Friday, November 21, 2008

Anniversary Of Hope

When the Washington Capitals roll into San Jose for their tilt with the Sharks tomorrow night, it is not only a game between two elite teams, but will also mark the anniversary of Bruce Boudreau's arrival to DC as the Capitals head coach.

The Caps had started the '07-'08 campaign with three straight wins, but that was the only bright spot of Glen Hanlon's reign that year. The Caps fell to last in their division and last in the conference. Fans were calling for heads to roll. George McPhee and Hanlon were both in the cross hairs as the Caps struggled to win games.

There was player dissent. Simply put, the players just sort of stopped listening to Hanlon's quiet approach. The coaching staff were preaching more defense and the Caps offensive talents were stifled. The team was going nowhere fast and a change was certain.

When Bruce Boudreau took over the Capitals after Hanlon was let go, the change was immediate. Even in the first practice, Boudreau yelled at Alex Ovechkin for making a mistake. Something Hanlon never did. And while McPhee and Ted Leonsis were defending the coaching change, the Capitals locker room changed.

The Caps went from a hard working defensive minded team to a high tempo, powerful offensive team. The quiet, reserved Hanlon was replaced by a talkative, open Boudreau. Slowly and surely the Caps began to buy into Boudreau's system and the Caps made the turn around.

From worst to first. Bruce Boudreau broke some records doing it. Boudreau was the fastest coach in club history to reach 20 wins (34 games) and 30 wins (53 games) and the first coach in NHL history to lead his team from 14th place at midseason to a playoff berth. He led his team to 17 come from behind wins. He won the Jack Adams award for NHL's top coach.

Boudreau took the reigns of the Washington Capitals November 22, 2007.

Caps Notes:

Trade talks concerning Micheal Nylander seem to be heating up. The pros to trading Nylander: Frees up cap space to pull up Karl Alzner, Quintin Laing and/or Chris Bourque. The cons: you are losing a dynamic playmaker that when properly motivated can add to the Caps powerful offense. If McPhee is interested in moving Nylander, he better get some value for it instead of just unloading his contract.

McPhee has a lot on his plate after the NHLPA filed a greivence with the Capitals for not letting player representatives in the locker room before and after games. This following the shooing of Joe Reekie from the locker room as he is employed by the players' union. The union contends it's a violation of league policy. McPhee has never permitted anyone outside media and family near the locker room areas.

Two words: Red Rockers. Alright!

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