Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Enough is Enough

While I am the first one to say, I don't understand or like the trade of Zubrus to the Buffaslugs, I am even more miffed by the reaction of the fans to the news.

I understood the anguish when Peter Bondra was traded. That certainly made sense to me. Bondra had grown up in the organization and was (and still is, for now) the All-Time leading scorer for the franchise at the time of his trade. Bondra had said that he wished to finish out his career with the Caps and had deep roots in the community. Bondra had scored many big and memorable goals with the Caps, made multiple appearances in the All-Star game for the Caps, led the league in goal scoring once, and was a vital part of the team that ended up in the Stanley Cup Finals. The hurt over losing him for a prospect made sense.

But what doesn't make sense is the Funeral Home atmosphere last night at the Phone Booth. What I can't figure out is just what Dainius Zubrus did for the Caps to warrant these kinds of feelings. He played about six seasons with the Caps (less than half of what Bondra did) and never led the team in scoring or in goals. Zubrus was largely seen as a disappointment until A.O. came along last year and Zubrus finally had his "breakout" season in his ninth NHL season. But could somebody please tell me what his "signature" moment was?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that Zubrus was/is a bum. He's a good solid hockey player but nothing great. If anything he (and this reaction BTW) reminds me of Calle Johansson. It was (and in some corners still is) considered a crime against humanity that then Head Coach Bruce Cassidy (and the Sundance Kid) benched him in the 2003 playoffs despite the fact that he was the worst defenseman on the team in that series and wouldn't follow the instructions of the coaches. While we have no evidence whatsoever that Zubrus was a bad influence in the locker room (the evidence is actually the other way around, it says he was great in the locker room) Zubrus, like Johansson, never did anything of note with this franchise. No All-Star appearances. No major NHL awards.

The biggest thing that Zubrus has done for the Caps is shepparding A.O. and to some extent Alexander Semin. That isn't small potatoes but it is hardly worth hanging up a broken hearted 9 on the wall behind the Caps goal. The big question hanging over Zubrus is just how good is he? Now that he's no longer sharing a line with A.O., we'll find out. Something tells me though, we already know the answer to that and that A.O. and Semin don't need a sheppard anymore.

However, none of this excuses what the attitude of the general Caps fan is today. As I said last night, I couldn't even get in the building last night without hearing complaints and I've had enough of this. If you honestly think that George McPhee is incompetent and/or that Ted Leonsis has turned cheaper than Dishonest Abe Polin ever was; then leave. Don't come out to Verizon Center anymore. Myself and others are getting sick and tired of the constant harping from the nattering naboos of negativism out there. The games can be bad enough to watch on their own without having to hear about how bad the management of this team is.

It has been pretty clear this season that what this team needs more than a first line center or a #1 defenseman is a heaping helping dose of maturity. If you happen to know the prescription for that, not only would I but I am sure that the Capitals would like to know it as well. Signing a first line center isn't going to mature an Eric Fehr any quicker. Getting a #1 defenseman isn't going to give Steve Eminger, Mike Green, Milan Jurcina, Shaone Morrrissonnn, and Jeff Schultz the confidence and composure that comes with experience. What this team needs is time and in the process, we're going to take some some pretty big lumps.

Finally, I find it interesting that Caps fans (and Nats fans too) are complaining up and down the street that the Caps are building this team through the draft. They want the Caps go out and sign every Free Agent available and trade draft picks away for established veterans. Yet there's already a team in town that is more than willing to send $$$$$ on every Free Agent they can get. They also give up their draft picks to grab established veterans on a regular basis. However, these same fans are complaining up and down the street about how the Redskins need to stop buying Free Agents and build the team through the draft. Make up your mind people. Don't insult my intelligence and tell me how you "don't trust McPhee with draft picks" and how "there has to be a balance." You're just a fair-weather fan who has no business enjoying the victories when they finally come around and don't think I won't be here to remind you nattering naboos of negativism when the brighter days show up.

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