It did in October, and it does now.

Yeah, the injuries hurt. But so does an NHL-low payroll that's barely $31 million. That's the biggest problem, in my opinion.

About five weeks ago, I wrote a blog item entitled "You Get What You Pay For". It made a few folks in the front office -- and one owner -- pretty angry. Funny, I haven't heard from any of them lately. Guys, my email address hasn't changed.

For me, the fact that the Caps aren't challenging Philadelphia for futility is nothing short of amazing.

Thoughts?

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  February 2, 2007; 5:39 AM ET
 
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Comments

You are dead right about this situation...the low payroll basically means 'you get what you pay for'. Look at the d-men minutes played....you have minor leaguers playing 20-some minutes....no wonder you give up 6 goals to a mediocre team. But the most depressing part of the last month for the Caps has been that they are now getting consistently outworked by the opposition, whereas the first part of the season it was the opposite...

Posted by: Larry | February 2, 2007 7:48 AM | Report abuse

Tarik,

I'm not so sure that I agree with you that the payroll is the only reason, or even the main reason, that the Washington Capitals are out of the playoffs race. I suggest the reasons are: injuries and attitude.

The Washington Capitals have beaten the best teams in the NHL this year. They have demonstrated that they can skate equally as well with the best of the NHL when they want to. Additionally, I'd say the Capitals are stocked with talent equal to Pittsburg, Tampa Bay, NY Rangers, and the NY Islanders - all teams in the thick of the playoffs.

So how do you explain three losses by wide margins to the last place Panthers? Or inconsistent play from period to period? Or a power play threat that is as dangerous as a girl scout? Payroll?

I don't think so.

Posted by: Harry | February 2, 2007 7:51 AM | Report abuse

You get what you pay for is right. And here is the problem. The Caps will be "paying" for Alex Ovechkin (assume a maxed out salary under the cap rules -- $8.8 million in 2007 cap dollars), Alexander Semin (a top end scoring winger these days might command $5 million in 2007 cap dollars), Mike Green (a 3-4 defenseman might command $3 million), and a few others who are going to be due some substantial paydays if they grow into their potential. This will chew up a large and growing portion of the cap in the next 2-3 years as more players come due for paydays.

The Caps lack of experience and depth was laid bare as soon as they had injuries to what would normally be thought of as journeyman defensemen. Nothing surprising there. But the days of fantasy hockey are over. Today, in the new NHL, every personnel decision comes with a dollar sign, and if it isn't heeded -- and in the context of the dollar signs of the players around the ones you're thinking of bringing in -- one can be in salary cap hell mighty quickly.

Personally, I never held much expectation of playoffs for this club, this year. They were too green in too many areas, and there were too many holes to plug with trades and free agents. But the club is rapidly coming to a point -- given the experience the young guys will have under their belts -- where trades and free agency signings aren't just warranted, they're required. That is what the coming off season is for. I expect that the club will (as in, "had better") aggressively improve the roster. Otherwise, the players here are being given little tangible evidence of front office seriousness about being competitive, and fans are being given little incentive to return to the stands.

Posted by: The Peerless | February 2, 2007 8:04 AM | Report abuse

Low payroll doesn't mean your players aren't able to clear the zone. Constantly we gain control, then attempt a weak clear off the boards which doesn't get out and all of our forwards have left up ice.

Plus, when you watch our penalty kill vs. our opponents PK, they're almost always more aggressive than Hanlon's system. The Caps sort of sit back, wait for the shot and then try those weak clear attempts.

No doubt Hanlon has done a great job preparing our guys, but it's becoming clear that the system has some glaring flaws.

Posted by: tallbear | February 2, 2007 8:06 AM | Report abuse

"It's got fewer NHL-caliber players than any other team in the league."

THANK YOU Tarik!

Posted by: caphcky | February 2, 2007 8:32 AM | Report abuse

Caps in the playoff? Forget it! The owners are more concerned with the "bottom line" than the team. I am really not looking forward to the encounter with the Pens. They do have the talent to blossom. We don't. Ovechkin and Semin together with Kolzig will not be able to consistently carry the team on their shoulders. The Caps have a very bad team. And the sooner GMGM and others admit it, the better it is going to be for the club and its fans (if the men in charge care at all about them). Signing this never-heard-about-before defenceman from Bruins will not solve the problem. The Caps have about 5 or 6 NHL-caliber players. Period! I wonder how long the management will try to sell "The Plan" to all of us. A lot of draft picks have proven to be major flops! The management have to be honest to themselves and admit that with this bunch they are never going to the playoffs. Next year will not be any different. Why should we pay to come and see this "team" play?

Posted by: Finn | February 2, 2007 9:26 AM | Report abuse

Dead on correct. You can't win games if you don't make the effort to put a winning team out there on the ice.

Injuries have been a problem, yes. But good teams have the depth to overcome injuries. Attitude is a problem, yes, but good teams have coaches and players who fight through the tough times and find ways to win.

But most of all - the very most significant factor - is the quality of players out there. The Caps defense is horrible. It has been that way for two years. There's not nearly the level of talent that most other teams put out on the ice. I like Brian Pothier, have been watching him since he started college hockey, but when he is your "star defenseman," it says something about the cast of characters around him. If this team had three more Brian Pothiers, then we could consider it a good defense. But to invest in one new defenseman and assume it solves all our problems?

Similarly, on offense the Caps have fallen into the trap of assuming that one or two players can carry the entire load. It's just not possible in a team game like hockey to invest (or draft) two great offensive players, and then expect them to win games all on their own. The Caps are wasting this incredible period of having both Kolzig and Ovechkin on the ice at the same time, by refusing to upgrade around them.

No one wants to return to the days of overpriced Jagr. But it's important to realize that fans in Washington are so disgruntled with what we see as a lack of commitment to winning. I'm a lifelong hockey fan (not from Washington), and it's hard for me to stomach having to spend $50 to see a team that isn't even trying to compete, won't spend the extra $10mil to sign a few defensemen and try to succeed, and then makes it sound as if the fans are the problem because they won't turn out to see a team that just isn't that good.

Posted by: DC Mike | February 2, 2007 9:34 AM | Report abuse

From my vantage point, there hasn't been a concerted effort to put together a TEAM of players since the 97-98. There have been overpriced attempts to bring in guys, but only half-hearted attempts to resign their own free agents. The Caps ownership has been looking at the 'Skins and learning the wrong lessons.

Posted by: Lord Throg | February 2, 2007 9:54 AM | Report abuse

Hanlon and Kolzig do a good job of getting these young guys with minimal talent (excepting a few obvious guys of course) to play hard most nights.

That works well earlier in the season when teams aren't playing "gotta get into the playoffs" intensity hockey.

