- Mystery sign poster hits Washington state town: ‘It’s OK to say Merry Christmas’
- Pope Francis forms commission to advise on sex abuse
- Anthony Weiner on radio? Cumulus says, ‘Never, ever’
- Executive order: Obama ups green-energy mandate on feds to 20 percent
- GOP launches candidate training: How to talk to women
- N.Y.’s Rockefeller Center lights up, as Bloomberg flicks on 76-foot Christmas tree
- Northern Ireland turns to ‘Game of Thrones’ to draw in tourists
- Washington woman live-tweets husband’s horrific car death
- China City of America mulled for New York — with $65M tax dollars
- Yemen defense ministry rocked by suicide bomber, gunfire
LOVERRO: Capitals have tools for success as they open season in new division
The Washington Capitals will embark on a new era in the franchise’s history when they open the season Tuesday in Chicago against the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks.
They will officially leave the Southeast Division behind.
The National Hockey League has buried the Southeast Division with the new realignment going into effect this season. Instead of the Capitals being in the Southeast Division, along with Carolina Hurricanes, Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington is now a member of the newly-named Metropolitan Division, along with seven other teams, including the Pittsburgh Penguins, Philadelphia Flyers, New York Rangers and New York Islanders.
On paper, this does not bode well for the Capitals, because the Southeast Division was very good to this franchise, as you can see from the seven division championship banners that hang in the rafters at the Verizon Center.
Then again, the last time the Capitals went beyond the second round of the NHL playoffs was the 1997-1998 season, when they won the Eastern Conference finals and were swept by the Detroit Red Wings in the Stanley Cup finals — the year before they entered the newly-created Southeast Division.
That was general manager George McPhee’s first year on the job, by the way.
Owner Ted Leonsis has never known anything but his Southeast Division success, purchasing the team from Abe Pollin during its first Southeast Division campaign.
I think it’s safe to say that many who care about the Washington Capitals would just as soon leave their Southeast Division legacy behind and move on to something more fulfilling. Matching their last season before the Southeast Division was created — an Eastern Conference title and a Stanley Cup finals appearance — would go a lot further than those division banners on display at Verizon.
Whether it’s the Metropolitan Division or the Southeast Division, the song remains the same — playoff failures for the Capitals during the golden era of Alex Ovechkin.
Here you have a player who has now won three Hart Trophies as the league’s Most Valuable Player, yet there is a bad taste lingering during the Ovechkin era from the team’s playoff failures — and his playoff failures.
Last year, Ovechkin won his third MVP, yet the Capitals were gone from the playoffs after losing 5-0 in Game 7 at Verizon Center to the Rangers in the first round. It was another disappointing exit, but the continued failure had a rationalization out to ease the pain — a rookie coach, Adam Oates, dealing with a major change in the way the team operated on the ice, and doing so during a shortened training camp due to the NHL lockout.
Those are all reasonable explanations for what was the typical Capitals result.
Ovechkin probably doesn’t win his third MVP without the switch from left wing to right. It was a lot for Oates to handle in his first heading coaching campaign, and in doing so he seems to have won the confidence and faith of his superstar player.
“Adam showed me everything,” Ovechkin told reporters after the announcement came of his third MVP. “It’s all about him … without him I never go to right wing, and I never go to probably that kind of position that I have right now.”
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
- LOVERRO: RG3 mentor still believes QB will be elite
- LOVERRO: Despite Bradley Beal injury, signs of hope for Wizards
- LOVERRO: Time for RG3, Mike Shanahan to stand together
- LOVERRO: The NFL games no one wanted to play
- LOVERRO: For RG3, it's not the heat, it's the humility
Latest Blog Entries
- CURL: 'Mission Accomplished' for Obamacare
- American teacher shot and killed at Benghazi international school
- 'Hunger Games' delivers Obama's message on income inequality
- NAPOLITANO: Liberty, the wellspring of capitalism and charity
- Pentagon may give recruits 'a shot to start over' after shameful social media posts
- Democratic infighting erupts over 'we can have it all' fantasy on entitlements
- Obama returns to class warfare as poll numbers plunge
- Young millennials shun Obamacare, creating risky imbalance
- Hack attack: 2 million Facebook, Twitter passwords stolen
- HARPER: 'Knockout game' not a myth to liberal Sharpton
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Television commentary, reviews, news and nonstop DVR catch-up by Lisa King Dolloff and friends.
The Constitution: Every issue, every time. No exceptions, no excuses. And how to get from here to there.
A libertarian look at breaking news and political trends by author Tom Mullen.
A stat-head’s outlook, direct from his worn in couch cushion.