So that’s it. It’s over. For the first time since the spring of 2007, the Washington Capitals are not in the NHL playoffs. It’s an odd feeling; one that I felt was inevitable at some point over the last three seasons, and now that it has, it’s quite empty. But it’s here. And now, it’s time to fix it.
Here are some (very early and preliminary) thoughts about this team and how to do just that.
I’m not going to go in to deep detail over what finally sunk this team to the level they are at right now. I’ve written about their problems ad nauseam over the last three years but especially this year and by now, you know what did them in: bad possession, bad coaching, bad lineup decisions, and poor roster construction. This is nothing new if you’ve read anything I have written over the last 24 months.
In reality, this team should have counted itself very lucky over the last two seasons, but particularly last year, to make the playoffs. It was their failure to realize this that has ultimately led us to this moment. Instead of being proactive and trying to fix a flawed team with deep issues, the cracks were papered over with rhetoric, public relations work, and t-shirts celebrating yet another Southeast Division Championship.
Now that the team has finally missed the playoffs for the first time since “the rebuild,” an opportunity has presented itself for real change. This means several things, including but not limited to new people in charge, up and down the totem pole. It means a new coach/coaching staff and a new general manager. Names I would consider for each position, respectively: Guy Boucher, Peter Laviolette, Dan Bylsma/Barry Trotz (should they become available); Jason Botterill, Al Macisaac, Wayne Thomas, Joe Will.