But come January and February, when teams are fighting hard to either make the playoffs or position themselves well in the playoffs, hard work isn't enough to overcome superior talent.

This has been the pattern for years in Washington. This year was a better because the team actually got off to a good start, which is unusual, but the rest of the pattern holds.

Ted and GMGM need to spend some money on some talent, or this merry go round will never stop.

Posted by: dcdirewolf | February 2, 2007 9:57 AM | Report abuse

That's what she said.

Posted by: Michael Scott | February 2, 2007 10:05 AM | Report abuse

I'm shocked, SHOCKED I tell you, to find that there is grumbling amidst the cap "faithful". C'mon Tarik - we all know why the team isn't playing well. But they had even less talent last year and at least worked hard most nights. If you take the pulse after a hard-fought loss to the Senators, the level of vitriol is somewhat diminished. But after a third straight lackluster performance against a bad team...what do YOU expect? Yes, most of the blame should be directed toward management (Ted and George) - but last I checked even the least paid players on this team are still earning a tidy sum...and are technically professionals.

Frankly, I'm shocked that you are shocked. Do the message boards usually tilt toward bi-polarism? Certainly. But they are message boards...frequented by people for whom the game (and the team) rises beyond that of the casual fan. When I stand a better chance of scoring with Scarlet Johansson than the Caps do on a 5 on 3 powerplay...then scorn and disdain are not only understandable...but necessary!

Posted by: Dan - Washington DC | February 2, 2007 10:07 AM | Report abuse

"About five weeks ago, I wrote a blog item entitled "You Get What You Pay For". It made a few folks in the front office -- and one owner -- pretty angry. Funny, I haven't heard from any of them lately. Guys, my email address hasn't changed."

POW! Right in the kisser!

Posted by: PG-13 | February 2, 2007 10:09 AM | Report abuse

I'm not so sure about the level of talent either - late last year and early this year, the Caps proved they can play with the best teams with the right amount of effort and strategy. The last couple months, though, I haven't witnessed the work ethic that so impressed us last year. Last year was much more palatable, because we expected a crap team, but they turned out to be competitive with their effort. This year, there's not that effort.

There's gotta be a problem with Hanlon. Last year I was surprised by his ability to turn a group of nobodies into a hard-working team. But one's gotta wonder this year what's wrong with the power play - how can a unit with zubrus, ovechkin, and semin be so disastrous. Half the time they have trouble even getting over the blue line while a man up!! There are only a couple times this year I've seen them actually set up on the power play, and this inability to take advantage is what is killing the Caps - like 2 long PPs against Ottawa that were completely blown. If Hanlon can't get production out of these stars with the man advantage, the Caps need to find someone who can.

Posted by: katzistan | February 2, 2007 10:10 AM | Report abuse

i couldnt agree more

Posted by: rchckncoop | February 2, 2007 10:18 AM | Report abuse

What did I expect? I expected at least marginal improvement. This team is moving backwards projecting to finish with as many or fewer points than last year.
I hope Ted saved a lot of money. If not, he shouldn't worry, he will save plenty when the team folds.

Posted by: ECL | February 2, 2007 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Tarik, great post, followed by some great discussion.

Here's how I see it. Caps fans suggesting things like firing Hanlon, keel hauling Sutherby, firing GMGM, etc aren't looking at the big picture. They've got a short-term view and thing that there's a quick fix to it all.

There isn't.

The Caps are in a long term plan (their second such plan in the last decade). They've got youth, and lack of experience. The team is competitive (usually), and pieces are slowly falling into place.

For the last five or six years, there was a serious lack of depth in the organization. There were no 'players of tommorrow' in the AHL for the Caps. That depth is exposed when injuries hit. When things are going well, the Caps barely have a full NHL roster, when injuries hit, they must rely on AHL guys who are two, three years away from being NHL regulars. Some of those guys have proven worthy, some have proved that they're in the AHL for a reason.

There are no quick fixes, that's a fact. The team will have ups and downs, that's the reality until the organization depth matures.

Posted by: Kim | February 2, 2007 10:26 AM | Report abuse

Hi caphcky!

Posted by: Netsrak | February 2, 2007 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Kim, your voice of reason is not welcome here, as it's not "sky is falling" mania in response to "I told you so" "journalism" resulting from message board trolling.

Posted by: J.P. | February 2, 2007 10:31 AM | Report abuse

The level of outrage displayed just coincides with that fact that people now realize that, following last night's game, the season is now over again. Another painful rebuilding year that is trying everyone's patience. I on the other hand remain willing to be patient. With this season will come the opportunity to make another top five pick in the draft to join Backstrom next season. Jump on the bandwagon now because a year from now we'll be singing a different tune.

Capital Fanatic
http://www.capitalfanatic.com

Posted by: Capital Fanatic | February 2, 2007 10:34 AM | Report abuse

There's ups and then there's downs. Right now the Caps are in the downs. Better defense sure would help a lot, but better to get it in the offseason via free agency than via trade this month.

Posted by: Steve in Jersey | February 2, 2007 10:35 AM | Report abuse

I agree with your thoughts Tarik. I'm desperate for Ted and GMGM to bring in some defensive experience. I certainly appreciate the fact that players like Ovechkin and Semin will cause our overall payroll number to rise significantly, but two electrifying forwards does not a Stanley Cup (or playoff run) make.

Every year when I have to make the decision to re-up for season tickets the choice gets tougher and tougher. Not only is it a financial burden, but I'm also faced to contemplate the very possible outcome of watching us finish somewhere in the bottom of the Eastern Conference (again). We are not going to attract strong attendance and season ticket sales with perennial seasons like this one. We need to win to improve our attendance and financial numbers. But we need to spend to win. Chicken or egg?

The bar was set in the off season to make the playoffs. I'd like to see some accountability for this not happening. Not so much from the coaching or management side, but on player personnel moves.

While we've been treated to some good games this year at home, watching our recent road games has been as enjoyable as a colonoscopy. Clearly our team, and particularly our D-men, are outmatched out there.

Players like Zubrus, Clark, Gordon, Pettinger... I love them... and I hope they stay. But I'm underwhelmed by Eminger, Nycholat, Clymer, Bradley (when he plays), and even Pothier at times. And I don't know how we'll ever get Semin to stop making ridiculous and dangerous moves when he is on the powerplay. Ugh!

Sorry - just had to vent. I love the Caps and take the realization of "we are definitely out of the playoffs," very hard. Keep up the good work Tarik.

Posted by: Chris | February 2, 2007 10:35 AM | Report abuse

STOP with the "we've got a team full of guys who give 100% every night."

We all know thats just Lameonsis speak!

