By Rodger M. Wood
Like the Marines, our theme for the Caps’ 2011-2012 season will be “acta non verba,” or “actions not words.” We’re tired of getting all fired up at the beginning of a season, only to be let down with the team’s early departure from the Stanley Cup playoffs.
After the Capitals hockey season started the season off with an overtime 4-3 win over Carolina Saturday night, Caps fans are hearing the same old song and song, “The Caps will win the Stanley Cup this season.”
The sage editors of the Hockey News are singing the same song predicting, “This will be the season the Capitals bring home the Stanley Cup.” However, without showing the heart, or mental and physical toughness the Boston Bruins did last spring while winning the prized trophy, I think we’ll be in for another long hot summer, our 36th in a row, since the Caps came into being the 1974/1975 season.
We can only hope Caps VP and GM George McPhee watched how the Bruins beat the Montreal Canadiens up in seven games last spring, the Philadelphia Flyers in four, Tampa Bay Lightning in seven, and the Vancouver Canucks in seven.
Goalie Tim Thomas, forwards Patrice Bergeron, Nathan Horton, David Krejic, Milan Lucic, Shawn Thornton, defensemen Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg, and Johnny Boychuk and the rest of the Bruins were talented, but more importantly, demonstrated they had the courage, grit, durability, mental and physical toughness to beat tough opponents.
Our Caps were more talented than the Bruins, and displayed star power during the regular season, but core stars, captain Alex Ovechkin, Nicklaus Backstrom, Alexander Semin, and Mike Green failed to show the internal fortitude necessary to win in the playoffs.
You can’t measure the heart of a hockey player or team until they are in the thick of the playoffs. During the summer, McPhee acquired some free agents, Troy Brouwer, Joel Ward, Roman Hamrlik, Jeff Halpern, and Tomas Vokoun , who look good on paper and may perform well in the regular season, but without Ovie and the core stars setting the example in the playoffs, our Cup efforts will still be futile.
Novice Caps fans, I hate to dampen your enthusiasm, but we’ve heard the same old story many times before, and won’t believe it until our Cap stars bring us home the Stanley Cup.
Winning the Stanley Cup will speak louder than any words used to drum up season ticket sales or fill up the Verizon Center stands.