4 , 2005
This is what it's coming to
The Devils are already in salary cap hell, and a few other teams are on the way. Fan favorites and loyalty take second place to the bottom line. We got a glimpse of this in 2003-04 when the Caps traded everyone in order to prepare for the salary cap, but it's only going to get worse. Honestly, anyone who thought a salary cap would help teams keep players obviously hasn't seen an NFL roster lately. Hey, caveat emptor, folks. All you pro-cap people don't come whining here when the Hawks can't keep Daze, when the Thrashers have to trade Heatley to sign Kovalchuk, when Scott Stevens leaves the Devils, when Thornton drops the Bruins, when the Pens can't get Malkin on board, or when Iginla is traded from Calgary. Just watch over the next few years, folks, this is going to be sad.
Been a while, eh?
The nice thing about the lockout is my rants can go on the front page since it isn't filled with all that pesky hockey stuff. But just to keep in shape, I'm a little annoyed that Mannheim is switching to a new arena. They've got this great, old-school arena that is open to the outside. 1/4 seats, 1/2 standing room, 1/4 the club (inside). It gets flipping freezing, but it's always packed and my God is the atmosphere great. Drums, flags, songs, fireworks, sparklers, flares, you name it. Fits 8,000 comfortably, 12,000 if folks are standing on top of each other. Problem is the new, fully modern arena will be done in time for next year. It's like NHL-arena-lite. Very nice, very sterile, none of the atmosphere. It'll be nice to get away from frostbite, and not to have to wear four hockey jerseys to stay warm, but we'll lose the charm and old school, kick you in the teeth after they've frozen solid attitude. Sad.
27 , 2003
I've got to say, whining by Caps fans is getting on my nerves. Yeah, the team is playing like ass. Yeah, it's sometimes painful to watch them. I know that the occasional win, particularly the 4-1 or 7-1 variety, just makes it all the more frustrating. But give me a break. "Fire Cassidy!" "Fire McPhee!" "Fire Cassidy and McPhee!" "Can we fire Leonsis?" "Trade Jagr!" "No, trade Kolzig!" "No, don't trade anyone!" The people who have been complaining about the lack of young players on the roster (Blame McPhee/Wilson/Cassidy!) are now complaining that the Caps have too many young players, or the wrong ones. People who loved Ted 2 years ago now claim to hate him. All of a sudden Bondra, Kolzig, Jagr and last year's fan-fave Mike Grier are washed up. Give it a rest people. It's obvious that no one knows what the problem with the team is, so why is everyone going off half-cocked? I have to agree with Ted Leonsis here, Caps fans are part of the problem, not part of the solution right now.
Another Year In The Great Book Of Hockey
They keep saying that this could be it for hockey for a couple years. If so, I'm a little chafed, I mean, the Caps are not going to make a run at the Cup this season unless Semin is the next Pavel Bure and Stevie E. the next Rod Langway. The Caps have an interesting team, one that should be fun to watch (when we aren't groaning at defensive zone lapses), but unlikely to challenge for the top spot in the East. Colorado is stacked on offense, Detroit on defense. Ottawa is scary quick and Philly is scary big. The 'Canes aren't as bad as their record from last year says, while the Bolts ain't that good. Well, it's the usual in DC, a playoff caliber team that just doesn't have the horses to go all the way.
10 , 2003
This one hurts. Johansson isn't an All-Star player, but he's been a top 3 defenseman in the NHL for 16 years, despite playing with Langway, Stevens, Gonchar, Witt, Reekie, Klee, and Hatcher. When you talk about old-school, career-long Caps, Johansson has to be near the top of the list. Hell, who can even remember his 100 and some odd games in Buffalo? I hate the way he's leaving the team, heck, I just hate that he's leaving the team period, but at least he's staying with the organization. What else is there to say but that he will be missed. It is the end of an era. Bondra is now the last of the Caps who played significant time with Langway and Hunter, the eternal Caps icons.