Posted by: caphcky | February 2, 2007 10:36 AM | Report abuse

Tarik, I appreciate this kind of coverage. There's a half a season left give or take, and something has to change. The Caps knew what they had two months into the season. Guys are being asked to play more minutes than they should, and Hanlon has had them overachieving for quite some time, including most of last season. Something certainly seems to be taking its toll since the holiday break. Obviously there are glaring holes up the middle (lack of playmaking) and insufficient experience at the blueline, with no reserves. How do you bench a guy for poor play if he's all you have? We're also seeing system issues. Many of our call ups have some jump in their game to start with (Nycholat) and then once they're up in our system for awhile, the life seems sucked out of their play. Perhaps again, too much is being asked of them. Sometimes I can't tell if most of the team is chipping the puck along the boards (even on a 5 on 3) because they're told to, or if they just really can't pass. Last season I thought our team was just a giant third line (gritty but offensively anemic), but I wonder now if they're just being asked to play like one to make up not just for rookies, but guys that shouldn't be in the lineup. The team that came back after the Holiday break can't even establish a forecheck until the waning minutes of the third period, if then. People may be wondering what's going on with coach Hanlon, but honestly, he can't work miracles forever. I see fans in the seats and a winning team as a type of symbiosis. One can only exist so long without the other. This 'rebuild' is being done on the cheap and conservatively. Many fans (if not already) are probably feeling the same way about their cash.

Posted by: atnight | February 2, 2007 10:44 AM | Report abuse

I seriously hope that the people who frequent the washingtoncaps.com message boards aren't thought of as being representative of the fan base. Those people generally make me ashamed to be a Caps fan.

Posted by: zamboni | February 2, 2007 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Well, I think managment's complete failure to significantly upgrade the defense is the achilles heel for this team.

You cannot compete for the playoffs with a blueline made up of 2 old retreads (Heward, Muir) 2 Career AHLers (Nycholat, Erskine) 4 talented but inexperienced youngsters (Morrissonn, Eminger, Green, Schultz) and one solid defensemen #3 defenseman being unfairly asked to play the role of a #1.

This just isn't going to get the job done. They need to suck it up a spend money on a legitimate #1 or #2 defenseman and another #3 or #4 defenseman. I am sure the older guys and AHLers back there are great lockerroom guys, but they don't have the talent to cut it.

If they fail yet again to address this problem they can kiss the playoffs goodbye next season as well.

Posted by: C-A-P-S | February 2, 2007 10:53 AM | Report abuse

I totally agree "You Get What You Pay For" but in many cases the Caps get noting. Signing Johnson, an average AHL goaltender (at best) for two years is as stupid. Time go get rid of bargain basement talent such as Sutherby, Clymer, Muir, Heward, Johnson, Beech and Bradley. Also, Olie lets in far too many softies and is overpaid. When was Olie's last shutout...2004? I doubt any team would take these guys on normal waivers, re-entry maybe. This team has two stars, two above average forwards, 3-4 average D, an aging goon and that's about it.

Also, maybe a real NHL coach such as Pat Burns to install a true NHL system and get the most out of the talent the Caps have.

Also, if the overweight owner doesn't want to spend money, sell the team.

Posted by: dossier | February 2, 2007 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Hi caphcky!

Posted by: WrldSeriesOrrBust | February 2, 2007 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Attendance? Renewing season tickets? Paying $50 to see this team? Peter Angelos is abother one (together with the Caps management) who always complains about attendance. "We don't raise ticket prices, so we don't buy good players. We need more fans to get good players" he might say something along those lines. Basically, it means "I will not improve the product until people start buying more of it." The same goes to the Caps. You will NOT see more fans on the stands with a team losing miserably to the likes of (with all due respect) the Coyotes, the Panthers et al. Why is it that the Pens with an even lower salary cap are doing so much better? The future looks brighter for them. Could the mix of new young blood with the veteran experience and knowledge do the trick? Maybe GMGM should talk to his Pittsburgh counterpart and get a crash course.

Posted by: Finn | February 2, 2007 11:04 AM | Report abuse

this team blows

Posted by: this team blows | February 2, 2007 11:05 AM | Report abuse

People, let's be honest here - IF the Caps even MADE the playoffs this year, how far would they even go? It's time to stop the playoff talk, what's one round and more disappointment anyway?

Posted by: DeepFreeze | February 2, 2007 11:07 AM | Report abuse

IF the team even HAD a chance to get there, there would be a reason to show up and pay the $50. What's the reason now?

Posted by: Finn | February 2, 2007 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Come along and don't let depression take over ( talkin' about silver lining :-)

http://alexovetjkin.blogspot.com/

Posted by: Alex | February 2, 2007 11:43 AM | Report abuse

All right everyone, step away from the ledge...

I'd rather see the Caps do the right thing and suffer through the rest of this season (and likely the next) if the rewards are perennial Stanley Cup/playoff contender for the next decade and beyond.

We have to figure out which of our many prospects will stay and then plug the holes. I think this off season is the time...I can make it through this season.

But, it's unfortunate the our holes are #1 dman and #1 center. And I would be pretty peeved if GMGM and Ted sold us Backstrom as the #1 center next year.

Posted by: dinoflint | February 2, 2007 11:45 AM | Report abuse

The playoffs are somewhat beside the point, in all honesty. Expectations of making them were quaint but you've got to walk before you run...you've got to be consistent before you can hope to finish in the top 8 in the East.

That consistency, confidence & determination isn't there as often as it should be and I think that's why many fans are dismayed by the product that they see on the ice.

My conservative hope for the season was measured progress and measured development for the team as a whole. There is measured progress being made in many team statistical categories but that improvement is being erased of late due to poor, poor play and wide stretches of the team pulling a disappearing act.

Posted by: IDL | February 2, 2007 11:49 AM | Report abuse

WE ARE CAPITALS SUPPORTERS - WE COMPLAIN, THEREFORE WE ARE!

...but seriously, what really bothers me about the current Caps is a lack of mental toughness - score first on them (particularly early in a match, as happened last night) or score short-handed on them, and they just wilt and it's all uphill the rest of the way.

Posted by: Lukashenko | February 2, 2007 11:53 AM | Report abuse

"I seriously hope that the people who frequent the washingtoncaps.com message boards aren't thought of as being representative of the fan base. Those people generally make me ashamed to be a Caps fan."

ROFLMAO....Preach on my brother from another mother!


Posted by: caphcky | February 2, 2007 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Keep up the good work Tarik. Go on there after a big win some time. See how funny it is when everyone is convinced we're going to win the Stanley Cup.

