It happens every year. The Capitals don't make any significant moves (that benefit the Capitals at least) because General Manager George McPhee is stuck in salary cap hell. Why? Because when GMGM does make a move, he typically parts with his own highly touted prospects in exchange for twilight-of-their-career retread veterans with horribly expensive contracts. Rarely proven stock. Oh no. George pushes the envelope of his league mandated salary cap ceiling by stuffing the roster to the rafters with old, worn out, second-to-last, or last stop players who've already done their part for other franchises back when they were still in their prime (if they had primes to begin with). The last trade George made that visibly benefitted the Caps was when he brought in Sergei Fodorov ...in 2008!
Since GMGM has been playing the role of Oz: The All Powerful for the Caps, his teams have failed to advance beyond the second round of the playoffs. Despite boasting one of the best players on the planet in the hard-hitting, goal scoring juggernaut and 3-time MVP, Alex Ovechkin.
If you had Michael Jordan on your NBA team while he was in his prime, would you surround MJ with older, cagier, fatter, slower, injury prone players that are twice as expensive as they should be? Or would you build around Jordan by sacrificing talent and money to bring in younger, hungrier role players who want to contribute alongside Jordan for multiple seasons and not just watch from the bench as dead weight?
Exactly. And that's probably what Ovechkin is thinking, too.
Entering YEAR ELEVEN of the infamous “Five Year Plan” to get the Caps back to the Stanley Cup Finals, sooner or later you’d think owner Ted Leonsis would step in and say ‘enough is enough!’ and hand GMGM his walking papers. But Ted is a marketing guy. He knows that as long as he’s got Ovi potting goals and the Caps (usually in a rather exciting manner) barely qualifying the playoffs on an annual basis, he’ll keep selling jerseys and keep his team visible.
To the average fan, Ted looks like he’s on cruise control. Devil may care. Absent from everyday operations. Ted is becoming an owner less demanding and entirely more pedestrian as the Capitals failed hockey campaigns stack up like the endless years on a convict’s prison record. “What’s that? We may not even make the playoffs this year? I know, let’s RAISE season ticket prices for NEXT year just in case we do!” When exactly did Ted Leonsis become Dan Snyder?
It’s time the big man who strokes the paychecks follow the yellow brick road straight into George’s office and dangle a pink slip in front of GMGM as motivation over this year’s trade deadline.
And if George doesn’t make something impactful happen (i.e., shed salary and age for experience and grit), Ted should reward his faithful fans and investors with a front office that’s not afraid to make bold moves and build a team ethic that’s rooted in hard work and dedication. The “wait until next year” attitude is for the Chicago Cubs. Caps fans want to win now.
I think Ted will find that making it past the second round – and beyond – is much more satisfying to write about in his blog than having to spin yet another early round playoff exit to the readers of one of his predictably unapologetic, “we may have lost, but we’re built to compete for years to come” rants. [yawn]
The NHL Trade Deadline is tomorrow afternoon. George, you’re on the clock.
Ted, the excuses have run dry. It’s time to be an owner.