At The Deadline
The trading deadline has passed and the Caps acquired.....Sergei Berezin. In and of itself this was a very good deal. He came cheap (a 4th round pick in 2004), is a viable top line forward with 20-30 goal potential, has a hell of a shot and can play special teams. He isn't great defensively, isn't physical and won't win games alone, but he is a solid player and should be valuable down the stretch drive. A lot of fans are complaining that McPhee didn't grab a top d-man, certainly a concern from this end too. The thing is, without dealing Sutherby or another top prospect there was just no way GMGM could have gotten the kind of player many people want. If the Caps are going to have a good playoff run, they'll have it whether or not Dan McGillis (or any of the other blueliners dealt at the deadline) is on board. Kolzig is the key to the Caps, followed by Jagr, Bondra, Gonchar and the young defensemen. All in all a quiet but good day in DC, sort of refreshing given the massive turnover elsewhere in the league.
February 11 , 2003
The Caps had a nice little hot streak, and have since been winning most of the games they are supposed to. They blow out teams like the Rangers and Panthers, then lose to the top teams like St. Louis and New Jersey. The Caps have the pieces to be a solid playoff team, but their up again, down again play in the regular season may hurth their chances. Consistency has always been an issue for the Capitals, for reasons that escape everyone. Despite the bad nights they are still leading their division, so no complaints about that. Here's hoping they peak at the right time.
Finally On Track
Well, the mid-season hot streak has arrived. I hate the overtime loss point, but the Caps are using them to good advantage. The next four games are huge. At home against a tough, hot Toronto team. The next night on the road at Ottawa, the best record in the league. Two days later in Boston to face the struggling Bruins, then home again for their eighth game in 13 days against division rival Carolina. The rest of the season could be determined by how the Caps do against these playoff caliber foes. Lets get our butts to MCI for the Toronto and Carolina games and support the team, those empty seats are beginning to grate on me a little...
Overheard as Tuesday's loss to the Sharks at MCI: "I'm ready to give up my season tickets", "One more game like this and I'm going to stop coming to the games", "Caps Suck! I'm cancelling my seats!" May I respectfully say, give me a freaking break already...Yeah, they're off to a lousy start, but they are only 1 game under .500. This team always starts slow, always, did we really think that a brand new coaching staff, a ton of new players and hope were going to change that? I hate it as much as anyone else, it's not much fun to watch a disjointed, uninspired team play the game, but they are coming together. We're 20 games in folks, give it a little while longer before you start running up the damn white flag...
October 9, 2002
"O" say can you see
It seems the Caps are getting too much of what they want. They sign Lang and Jagr to provide offense and it's worked. Problem is, outside of Lang, Bondra and Jags no one else is doing anything. The Caps have scored 12 goals in 5 games. 9 of those have been scored by the Big Three. 10 of the team's 21 assists have been from them as well. Simon, Grier, Zubrus, Konowalchuk, Halpern and Gonchar (the primary supporting cast) have combined for.......1 goal and 3 assists. Even worse, all of those points have been on scores where the Big Three have also gotten points. Yeah, Kono Halpie and Grier are great defensively, yeah Zubrus is looking good, yeah Simon isn't getting much ice time due to the number of PPs being doled out, but still...balanced attack, boys, balanced attack...
October 9, 2002
Oh, so very close...
I sit here a mere 4 hours from the begining of the 2002-03 NHL season and have to wonder, why the heck aren't the Caps playing tonight? Friday is two whole days away. Oh and don't get me started on the 8 game road trip. They play at home on the 11th, then go on the road until the 30th? That's such a tease! I just want to slap Abe Pollin upside the head, run his horse show out of the MCI Center and never let them back so the Caps can have a normal start to the season for once. Grumble grumble grumble...Oh, Zubrus signed, and for essentially what McPhee wanted to give him plus incentives. Everyone wins. The Caps don't pay as much if he doesn't perform, but if he does he gets what he deserves. Excellent. Now if only Niko could come to his senses...more to come later, but I need to go pick up some Molson to celebrate the return of hockey.