On another note, it's a shame the people that come on here and post a link to their blogs just to get more traffic.

http://bettmanhateshockey.blogspot.com

Posted by: FS | February 2, 2007 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Wow, I don't remember anyone being so touchy after Saturday's game. Chill out people, in the end it's still just a game. I doubt anyone in management is under the illusion that they can make something great out of the team they have right now. I think we've all seen just how important Pothier was to the blue line earlier this year. Hopefully he can get back in the lineup by next week and settle things down.

I think a better question would be "Why hasn't Brash gotten into any fights of late?" You'd think someone would want him to try and get the team fired up a bit more.

Posted by: EricS | February 2, 2007 12:04 PM | Report abuse

It's a bigger shame that people follow those links.

Posted by: anon | February 2, 2007 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Tarik,
You really seem to have stirred the pot with that post! Good job!

Is anyone else REALLY afraid of what's going to happen this Saturday at 1 p.m.?

-james

Posted by: James | February 2, 2007 12:06 PM | Report abuse

In one of the earlier posts I said that I am TERRIFIED of what Crosby & Co will do to our boys!

Posted by: Finn | February 2, 2007 12:16 PM | Report abuse

This years team should have showed improvement over last years 2nd half team - it has not, even with Semin. All teams have injuries right now, fine reason, bad excuse. Ted gave GMGM the go ahead and we have a young bench warmer that might produce in a few years...hope the Alex's are not tired of DC by then

Posted by: Blueice | February 2, 2007 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Tarik - I could not agree more. If this bunch of misfits actually gets in the tournament, Hanlon is coach of the year, and has probably saved McPhee's job. No one is getting more out of less. Even those of us out here in the desert can see that. There isn't a bona fide top 3 defenseman on the team; and only one proven NHL sniper. And yet they are right in it w/ 30 to go. Few teams work harder night in and night out. If they fire Hanlon, please send him to Phoenix - we need a real coach out here.

Posted by: Todd | February 2, 2007 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Tarik: you're being more than a tad hypocritical. A few weeks ago, you were touting the Caps as a possible playoff team. Now, when they are in a funk, you pull an I told you so about their talent. Bad form guy.

Posted by: Joe | February 2, 2007 12:24 PM | Report abuse

What is your user name on the offical message boards Tarik?

Posted by: Tarik El-Bashir | February 2, 2007 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Tarik,
I have to say, we kind of were asking ourselves the same question, close to the same time. I agree with most of what you have to say here. I posted this thread on the Caps boards, basically asking the same question. http://boards.washingtoncaps.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=48631

In it, I ask: "And I mean the ones that are all upset because the playoffs are quickly slipping away. Did anyone REALLY HONESTLY EXPECT the CAPS to MAKE the playoffs this season????

I really am just curious. I just do not understand why so many here (there) are soooo incredibly heartbroken / upset/ pissed off, that the caps may not make the post season this year."

I too really am curious as to why so many are so upset by this. The answers are now appearing in that thread I think, as its approaching 50 responses. I havent read it yet, but im very curious to see whats been said by my fellow Capitals faithful.

However, that said, I do agree that things really need to start to move/ change for the better, and much more quickly at this point. How many more "career years" of Ovechkin, Semin, and possibly others such as Clark and Zubrus are we going to waste in a rebuild that is seeming to become kind of stagnant?

Thats it from me for now. Keep up the great work !

~ DCF

Posted by: Diehard_Caps_Fan | February 2, 2007 12:34 PM | Report abuse

So then, are the Philadelphia Flyers getting what they paid for? Did the Carolina Hurricanes get what they paid for last season when they won the Stanley Cup with a payroll that was lower than more than 20 other NHL teams? And if they did, then did the 20 teams with higher payrolls get what they paid for?

It's never as simple as the money, and it certainly isn't in this case, either.

Posted by: Jimbo | February 2, 2007 12:43 PM | Report abuse

The Flyers' GM and coach paid for the flop. Will it happen here?

Posted by: Finn | February 2, 2007 12:47 PM | Report abuse

It's gotta be so frustrating for you Tarik, to be the only journalist in Washington DC to care about the Caps, while the city is teeming with countless "sports journalists" spewing the same worthless, redundant analysis of the Redskins.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 2, 2007 12:47 PM | Report abuse

"The Flyers' GM and coach paid for the flop. Will it happen here?"

Doubt that...Ted Lameonsis made the bed, now he's gotta lay in it!

Posted by: caphcky | February 2, 2007 12:52 PM | Report abuse

I think that it is reasonable to say 'you get what you pay for' in this instance, though its got to hurt a lot of people on a lot of levels. Kudos for teh truth, no matter how hard it is to here. You have no responsibility to tow the company line. Actually, Tarik, your job is to comment on all aspects of the company, including the towing of their own line.

Moving on, I have felt (for the past 2 seasons) that Lemieux was correct and that he did something the Caps should have followed. He made sure he had a veteran D (granted, it was Gonchar, who i would take now in a heart beat) and a few veteran forwards. Leclair didn't work out like they had hoped (even they knew that) but Recchi has made his presence known and that has helped the youngbloods develop. They learn from the elite. No offense to Heward or Muir, whom I admire, but our young D needed an established vet to mentor them. THey should have paid whatever Chara wanted and outbid the Bruins for him for that simple reason: building from within means great teachers on and off the ice. I think Hanlon has done a great job with what he has to work with, as has Bruce in Hershey.

Next, it is irrisponsible to have a great player like Ovechkin and stunt his growth rather than bring in another great player (center) to play with him. I like Zubrus and would keep him, but he is not nor ever will be an elite first line center. Thats not his fault. He makes a very good 2nd line center. Still, when you get an Ovechkin or Crosby you should try to surround them with other players who can help hone their skills. We don't need another 1st round project this year. We need a top flight vet.

In closing, the Caps lose to florida because the defense does not have the solid force fronting them, like Stevens did, or Jovo did in Van, or Foote did in Colorado. If this team had 3 solid d men and then Morrison, Green and the new guy (Pothier is #3, no higher) they would fair much better with so many muckers and grinders. Clymer aint havin a good year, but that doesn't mean he, Sutherby and Bradley should have to shut down an opposing line and make up for the unexperienced defensmen.

Build it and they will come. Save money and they will abandon you and maybe never come back. Not the path I would have taken. But what do I know; I'm no billionaire.

Posted by: Kerplunk | February 2, 2007 12:54 PM | Report abuse

I don't know why everyone is getting upset, Mr. T. Leonsis & General G. Mcphee has told everyone the plan for the next couple of years. I am just like everyone else I want the Caps to be successful and I want it yesterday!! But at the same time I have seen the Caps try to buy a championship and it has gotten nowhere and I blame that era on peer pressure from D. Synder. I am prepared to wait another year if that is what it is going to take to build a contending team year in and year-out. My only question how do we get the redskins to buy into a philosophy.

