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Dan Daly: Winning hockey isn’t the goal
Question of the Day
The plan Leonsis and McPhee hatched in 2003 - to hold a gigantic yard sale, unload pricey veterans for prospects and draft picks and start over - is right on course. And it all, of course, starts with Ovechkin, the most dynamic player in the game.
“He’s won all these individual awards,” Leonsis says. “Now he has to take the next step toward immortality. He has to win the Stanley Cup. And because he understands that, accepts that, it permeates everything.
“One of these days, a call is going to go our way, a puck is going to hit the post and go in. If we knock on the door enough, we’re going to win one.”
Still, in this era of salary caps, it’s going to be a challenge for the owner to keep all this young talent together - or enough of it to seriously contend, season after season. The system is set up in such a way that “every year you’re going to have a chance to [sign] good players,” McPhee says, “because other teams can’t keep everybody.”
Then, too, all this Stanley Cup talk can be dangerous in a locker room full of 20-somethings. That’s why Bruce Boudreau, the Caps’ avuncular coach, hopes his players understand that “we have nothing to be overconfident about. We didn’t win anything last year. We won one playoff series when we needed to win four.”
But the expectations are there nonetheless. And really, who would want it any different?
As always, McPhee is nervous as the season gets under way, but it’s not the same nervous as last season. “Last year,” he said, “I was wondering if we were this good - if we could win the division, if we could win in the tough spots in our conference.” He’s not worried about those things now, not after the Capitals earned the second seed in the East and won back-to-the-wall playoff games in Pittsburgh and New York.
“But I’m still nervous,” he says, “because you’re always wondering if you can make the team better… or if you’re good enough.”
They’re good enough, all right. Now we’ll find out if this is the season the Capitals knock - and Lord Stanley answers.
About the Author
Dan Daly has been writing about sports for the Washington Times since 1982. He has won numerous national and local awards, appears regularly in NFL Films’ historical features and is the co-author of “The Pro Football Chronicle,” a decade-by-decade history of the game. Follow Dan on Twitter at @dandalyonsports –- or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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