First of all, I just wanted to see if I could get three straight titles with a question mark.
Second, I am starting to see some similarities between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Washington Capitals. The Caps roster from 2001 - 2003 that is. A team loaded with what looked on paper like the team to beat loaded with plenty of veteran savvy and "proven" talent.
The Caps had spent the money to get Jaromir Jagr in a DC sweater, Robert Lang to compliment him, they had spent money on players like Trever Linden, Bates Battaglia, Joe Sacco, Adam Oates, and so on. The best players at the time (on paper) that were battled harden and veteran savvy themselves.
Tampa this year spent money to bring in veteran talent in Ryan Malone, Gary Roberts, Mark Recchi, goaltender Olaf Kolzig and a coach that hasn't seen the back of a bench in over a decade in Barry Melrose. The owners seem just as agressive as Ted Leonsis was so long ago getting the best players available.
There are the obvious differences. The Lightning had the number one overall pick last year and signed their pick Steve Stamkos to a three year contract. Their top talent was bred through their farm system as well, Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis pretty much bleed black and blue.
But being aggreisive this off season and signing talent that could be past their prime or being "overpaid" really going to pay off? For the Capitals, their model failed.
When the Caps spent the money to get the best possible players it could at the time, it led to either an early out or missing the playoffs all together. This from a team that had seen the Stanley Cup finals for the first time just a couple of years prior.
The excitement was palpable in DC with the signing of former rival Jagr, and players the Caps felt they could compliment him with some veteran talent. But it never worked out. The Caps changed coaches putting in a younger successful coach from the minors in Bruce Cassidy in '02 and it just got worse.
Uncle Ted and the Caps management had to change course drasticly following the debacle of the 'o3 - '04 season which led to the sell off of every heavy contract the Caps had just before the dreaded lockout.
To me, the Lighnting look a bit similar loading up their roster with, on paper, proven talent like the Caps did some 6 years ago. Time will tell if this was the right move. If the team can gel and Stamkos pays off, they have the potential of being a very good team. We certianly thought the Caps had that potential back then.