So everybody might as well get comfy it is going to be a long Spring/Summer until my next season of dying hope arrives!

Posted by: dodah19 | February 2, 2007 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Kerplunk
~applause~

Posted by: Finn | February 2, 2007 1:00 PM | Report abuse

By the way, the best thing to happen to the Pens was Recchi winning a cup last year with Carolina and then going back to Pitt. Now all the guys are saying "how do we do that, Mike?" and feeding off of that knowledge and energy. I said last year when he headed back to the Pens that only good was going to come of that. They could actually make the playoffs this year.

Posted by: Kerplunk | February 2, 2007 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Spot on Tarik. List of non-NHLers (not exhaustive): Sutherby is just not a talented player; Bradley skates like a penguin; Gordon needs to find a helmet that fits and then report to the ECHL; Laich - I still don't see why he has a spot on the Caps; Muir - at least he is injured; Larry Nicholat needs to catch the bus with Gordon; Johnson, who thought it was a good idea to sign him to an extension; Clymer is confused...

We need Fehr and Flash to stay up at the NHL level, even Steckel can be more useful than Gordon. And hope that Erskine gets back soon.

Posted by: cal | February 2, 2007 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Finn:

Thank you, than you! You're too kind, too kind...
(bowing profusely, underwear showing)

Posted by: Kerplunk | February 2, 2007 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Oh and I forgot...


"Hi caphcky!"

DCF

Posted by: Diehard_Caps_Fan | February 2, 2007 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Oh and I forgot...


"Hi caphcky!"

~ DCF

Posted by: Diehard_Caps_Fan | February 2, 2007 1:43 PM | Report abuse

For anyone who doubts Bäckström (I am a Swede so I will spell it correctly) is not a strong #1 center here are a few statistics from Elitserien (Sweden's top league, who was pleased with the lockout since we got a whole bunch of the NHL players). 11 Goals, 27 assists in 40 games (places him 13th on the list for points), wins a majority of his faceoffs at age 19. Top rookie last year, solid team leader this year. He might flop in the NHL (Jörgen Jonsson sucked in the NHL and is probably one of the best players in Elitserien and on the Swedish National team, helping leading them to Olympic and World Championship golds last year), but I believe that with the time he will get and the quality of the young players on the Caps he will flourish.

This season has shown flashes of brillance for the Caps, if they get 1-2 solid defenseman (I miss Johansson and Witt) and if Bäckström does what we hope I believe that the Caps have the formula right. Offense isn't too big a worry in my mind, protect Kölzig more and improvement comes with it. When the Caps were a defense-minded team they made the play-offs every year, when they traded for Jagr they tried to press a offense-based system which flopped and ruined the base of the team. Now there is a clean slate and the Caps are trying again and I believe they are being smarter. Hopefully in the off season they will be thinking, defense defense defense. Even the Pens, with their extremly talented young offense, have a few good defenseman onboard (everytime I read about them and Gonchar is mentioned I get tears in my eyes) to even things out.

Isn't anyone else relieved that, with Kölzig getting older, that Brent Johnson is looking like a strong heir to the traditionally strong goalie position? And when I say traditionally I mean Kölzig and Carrey, I am not old enough to remember farther back.

Posted by: Qué Lynt | February 2, 2007 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Time to create a new plan Leonsis. Your minor league team isn't ever going to be ready as you might have planned/hoped. The new NHL is about speed and skill, and your lacking in both area's. You've now had time to analyze what the new NHL is going to be all about. Are you upset because you're still paying for Jagr, and realized you can't spend like Danny?

I'm upset because Leonsis buys the team and wants instant gratification, so he buys up talent only to learn later that this is a failed strategy... so he dumps everything and goes ultra-conversative hoping for a salary-cap and a patient DC hockey crowd. Now he sees that the DC hockey crowd (attendance wise) isn't going to float his boat. He waits for Abe Pollin to pass so he can buy the Wiztards (his goal all along). GMGM can't do anything because he can't spend... at least until Jagr is paid off.

Leonsis - attendance will not increase under your current strategy, so revenue's wont increase either. It's a pickle, but ignoring the problem is driving all Caps fans up the wall, squandering Ovie & Semin... and keeping butts out of Verizon Center seats. I haven't seen any effort from Capitals ownership to create a better on-ice product (new practice facility does what again?). Relying totally on the draft (which they've done 3 years now) doesn't create a playoff team. Look at the Hurricane's/Lightnight... you need a mix of veteran's/young guys. Plus the Caps' have essentially the worst (overall) luck of all teams in the draft save Ovie.

Posted by: True? | February 2, 2007 2:16 PM | Report abuse

2 questions:

1. when does Jagr's salary finally get off the books? if it's right after this season, does Ted intend to spend all of that money on new aqcuisitions, or will he keep the spending levels about the same.

2. Usually the beat reporters strictly report on facts, events, etc., and leave these opinion articles to columnists like Mike Wise (although maybe none of the columnists care about the Caps enough to devote a column to them anymore). Is there a explicit intent to use your blog as an opinion column? It's interesting since it sounds like it's already negatively affected your ability to get scoops from the front office.

Posted by: pat | February 2, 2007 2:25 PM | Report abuse

The trade yesterday was complete BS why would you trade for this guy when GMGM has to know the Caps arent making the playoffs? Why not let Schultz show what he can do for the rest of the year.

I agree with everyone who wants to see Fleischman up at the NHL level. I do not see the sense in playing a guy like Bradley over Flash. I also disagree with Bradley et al being non-NHL caliber players. All of those guys could play on pretty much any team just as a 4th line guy and because the Caps have so many of the same type of players, they come off as useless.

We will all see how serious McPhee and Leonsis are in the summer. Hopefully we make a serious run at either Briere or Drury, whoever Buffalo gets rid of.

Posted by: Mike P | February 2, 2007 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Tarik,

You are right. The pain is the dashing of hope that came after the ealry Canadian road trip and subsequent stretch run. That had everyone thinking "this is the year" for playoffs, etc.

Now, it's just a matter of re-setting expectations to something more realistic. The Caps are a joy right now, even if inconsistent.

The team is bursting with gritty and talented young players. Part of that means no experience and depth at D. Well, that's going to take some time.

Note the Caps are top ten in the league in scoring per game. Ovie and Semin are 21 and 22, and are both in the top five / top ten scorers in the league -- neither has peaked.

So, we are in great shape. I wish the Skins played with the same grit, and had the same youth.

Posted by: Reality Checker | February 2, 2007 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Tarik, this is obviously a great post.

