I’ve said my peace about this week’s trade, but I feel compelled to bring to our readers’ attention some additional commentary from one of the indisputably elite talents in the Washington sports blogging community, Homer McFanboy. This resonance of sentiment is important to this blogger partially because it represents a vantage representative of a wide (majority) swath of the Caps’ fanbase, but also because it is one necessarily not articulated by Big (gutless) Media covering the team.
(Caveat: If we include radio under the umbrella of Big Media, we exempt 106.7 the Fan’s Sky Kerstein, who yesterday morning went on air with the Junkies and said, in effect, ‘This deal doesn’t close the [gaping] gap between the Caps and the East’s elite, and therefore I don’t understand it.’)
This morning Homer is quite right I think in suggesting that a majority of hockey fans here are distressed over the deal, and his trade assessment — ‘Why Are Caps Fans So Opposed to the Martin Erat Deal?‘ — goes to the very heart of the collective angst: “I truly believe the primary reason so many Caps fans were aghast over the trade is because of what Forsberg represented — hope.” Matters footspeed don’t really matter in this context; rather, a fanbase exceedingly patient — and ever generous of wallet — armied through the turnstiles night after night this winter hopeful for the present but also understandably excited about the just-around-the-corner future. Less so, necessarily, now.
Homer picks up on the paramount context for viewing this deal that I articulated yesterday — that in all likelihood, the window of legitimate Cup contention for the initially rebuilt Caps has passed, rendering George McPhee’s Wednesday dealmaking a fool’s errand.
Homer’s spirited and principled assessment caught the attention of former Caps’ Washington Post beat reporter Jason La Canfora. La Canfora has at times this hockey season articulated his own disgust with Capitals’ management, via his Twitter account. He renewed it there this morning.
JLC doesn’t know the difference between “wreak” and “reek”, huh?
Why address substance when a spelling ticket can be issued. Sigh.
Such are the trials of writing on the Internet. Those print journalists with no comments sections have it made!
First of all, thank you for continuing to strive to provide a place for intelligent hockey conversation. It’s much appreciated. Secondly, thanks for helping to share my thoughts on the current state of the fanbase. To me, this is the most polarizing moment for the franchise since Bruce Boudreau was let go and while most people focused on the X’s and O’s, I didn’t really see anyone else come from this angle.
When evaluating this trade or any other, I think it’s important to view the various components of it accurately. There very well could be some “desperation” at play with this trade and I’m sure hoping to “sneak in” to the playoffs was a factor — even if you’re not a Cup favorite there are financial benefits to making the post-season, and an upset or more can happen if you just get to the playoffs.
But I’m confused as to why this deal would be referred to as a “rental” by anyone, as it was in the tweets above. Erat still has two years left on his deal (at a reasonable cap hit for a top six wing). The term “rental” is normally used to refer to a player whose contract is expiring at the end of the season.
Also, while he’s no longer a young player, I’m not ready to call Erat “old” at 31. From some of the pessimism I’ve seen about this deal, you’d think the Caps just gave up Forsberg for a 38 year old with little left in the tank.
The Caps have taken a big risk here. I get it. That’s not lost on me one bit. But count me as a fan who likes that they’ve taken this chance, even if Forsberg ends up being a fantastic NHL player. Perhaps the deal will help the Caps make the playoffs this season, but it’s not just about this season at all. It’s a trade meant to put a better team on the ice for this season and two more after this, if it works. Rather than waiting to see if prospects are NHL ready enough to fill the holes in the Caps line-up, one hole has now been filled with a guy who’s already proven he can do it at the NHL level. The team could have waited for the young reinforcements to arrive, but then they might have waited another year or two after that if they don’t produce right away; it’s no secret that there are many unknowns with young players. Wait long enough for them to produce and suddenly your current core is five years older.
And again, Forsberg could be great (even from the day he hits the ice in the NHL), but I’m ok with the risk because, unless he’s a once-in-a-generation guy, you can find new players to put alongside Ovechkin and the rest, but what you can’t get back is time. More on that here: http://brookslaichyear.com/2013/04/04/in-trading-for-erat-caps-mcphee-makes-a-move-with-guts/
But regardless of anyone’s opinion on the trade, I think calling it a “rental” or Erat “old” is a bit of a stretch. I also found this line in Homer McFanboy’s post to be a stretch: “Caps fans, almost universally, were irate.” There were a lot of fans that were upset, but there were a good number I saw who were ok with it too and some who didn’t know what to think about it yet. From what I read on Twitter, Facebook and blogs, I didn’t feel like I was anywhere close to the only fan who was ok with the risk the Caps took. It was a divisive issue and there were more people upset with it than ok with it, from what I saw. But “Caps fans, almost universally, were irate” strikes me as a bit extreme, much like “rental” and “old” do as descriptions of what the Caps got.
