Growing, and Perhaps Salvaging, from Within

Cup'pa JoeI’ve felt a bit like the Steve Eminger of blogging the past week — a lot of action happening about the Caps, and I was a distant witness to it. It started late last Monday afternoon, when I was enduring Braveheart-like body treatment by TSA out at Dulles Airport. One final glimpse of my blackberry before boarding brought me news of Brian Sutherby being dealt. From that moment on I had a thick sense that that was merely an opening salvo by team management during the holiday week.
Resting thumbs: I was able to maintain contact with my OFB colleagues while abroad — even ocassionally during Dublin happy hours — and punch out a few blog files via a reasonably reliable hand-held. But by the weekend I was ready for a thumbs-for-ankles exchange†with Alexander Semin.
After Wednesday night’s annihilation at the hands of Atlanta I immediately messaged my bloggermates and expressed my conviction that we needed to be poised to respond to a Thursday morning news advisory, early, and likely followup presser related to Glen Hanlon. We aren’t the most mobile of bloggers these days: one has a week-old infant at home; another is a newlywed (seen outdoors these days only for procurement of life’s basics); another is rather well along in a pregnancy (not EmptyMaybe); and I was some 5,000 miles from Kettler. I didn’t imagine anyone able to bolt for Kettler on the holiday at a moment’s notice; mostly I wanted one set of eyes on email.
For a†couple of weeks before I left I struggled with restraining from blogging tidbits I’d picked up related to the state of affairs in the Caps’ room. I had only one Cap relay, on background, his sense†of Hanlon having lost the team “a while ago,” and further, that his vantage, he felt confident, was shared by “a handful” of teammates. Based on when this information arrived, I inferred that “a while ago” alluded perhaps back even to October. But background means background. But also, I personally would have needed a minimum of three Caps testifying to such views, and even then, I’d have struggled weighing the news value vs. mere tawdry tidbit angle. The last thing this team needed this month was more misery aired out, in new or old media.
To some extent, this is now an academic discussion, except in this sense: did Caps’ management react to a clearly deteriorating situation in a timely enough fashion? Frankly, I’m less concerned about playoff viability now or in the weeks ahead and more interested in knowing how effective and reliable communications channels are between players and management, so that more such situations can be avoided. Bags over heads (grateful I was to be 5,000 miles away from that) and unprecedented and disspiriting chanting in the stands should never be viable. Ron Wilson’s final year in D.C. doesn’t suggest there was†such an effective communications stream†then.
A bit more fair-game background: as things worsened in the standings and in the mood around the team I became a part of a communications flow of conspicuous support for Bruce Boudreau as Glen Hanlon’s replacement. This morning I feel sheepish for not recognizing how spot-on that sentiment was. It isn’t just that he’s gotten out of the gate with guns blazing a bit. John Walton’s Open Letter to the Caps Nation was a tour-de-force summary of†Boudreau’s sterling qualifications.
The guy’s a winner, a big-time winner, and he has a presence about any team he coaches.†I first got to speak to him†up in Portland, Maine, last season, while following the Bears on a long weekend roadtrip. I remember sitting in a dark and dank†Cumberland County Civic Center one Saturday morning and seeing Boudreau seated way up high there, near the roof, just a speck in the dark stands, while his very winning team ran its paces far down below. He†hardly ever moved or spoke.†Assistant Coach Bob Woods ran the drills. Wouldn’t a team tired from a tough game the night before let up just a little in mid-winter at 10:00 a.m. gameday skate in a cold, rundown†New England outpost? Nope. That team I saw skate that morning†was a well-oiled machine. Its members knew their leader was seated somewhere, taking it all in. They knew what he expected of them. That was the first moment I thought about Bruce Boudreau potentially having a starring role in the Caps’ organization. †††

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7 Responses to Growing, and Perhaps Salvaging, from Within

  1. Mark Tucker says:

    Can I be the first (that I know of) to make an early Jack Adams prediction? Let’s just say this…if he gets this team to the playoffs, no one will be laughing at such a scenario. I hope he is the diamond in the rough no one expects, but steals the show. Great to have you Brucie!

  2. SpartyCuse says:

    I think simple math eliminates the Caps chances of making the playoffs this year. Last year, the Isles were #8 with 92 points.
    Assuming 92 points makes the playoffs this year, the Caps have 59 games to earn 75 points, a pace of 1.27 points per game.
    If the Caps go 34-18-7 the rest of the way, they would get 75 points. And I dont think they can go on that kind of a run.
    80 points is more realistic, and would be an improvement, and a sign that the “corner” may be turned for next year.

  3. TG says:

    Instead of looking at where they “have to be” at the end of the year to make the playoffs, how about looking at it this way? Currently, they are 7 points out of 8th place with about 60 games left. Is it unreasonable to think they can make up those 7 points? No. Will it be easy? Again, no, given the number of teams between them and eighth place. But it is by no means unthinkable for them to make up those 7 points. (Of course, what does that say about the state of the Eastern Conference that the Caps are only 7 points out of the playoffs…)

  4. Smitty says:

    What TG said.
    It’s going to be a hard slog, but we’re only 7 points away from being in the thick of it, and we’ve got 4 games left to play this week.
    The bottom half of the EC, apart from the Caps, ranges between 21 and 23 points. Climbing into their midst is not out of the question at all, especially considering the fact that we play teams in that bottom half three times this week.
    Baby steps, folks. It starts by climbing over the next team up.

  5. SpartyCuse says:

    Good point(s). I had not looked at it that way, but it makes perfect sense. Its still going to be an uphill climb, but perhaps not as difficult as I thought.
    Either way, they need more wins than losses, and hopefully the losses are at least in OT.

  6. Jordan says:

    I think this team is capable of pulling into at least 8th in the east by the end of the season. Like Smitty says, we’re only a few points behind Toronto and Buffalo at this point, and if they keep losing, then the Caps are right back in it again.

  7. MulletMan says:

    Why not look at it this way. The caps have 21 more games against divisional foes. We are currently only 12pts out of the divisional lead, with a game in hand. They also only have 8 games out of conference to go, they only were scheduled for 10 games out of conference.
    I have not looked at the rest of the teams schedules, but if we can play well in conference, I still think we have a chance at the playoffs. I also think we have a possible chance at if we continue to play well and some of the other divisional teams can get a taste of the injury bug.
    Just a thought, if your going to dream, might as well, Dream Big.

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