I agree with a lot of the observations that have been made above. I think the passion in this thread is the thing to which some heed ought to be paid by the Caps organization. We keep hearing that the Caps need another 3000 season ticket holders. Well, frankly the Caps aren't going to generate those sales with a couple of world-class stars surrounded by a bargain-bin supporting cast, and this is not the "fault of the fans" who aren't coming out. Existing hockey fans are already coming out. You can't develop new ones with a mediocre product in this market. The target audience doesn't understand hockey in the first place. They do understand winning and losing, though, and they understand mediocrity. In my opinion, management has to either accept more risk -- meaning they have to invest more in a product they aren't 100% sure they can sell -- or alternatively continue with a strategy in which the team may one day make it over the hump IF and only if they get very, very lucky. I agree with all the posts that talk about how winning does not correlate with spending. In this case, though, we're not talking about winning the Cup, and we're not really even talking about winning this season; we're talking about eventually being one of eight teams in the East that goes to the dance. At that level, winning and losing may correlate a lot more closely with the investment the team is willing to make.

Management has asked the fans to invest, both in terms of dollars and caring. I suspect that most of the existing hockey fans here have done that, and frankly one risk to management becomes whether continuing on the same path is going to alienate even diehards who are paying NHL prices for a mostly AHL product. The longer term risk may be that A.O. spends ten years in a Montreal sweater, starting as soon as he becomes a free agent because nobody here cared enough to do what was necessary to keep him around, but that's a discussion for a day that I expect is several seasons away.

Asking for patience isn't unfair, but "what the fans expect," in short, is management will make an effort to put a product on the ice that's worthy of their attention. The sense of many fans that management's efforts have been lackluster is one of the big reasons, in my opinion, for the strong reaction this thread has generated.

As an aside, I think Hanlon has done an incredible job with the hand he's been dealt. Whether he can do the same with different and hopefully better talent remains to be seen -- he's not had that chance yet.

Posted by: Fred | February 2, 2007 2:40 PM | Report abuse

For years, this team was always mediocre. Good enough to get into the playoffs but never good enough to get past the first or second round. Mediocrity gets you NOTHING in the nhl. You get an early playoff exit and a bad draft pick. Yay! Personally, I got sick of this routine year-in and year-out.

The goal here is not to make the playoffs, it is to WIN in the playoffs. And that's going to take a lot more than a couple of good players bought by spending some cash on the payroll at this moment. This team is many pieces away from being a CUP contender, and you can't just go out and buy those pieces.

I'm willing to wait... unfortunately, most folks on the msg boards seem like they would prefer to go back to the grind of annual mediocrity.

Posted by: Burgh | February 2, 2007 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Fred: excellent response. We should assemble all the best responses, string them together and send them to Ted and GMGM. I'm interested in hearing the response.

Posted by: Kerplunk | February 2, 2007 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Jagr comes off the books this year, but that only clears up about 3.1 mil or so. It's enough to sign a decent player, but it's not going to signal a huge spending spree.

Considering the amount of money he's lost owning the Caps we should feel luck Ted even considers the team worth owning anymore. Hopefully that can al lbe worked out when Abe finally gets aroudn to selling WS&E to Ted and Ted can fianlly start doing something with the revenue that WS&E gets from the Caps.

From what I understand of this trade, this coudl be a very good deal for the team if they can motivate the new guy to step to the next level. Same goes for alot of the current Caps to who seem to have plateued.

Posted by: EricS | February 2, 2007 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Tarik,

I am not surprised we are not in the playoff hunt. I am disappointed that we're on the 7th or 8th straight year of failing to address glaring needs on the blueline and settling for waiver wire garbage, castoffs and guys over their heads. That's inexcusable.

This team is no better, and in some ways worse, than last years.

Posted by: Sapper | February 2, 2007 3:12 PM | Report abuse

I am completely disgusted. It isn't the money that is the issue.. at least not completely.. as previously posted, there are other teams with equal caliber players/coaches and are seeing much more success. This team has lost its heart!!! It's a bit much to ask the fans to endure this behavior at this point in the season after seeing how well they can play when they want to.

Posted by: CAPS8ROTYFAN | February 2, 2007 3:20 PM | Report abuse

I think it is fitting that the team is out of the playoffs. Saddens me but it is what the management deserves and why there are only about 12k of fans out for most home games (they report 13k attendance but I figure about 1k is comped). Let's stroll back memory lane for the past few seasons..... They hired then fired a rookie coach after bloating the payroll to one of the league's highest in assembling a wealth of talent, great decision there to go after a coach with no experience to save some money behind the bench. The replacment coach should have been Randy Carlisle, who is now in Anaheim enjoying a second season of legitimate Stanley Cup contending. However, Hanlon is still coaching thanks to his friendship with McPhee which stretches way back to the days in Vancouver. The buddy system really produced a great decision there. We haven't even talked about all of the "great" roster moves, but let's just save that for another day.

They lucked into Ovechkin with the lottery, everyone knew he would be the star that he is and the CAPS "braintrust" shouldn't get too much credit there. I'm tired of hearing about injuries and bad luck, every team has that but makes up for it with coaching and leadership. Simply put, until they get a new GM just be prepared for this letdown every year. Oh yeah, that Stanley Cup run was compliments of David Poile unless you want to give Brian Bellows addition the "what put us over the top" move.


Posted by: Disgruntled Fan | February 2, 2007 3:28 PM | Report abuse

I say if we have to watch AHL players, we should pay AHL prices. Can I have an AMEN?!

Posted by: In memory of #12 | February 2, 2007 3:56 PM | Report abuse

DOUBLE AMEN, but all that will do is generate the comment "we're in the middle of the pack as far as NHL salaries go. We've got a team that is tough to play against, and they play hard everynight......."

yada-yada-yada

What will be interesting to see is what the prices will look like when the team wins a playoff series in the Lameonsis era.
WATCH-OUT SKY ROCKET!

Posted by: caphcky | February 2, 2007 4:04 PM | Report abuse

SYSTEM?: What is Hanlon's "system"? You hear that word all the time, but nobody actually every says what it is.


Tarik El-Bashir: It's another way of saying forechecking strategy, defensive zone coverage strategy, etc.

Although hockey may just look like a bunch of guys skating around really fast trying to score a goal, each player actually has a specific responsibility on the ice. It's very complex and every team has its own system, although many are simply variations of the same thing.

Hope that helps.

I KNOW WHAT THE WORD "SYSTEM" MEANS. I ASKED WHAT IS HANLON'S SYSTEM.

