Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Open Memo

TO: A.O. , Olie Kolzig, and any other Washington Capital or Washington Capitals Fan who agrees with them
FROM: Caps Nut
RE: Calling for the acquisition of unrestricted free agents in the upcoming 2007 off season and a scouting report on your upcoming opponent.

The desire for management to acquire free agents in the upcoming off season has been well documented and well noted as well. However, it is in my opinion that you should be well aware of the perils of signing free agents and expecting big results overnight.

Take for instance your next opponent, the Boston Bruins. Last season the Bruins posted a record of 29 wins and 53 losses for 74 points in the standings. The Bruins were 18 points away from a playoff spot and coincidentally, only four points better than you were last season.

After last year's disaster, which included the trading away of the #1 overall pick of the 1997 draft, Joe Thornton, the Bruins went out and signed an unrestricted free agent center, Marc Savard, and the biggest unrestricted free agent defenseman, Zdeno Chara to four and five year contracts respectively. While the Bruins are undoubtedly doing better this year than they were last year because they already have more wins (33) and points in the standings (71) than last year; I think it is safe to say that at five points out of the last playoff spot, the Bruins very likely to miss the playoffs once again this spring. Please keep that in mind during the game on Thursday night.

While your passion and desire to win is admirable, the belief that you cannot do it without additional help is quite troubling. It is well known that the team is young and inexperienced. I heard it mentioned on the radio last night that the Caps had the youngest roster in the league and that your most recent opponent, Atlanta, had the oldest. It is also well known that your oldest and most experienced defenseman, Brian Pothier, is just 29.

Furthermore, while I am violently opposed to the shootout, if the team had been able to win at least half of these gimmicks, the team would have six more wins and the points to go with them. While that would not put you back in the playoff race, a record of 10-1 as opposed to 1-10 would provide nine more wins and points and you would still be on the fringe of the playoff race. You A.O. have only scored once in 11 attempts in the shootout. While a real top line center will do wonders for your game in regulation, it will not help you in a one-on-one competition.

Because of all of this, while your goal of the making the playoffs this year was a lofty one, it was also unrealistic. Missing your stated goals is not a good excuse to complain or to give up. When one falls short of their goal, they need to work harder to attain it. Hard work improving yourself now will benefit you greatly down the road when you are a better hockey team. Take a look at a couple of teams in your division for example. The Tampa Bay Lightning missed the playoff for six straight years. They saw minimal improvement in wins and standings points from year to year and then they finally put it all together and won the Stanley Cup in 2004. The Atlanta Thrashers have a similar story only they're playing their seventh season now. They too had some rough patches and are considered by some to be a sexy dark horse pick for the upcoming playoffs.

Mr. Kolzig, you've been around the organization and the league long enough that you are considered the "Unofficial Captain" of the team. In your time here in Washington, you've seen what happens when you add star players just to add star players. You were here when the Caps added Jaromir Jagr, Mike Grier, and Robert Lang to name just a few players. As you well know, those veteran and talented teams were major disappointments. Certainly management realizes that not all needs of the team can be addressed through the draft because they have said as much since deciding to undergo a rebuilding project. However rumor has it that a certain former teammate of yours is available for a second tour of duty in Washington if the deal is right. He is a supremely talented hockey player and would certainly provide a boost for this club in the talent department. Would you be interested in another year with Jagr in your locker room?

Finally, again, we understand your frustration with the current situation. Trust me that it is no fun to come out and watch you guys lose 3-0 on home ice or travel four-five hours by bus to watch you get stoned left and right by a hot goaltender in his home arena. However, there are fans who realize that these things take time to come together. We would rather see you guys come out and give a good honest effort every night even if you lose as long as the team improves. We've seen the flashes of brilliance that you are capable of and we hope that you remember those as well and are working hard to be that team on a consistent basis.


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