Agree with you completely, Mike. I don’t see it as desperation, since they are playing much better and as we’ve seen too often, anyone has a good chance in the NHL post-season. I hoped to see Forsberg with the Caps, too, but he’s no guarantee as a star. And even if he was, there’s no guarantee he’d have a worthy team around him in three or four years.
And any professional writer who makes the wreaks/reeks goof deserves to be called out.
Kinda like Pucksandbooks saying his “peace?”
It still boggles the mind that people who write about hockey can’t see the trend. You seriously think the Capitals are a mediocre team to play against right now? Now that they’re healthy and know their coach’s system? Really? Sure, I didn’t like giving up Forsberg, but Erat is far from “aging,” at worst he’s in his late prime. It was a fair hockey trade, future for now, not unlike lots of trades made throughout the history of sports. The Caps are playing really well, are going to get home ice in the playoffs, and are going to do some serious damage in the postseason.
So maybe it’s time to stop crying over spilled milk and get back to writing about actual hockey, not about how upset you were that we traded a guy you’ve never seen play for his second-tier club team.
Andy, I love the irony of you pointing out Pucks’ spelling error while you yourself misspelled your own website’s URL (unless you truly are “rocklthered.net” now). 🙂
@ Mike Holden, your article was a good read, nicely done. And it’s true that no one will *know* the true balance of this trade for another 3-4 years… though that doesn’t mean people can’t have opinions in the meantime.
Clearly, as a Caps fan, I hope Erat rediscovers his scoring touch here in DC and becomes the top-six LW we are missing. And I *dearly* hope this signing does not mean the Caps let Ribeiro walk away, as he’s been one of (if not the) best player on the team this season.
@MIKE RUCKI, thanks. I appreciate it.
I agree, people can definitely have opinions of this trade now. In fact, I really like reading all the views on it, especially ones that make me think harder about my perspective or that share a new angle. But when I see “rental” and “old” used in the analysis of this trade, they feel like extremes.
On Ribeiro, I think it’s all about whether they can reach an agreement that works for both parties. If GMGM wants him and gets him at the price/years that work for the Caps, I don’t see him letting the Erat acquisition get in the way. GMGM may have some other roster moves to make and tough decisions ahead, but having both on the roster is possible. I imagine the Caps front office has run through all sorts of scenarios.
It would be helpful if the grammar/syntax/usage police who visit would be correct when doling out their presumed corrections.
To “say your peace” means to say that which will satisfy some important issue or at least satisfy the need to let it be known.
To “say your piece” means simply to say “that thing you want to say.”
In my correct usage here, I had the additional objective of achieving irony.
What you gonna do, if they win the cup this time?
Would you admit that GMGM is a bit more professional, than internet bloggers and know something about his prospects, that he can’t share with public?
Was GMGM hoodwinked? Wast the motive for the trade to save his job? Does Ted ONLY care about marketing?
Maybe i’m naive, but i agree with GMGM – the time is now to win. I don’t see a huge gap, like others claim, between the Caps and the top of the East. We beat the Bruins with this ‘flawed’ team last year in 7, and came back from 3 down to win this year against them. We should have beaten the Pens a few weeks back. Is this team perfect, of course not. But i also don’t believe they are that far off. I think Erat will make a difference, they needed another legit top forward (you’ve written about that in crisis of management)
Point being, what’s done is done. George felt like we had the horses to make a run, so lets go for it, and stop the hand wringing and whining please.
This was a prospect who was a “sure fire top five pick”, until suddenly he wasn’t. He’s playing in the second division in Sweden, and it’s a big jump from there to the AHL, let alone the NHL. This move makes the second, third AND fourth lines stronger.
I’m willing to give GMGM the benefit of the doubt. Come back in 3-4 years and then we can make a verdict on the trade.
Besides, with Crosby hurt, there’s no dominant team this year. Everyone has their strengths, but pretty obvious weaknesses too. You see a chance, why not take it?
(And Pucks, I seem to recall you writing a fairly impassioned post a few years ago when it looked like the Caps would miss the playoffs stating how you couldn’t believe they were going to waste another year of Ovechkin’s prime. But now you’re OK with it?)
Like most Caps fans, I was pretty upset when I heard about the trade b/c I’ve been looking forward to the next set of young guns–Kuzya, Forsberg, Wilson, and maybe Galiev (in that order). After briefly joining the pitchfork-wielding mob of GMGM haters, I’ve cooled off and thought about it, and I’m feeling better about the deal. Allow me to explain.
A few people have pointed out that Ovi’s switch to the right leaves us pretty stacked with RWs, including both Forsberg and Wilson. I haven’t seen much commentary on how the Caps appear to be getting a little grittier (one could probably say goonier) over the course of this season. Based on the timing, I have to conclude that Oates prefers players who are able to bring some physicality to the game, and that GMGM has responded to what his new–probably last–head coach needs. See Volpatti acquisition, Oleksy call-up, significantly increased playing time for Erskine, and Rechlicz re-acquisition. Wilson is a promising young RW who plays physically, and Forsberg is a promising young RW who doesn’t. We didn’t need them both in the pipeline, and in the context of the way the rest of the roster moves have gone, keeping Wilson and dealing Forsberg isn’t all that surprising. If you’re thinking “yeah, but Forsberg is MORE promising,” I agree, but we’ll have to get over it.