Posted by: NO, IT DIDN'T HELP | February 2, 2007 4:13 PM | Report abuse

the state the caps are at reminds me of the old story of the young farm extension agent who goes out to see the old farmer. tells him, "if you'd just do this and that thing, you could increase your crop yield by x%." the old farmer looks at him and says, "son, i'm already farming 50% better than i know how." they are doing OK for the talent they've got. playoffs in two years, folks.

Posted by: slangist | February 2, 2007 4:25 PM | Report abuse

Thats great if your satisfied with doing OK with the talent they have.

I won't put the playoffs on a time table until they address their issues on D especially.

"hard to play against" and "giving 100% everynight may be great, but you won't go DEEP in the post season with just that on your resume.

Posted by: caphcky | February 2, 2007 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Why should Caps fans be any different from the rest of society. We're a "Want it now and want it right" world and rebuilding takes time, something most fans are short on. Everyone compares us to the Pens, but they stunk for a lot longer and as a result had the first or second choice in the draft four years in a row. All I can say if is you want to abandon ship go ahead, it will just mean shorter lines at the concession stands.

Posted by: borr4 | February 2, 2007 4:59 PM | Report abuse

I read with great amusement someone's comment "I'd say the Capitals are stocked with talent equal to Pittsburg, Tampa Bay, NY Rangers, and the NY Islanders". What are you smoking?? I can tell you as a hockey zealot and someone who reads Canadian and national hockey media religiously, that approximately zero people in North America outside of yourself feel that way. That's just a stupid comment to make, and I'm being nice. The Caps have several very good players who are obvious (Ovie, Semin, Zubrus, Ollie), then a lot of very mediocre castoffs from other teams, and people who should be seasoning in the minors and aren't ready for the NHL. There's no depth to their talent, they have a few and then it falls off steeply. Can't fire the players so some people say fire the coach: I have news, you can put Scotty Bowman back there and you can't make chicken salad out of chicken-you-know-what.

Posted by: HockeyMan | February 2, 2007 5:38 PM | Report abuse

Tarik,

Interesting post. It made me wonder about your hours. Were you out late hanging out with the "real" sports reporters in town covering the Stupor Bowl? Or do you always stay up reading the rants from the rest of us in the 400's seats?

I am wondering about the fitness of Hanlon. Yes, he has done pretty well with what he has, but the team's lack of discipline from night to night, and even period to period suggest that he is not the coach that is going to carry this team through to the playoffs year in and year out-- if they ever make them.

Also, did I miss something; has Backstrom signed? We can't count on him until he does. And if Ted and GMGM doesn't improve the roster otherwise, I am not sure that he will.

Well, get some rest, and I am looking forward to reading more.

Posted by: Clarendon | February 2, 2007 5:39 PM | Report abuse

Unfortunately, the Caps don't get the luxury of playing in the NBA, a league as godawful as I've seen it in 50 years. Let's face it, a group of five nuns could win 50 games in this year's NBA.
Now for the Caps. What's becoming painfully clear is that a bunch of muckers who do well in Hershey doesn't necessarily mean they'll do well in the bigs. This group they keep trying to bring up probably will never have the right stuff. The silver lining is to get Backstrom to come over from Sweden (keep the fingers crossed on that happening) and to get another high pick next year by finishing in the dumper. Beyond that, I feel bad for Olie, who isn't getting any younger and gets beat into the ice with so much playing time at the end of each season: I know the company line on this ("he loves the work") but it's outrageous to see the poor guy get worked to a pulp for nothing each year. It's a shame and I feel bad for him. Hopefully the can bring up the Russkie goalie sooner instead of later.

Posted by: Muskrat | February 2, 2007 6:11 PM | Report abuse

OK Tarik, a challenge for you: How would YOU spend the money? I mean specifically, not "Get a #1 D-man." Obviously the Caps need that, but this ain't Fantasy Hockey. You have to identify a few names that fit the bill, are available for trade, and want to come here. Not so easy, eh?

I'd say that, as a journalist, you normally would stay out of naming players to target. But with comments like "Funny, I haven't heard from any of them lately. Guys, my email address hasn't changed." you've moved well into the snippy-ness and unprofessionalism of fandom.

It's easy to point out problems. It's harder to suggest real solutions.

Posted by: OrderedChaos | February 2, 2007 7:04 PM | Report abuse

This is disgusting rhetoric. How about you get what you write about. How about pumping this team up instead of kicking them when they are down. This is not about money, not about the "NHL Caliber" talent. This is about heart. This team will come out with it's heart on it' chest one night and tuck it in the back pocket the next. How many years did the Rangers have one of the highest payrolls and not make the playoffs. I believe the last few winners of the Cup were low to mid salary teams. So forget about money. This team needs a wake call. Maybe doing Herbies for 90 minutes will remind them of their defensive responsibilities, playing a complete game, and standing up to be counted on. We all love watching Semin launch laser wrist shots but he has to be mindful of his defensive duty when on the PP. Let's work on a offensive strategy, dump and chase or skate it in. We have to enter the zone better and kill penalties better. Not spend more money and everyone wants a #1 puck moving D so get in line.

Posted by: Ibezamn | February 2, 2007 7:41 PM | Report abuse

Since we're spending Ted's money and substituting our judgement for GMGM....

Focusing on the blueline, nobody is going to trade a true "#1 D-man" right now, because teams that have one need them for the playoff run. It therefore becomes a question of free agents. After this sseason, Souray, Markov and Rivet are all unrestricted free agents in Montreal, and Bob Gainey has already said he can't afford to re-sign the all. In my opinion, either Souray or Markov would fill a big need. Ovie likes Markov's game, and maybe Markov would like to play with him. The point is that either of these guys could help a lot; the question is whether the Caps are willing to make those types of investments. (In fairness, the Caps were in the Chara sweepstakes up to $6 million, and $7.5 million is a pretty steep annual price tag for those services.) Anyway, there are a couple of specific names, and I assume GMGM knows others since that's his job!

There is kind of a chicken-and-egg quality to the observation that the Caps need 3000 more season ticket holders; are the Caps going to sell those tickets before investing in these kinds of players, or are you only going to get those ticket holders by first risking the investment? This is a hard business call, but I think what is being said in this thread is that fans would like to see more willingness to take risks. Obviously, it is not their decision whether to take these risks. It is, however, their decision whether to buy more seats.

Posted by: Fred | February 2, 2007 7:42 PM | Report abuse

Fred, nicely done. You're right, I think we're SOL this season for picking up big-name reliable players, but hopefully they'll take a gamble and be active in the off season (like they tried with Chara).

Posted by: OrderedChaos | February 2, 2007 8:40 PM | Report abuse

Hey, I still want to hear how Tarik would spend the money, too!

Posted by: Fred | February 2, 2007 8:49 PM | Report abuse

the goal wasn't to spend this offseason.

