Yesterday, almost like clock-work, at exactly 9 AM, the Washington Capitals fired their coach. Over the course of the last four years, Bruce Boudreau, has helmed the Capitals to four consecutive South East Conference titles, one Presidents Trophy (the most points/wins in the regular season) and a playoff appearance every single year. But with each year came the same tired result. While the regular season brought forth myriad accolades for the players and team, the trophy that they all sought, Lord Stanley’s Cup was never within reach.
I can’t say I’m surprised by the outcome. And my valiant readers shouldn’t be surprised that I feel compelled to write about it. I’ve me Coach Boudreau, more than once, I think, and he was always genuine and full of energy. What may have been his downfall was his down to earth nature. While you can see other coaches will make a clear line in the sand of what is or isn’t acceptable, Boudreau wanted to be everyone’s friend and be the nice guy. Unfortunately for Boudreau, in DC, nice guys finish last. In another place, with another club, I can imagine great success for him. But as I listened to the locker room interviews with the players, it was very clear to me what had happened.
As a fan, I have little choice but stand behind my team, the team I’ve spent a lot of time, money and heartache on, but I can’t say that I’m not disappointed. You look at players like Alexander Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, Mike Green, Nicklas Backstrom, the list goes on and on. If you follow hockey at all, these are supposedly super stars, or stars at the very least. In the regular season, stopping any one of these players from scoring should be impossible, but given this last few months, the team has been terrible. Every single man on that roster was completely and utterly disinterested in what Coach Boudreau had to say. And I find myself frustrated that a group of grown men, not boys, not children, men, can’t do their jobs.
So, for the combined salary of many millions of dollars, they just didn’t like what they were being told, and how they were being told it? And this is acceptable? It is a sad state of affairs that a group of men, talented and capable, can not follow simple instructions, or find the strength within to do what they are being paid to do.
I have always had a hard time with this issue, struggling with it in my own way. The only people to blame for the Capitals failures are the players, not the coach. And while it is easy to replace the coach, what Boudreau did in four short years can’t be discounted, and won’t. Boudreau will land on his feet, smarting from his sharp turn with the Capitals, but it is the players, the ones that remain that seemed so gleeful yesterday that are no under the gun. If they don’t ‘decide’ to play tonight, and going forward, the team won’t be the same, because the players will be held responsible, and that would be an unfortunate end to a very talented, very gifted and very unmotivated, self-righteous team.