A few other thoughts: Erat isn’t exactly a rental. He’s under contract for 2 more seasons, albeit an expensive one. He’s here to help us win now, but he’s not only for right now. Oates has brought about a fairly convincing renaissance in Ovi’s career, and I don’t see why the switch to the LW and to a more offensive system couldn’t bring about a noticeable uptick in Erat’s production (presumably much less dramatic, but still).
As a fanbase, can we be more patient? I know it sucks that we still haven’t won a cup. I thought we were going to at the beginnings of each of the past 4 seasons, and I have sadly, prematurely shaved my playoff beard each spring. But come on! We’ve made the playoffs every year for over half a decade, and we’re going to make the playoffs again this year. It gets a whole lot worse than this (any Skins fans out there? Orioles? Cubs?!?!), and we’re still watching an exciting team, so let’s keep it in perspective.
Finally, while I’m preaching, allow me to re-correct pucksandboots. You say your piece, and then you hold your peace.
You got your idiom wrong–very forgivably wrong, but still wrong. Don’t make it worse by being a baby.
Great comments here, really comprehensive re: the trade. Agree with Joe, that losing FF wasn’t the end of the world. Forsberg looks like he’ll develop into a finesse player, in a Caps’ system now trying to get away from developing smaller, less physical players who rely more on finesse than grit to be effective. GM finally appears to have gotten the message that a grittier team was needed to win in the post-season.
Erat, assuming he didn’t get concussed, fits in better with what the Caps want to be, as does Wilson. (Kuzzy, who knows? I’ll believe in him when he is actually over here.) Caps will be able to draft another player with their first-rounder who also has a big upside & big potential, and who fits what they want to do better. Good trade for now, good trade for the future, as well.
I disagree. I have never thought that the window was closed here. The players that we have are the players that we had, and the players that replaced them are better than the players that we had. This team as a whole IS better than those teams several years ago that won The President’s Trophy and owned the SE. They have been poorly coached, injured, and unmotivated, but they still were capable of even better than what we saw 3-4-5 years ago. And of late they have shown that. I think, had this team started the year with a regular training camp, and stayed healthy, they WOULD be among the NHL’s elite, and will be when post-season time comes.
Mike Green has been injured and not the same player he was a few years ago. Alex Ovechkin had been seemingly not in great shape, unmotivated, and poorly used by the systems, same with Nicky Backstrom plus the concussion. But the players they were were still there, they just needed something to bring it out. *I* think Oates is the guy. And I think because of his background, D is gonna take longer than O. Thisteam is clicking on offense, and Ovie looks like he hasn’t looked in 4-5 years, just a monster right now, and now tied for the league lead in goals. That move he made with the lift-check wrist shot against Florida was one of the best he’s made in years, just literally made a fool out of the defenseman AND goalie. Mike Green is moving better than ever AND taking a lot less punishment. And Nicky Backstrom is third in the league in assists. When/if the Caps get Laich and/or Erat back, they will be dangerous and deep for this post-season.
—You know what I hate about the DC area…. the pessimism. I see it with Nats’ fans after the wild series in Cincinnati, in Caps’ fans despite the fact that the team has regained the lead of the division and seem to have righted the ship, with Ovie regaining the league lead in goals (a share at least lol), Nicky dishing, and Mike Green running the show as well as ever. You do realize what a disadvantage the Caps started with this off-season, right? Redskins’ fans seem to be the only fans immune to this phenomenon, being Super Bowl bound until the moment they are mathematically eliminated.
I applaud all of the fans/bloggers for this thread. I was starting to wonder if I was the only optimistic person who follows the Caps.
I, too, believe there is more to the Forsberg trade than meets the uninformed eye. GMGM generally does not make brash trades and quite coyly avoided certain questions posed during the press conference post-deadline concerning the trade. Furthermore, those who have been calling for his head would have been equally upset had George not done anything at all, NO?
I agree with many in saying the deadline is over, the trade is done, let the chips fall as they may. Should the Caps not make the playoffs, then you can be sure that heads will roll, just as the nay-sayers eyes were/are.
In the meantime there is much puck to enjoy, and much edge-of-your-seat nail-biting intrigue to amuse even the most pessimistic red-clad teary-eyed fan.
I for one have enough homebrewed libations to last until the sun sets, and the lights are turned out on this abbreviated yet thrilling race to glory! Remember only 1 team out of 30 gets to drink out of the cup annually, here’s hoping it’s our guys.
Greetings! I know this is kinda off topic but I was wondering if you knew where I could get a captcha plugin for my comment form?
I’m using the same blog platform as yours and I’m having
trouble finding one? Thanks a lot!