That has been declared from the start. chara was a pipe dream that if he came through would've accelerated the rebuild, but wasn't realistic.

Frankly, the only person in this to blame is Leonsis. For better or worse, he has decided to go the cheap route through the rebuild instead of stocking the team with a few legitimate vets on the blueline to help the absolute lack of experience.

The reason Caps fans are upset is this team is not that far off. It isn't like they're 40 points back, or getting blown out night after night. The reason the front office has egg on their faces is they probably expected the team to be poor most of the season, and instead the team was better than expected while they got superior goaltending. Not expecting the team to do that well, they didn't spend as much as they could have. 2 or 3 players (one being Backstrom) would've made the difference many nights out.

Now its the middle of the season and you can't sign FA's that will help you now. So they basically either can ride it out (what they're doing) or make a move and potentially cripple the talent pipeline they've built.

Posted by: Chimaera | February 2, 2007 9:51 PM | Report abuse

At least the Caps are two years ahead of the Nats in their rebuilding "Plan".

Posted by: PowerBoater69 | February 2, 2007 10:21 PM | Report abuse

So you didn't like my post, Tarik?

The team talked playoff hopes all through the first half of the season. And the team actually looked good. There are dark horses every year. You're surprised that some of the caps fans drank the kool aid?

Anyhow, I usually point out the positives on the caps board rather than complain.

But I only stated facts in my first and only post in that thread. It's too big a hill to climb.

Plus, is it unreasonable to think that if the team stayed healthy we would've continued to see a similar level of play for the rest of the year?

Posted by: ankhcraft | February 3, 2007 12:25 AM | Report abuse

I'm not sure anyone will get this far after like 89 posts, but here's my thoughts:

1) Unlikely though it may be, a win today against Pittsburgh and we're right back in the hunt. (and yes, I feel justified using the term "we" for a team I've supported for almost 30 years.. longer than most of the players have been alive)

2) I'd love to see this team in the playoffs this season. I don't care if they're likely to lose in the first round. Anyone who knows the Caps history knows that when they've had great teams, they choke in the playoffs. And in '98 they were a four seed. One you're in, anything can happen.

3) And by far the most important point: It should be CRYSTAL clear that the Caps need Ovechkin to remain IN WASHINGTON. I watched four over-times at my parents house on the night before Easter, and you know how that turned out. And I sat through four more overtimes at the damn Capital Centre, and you know how that turned out. I've stomached those and every other play-off disappointment and I'm still here. But if the conditions in DC get so bad that Alex wants out, I'm gone. And I think a lot of you would come with me.

Therefore, if Ovechkin's o-k with losing 24 out of the next 30 games, then so be it. But remember -- he's playing in an empty arena, for a team that's always "waiting until next season." If this keeps up Montreal or Detroit will be looking pretty good a couple years from now. If that's the case than I think Leonsis and GM owe it to us to try and find a real defenseman and make a run right now.

We have never had a player like this, never. Let's find a way to not screw this up.

Posted by: Oneal | February 3, 2007 2:11 AM | Report abuse

Love seeing OB newbies in a tizzy!

Posted by: usiel | February 3, 2007 2:44 AM | Report abuse

"I spent the past hour taking the temperature of the fan base by browsing the message boards over at www.washingtoncaps.com, just as I often do following a bad loss."

Taking the temperature of the "fan base" Are you serious? The washingtoncaps.com board is filled with about TWENTY people that post on a regular basis. How many season ticket holders are there? The folks that post on the Caps board are in no way, shape, or form representitive of the Caps "fan base". They have maybe 3 people that post there that actually know what they are talking about. The rest are just knee jerk reactionists.

As far as I am concerned (being a season ticket holder for 3 years and a fan for over 15), I am quite happy with the progression of the Capitals. I did not expect them to make the playoffs this year and will not be the least upset if they don't. The future is extremely bright for the Caps and I have had it with all the Henny Penny's. When Bakstrom arrives next year we will finally have the core of the future team in place - THEN we can start worrying about a d-man and other peices we may need.

Posted by: CMC | February 3, 2007 5:29 AM | Report abuse

"At least the Caps are two years ahead of the Nats in their rebuilding "Plan".

The Nats have a plan to rebuild. The Caps have had AT LEAST two plans under the Lameonsis watch!

Posted by: caphcky | February 3, 2007 10:00 AM | Report abuse

Tarik.. You're the MAN! "My e-mail hasn't changed guys" = Priceless! :P

But i think that a lot of people (including me) really got their hopes up during the Caps best stretch of the season (7-1-1) and now feel a bit let down..

My two cents...

Posted by: Hampus | February 3, 2007 11:04 AM | Report abuse

i think ovechkin should be traded for malkin and staal.

Posted by: usiel | February 3, 2007 2:10 PM | Report abuse

I am with CMC above on a few points:

1) Fan of the team since they Guy Charron days, the path this team is on is the right one, and yes, they have some holes to be filled.

2) The Official Washington Caps board is a joke. A large number of fans defected to priave boards and to the HF Boards a long time ago. I cannot remember the last time I checked them out, but suffice it to say, it isn't where I would go to check the pulse of the fan base.

Tarik, keep up the good work....

Posted by: apa | February 3, 2007 10:42 PM | Report abuse

Caphcky is right. This team stinks, and we tried to tell you. Tarik is dead on with his assessment.

Signed,
Caps BOD

Posted by: Caps Board of Directors | February 4, 2007 8:22 PM | Report abuse

Because a high payroll certainly is helping Philly, Boston, Toronto, and New York. I cannot believe how shortsighted you are .... sure the Caps can spend to the ceiling this year .... though it means they won't have that money available for Semin, Ovechkin, Backstrom, Fehr, Green, et all when they come off their entry level deals ......... so throw all caution to the wind and spend, spend, spend and all of our troubles will be solved.

Posted by: DMC | February 5, 2007 2:10 PM | Report abuse

As someone who has followed the Caps since their inception, I think their poor drafting is more the blame than mid-sized payrolls. The Caps have typically taken mid-to-late round talent at the top of their drafts - Kris Beech, Brian Sotherby, Owen Fussey, Todd Hornung to name a few. I hope they're taking the money they save qand putting it into better scouting.

Posted by: leetee1955 | February 6, 2007 3:44 PM | Report abuse

Tarik's comments remind me of LaConfora's excellent diagnosis two years ago of what ails the Capitals organization. Not much has changed since then, except the fortunate arrival of the Alex's. Leonsis simply is not trying to please the serious hockey fan around here. He has followed a cost containment path, hoping the casual fan will not realize they are paying to see mostly minor leaguers.

Posted by: 30 - year Caps fan displeased | February 9, 2007 7:38 PM | Report abuse

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