Friday, June 08, 2007

Minor League Issues

Other Caps bloggers have spent a considerable amount of time covering the run of the Caps AHL Affiliate Hershey Bears through the AHL Playoffs. The Bears were looking to repeat as Calder Cup Champions but came up short losing in 5 games to Hamilton.

I myself kept an eye on the run but didn't get myself too mixed up into it. Why? Well if Hershey had repeated as Calder Cup Champions it would have meant to me exactly what it did last year.

Absolutely nothing.

Don't get me wrong, I don't mean to downplay the accomplishments of the Bears but as it relates to the Caps, Hershey's success has no bearing on the success of the parent club. I'm much more interested in winning Stanley Cups than Calder Cups. This past season coming off of Hershey's 2006 Calder Cup Championship, the Caps finished with the exact same amount of points and one less win than they did a year ago. Winning a second consecutive championship would have meant exactly the same thing for the Caps heading into the upcoming 2007-2008 season.

This is because there is little to no correlation between winning the Calder Cup and winning a Stanley Cup. As a matter of fact, I distinctly remember one of the more loathsome troglodytes of Darwin's Waiting Room (who got reinstated I see) telling all of us back during the lockout that the because the AHL AND ECHL affiliates of the Philadelphia Flyers had both won their championships that the Flyers had the right idea when it came to building a hockey team. This was ironclad incontrovertible proof that the Flyers would be a force to reckon with in the future and a rebirth of the Flyers dynasty was just around the corner. The Caps affiliates that year didn't do nearly as well and so this ironclad incontrovertible proof that George McPhee was a incompetent boob and as long as he and any player he brought into the system were associated with the Caps; the Caps would continue to be one of the bottom feeders of the NHL.

Seriously.

That's why I call that place Darwin's Waiting Room because that is what passes for intelligent discourse. Nevermind that this moron by his own admission had never held any kind of position with any hockey team in his life. His opinion for some reason is still rather strangely respected among the masses over there.

Of course two years later the Caps are still struggling but did anybody notice who ended up dead last this year by a comfortable 11 point margin despite having the 2005 Calder and Kelly Cups in their trophy cases?

The point of all this is that success at the AHL level and NHL level are two totally different things. What we now know is that some of the players in our system have proven everything that they can prove at the AHL level and it is time for them to now prove themselves at the NHL level. With any luck more of these guys will translate their games to the NHL than won't but the stated goals of the organization will make it difficult for these guys to prove themselves at the NHL level with the Caps.

For every player the Caps graduate from Hershey into fulltime NHL status, somebody off the current roster has to go. By my count, there are only 7 players who cannot/should not be replaced and that is certainly a little on the high side. But bringing up a Chris Bourque, a Louis Robitaille, or a Dave Steckel means somebody else has to go. And should the Caps keep their promise to bring in players via Free Agency and/or trades, it too means somebody has to go.

That isn't necessarily a bad thing simply because the Caps do need help. But bringing in a right wing from outside the organization could squeeze out an Eric Fehr. I'm of the opinion that the Caps need to let some of these young guys mature more. However, I too have never held any position of any kind with any hockey team in my life. So I am willing to defer to the judgement of the highly paid professionals until it is pretty clear that they aren't getting the job done.

And no, I don't think we've gotten there yet.

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