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A Valediction: And Now That the Heartbreak Is Over April 27, 2008

Posted by CapitalSpirit in Uncategorized.

(Readers: I thought this season deserved a final send-off, and I opted to do it in verse. It’s not Shakespeare, but it is from the heart. Enjoy!–CS)

And now that the heartbreak is over, let’s look back at the things that went right.
A lot of good things were accomplished, which will linger long past Tuesday night.
Ovechkin was some revelation. Nicklas Backstrom proved what he can do.
And Semin was gold in the playoffs, while Mike Green was a force from the blue.
A club record was set in goals scored; Olie Kolzig reached three hundred wins;
And a championship banner will rise, when our new hockey season begins.
It was not, true, a Stanley Cup win, but the championship of the Southeast.
But with all Carolina’s success, it’s one thing to be proud of, at least.

And now that the heartbreak is over, let’s take pride in what good things were done.
Despite all of our early setbacks, in the end, ’twas one heck of a run.
It seemed almost too good to be true, and a wonderful way to begin,
When we opened the regular slate, with a win, and a win, and a win.
But then came one loss, then another, and it all seemed to start to go wrong.
We weren’t even out of October, yet our season looked awfully long.
The losses kept up in November, so the fans all began to get gruff.
A five-to-one loss to the Thrashers, and McPhee wisely said, “That’s enough.”
Down I-83 came Bruce Boudreau, for his NHL coaching debut.
The game was an overtime thriller. More important, the Caps won it, too.
Then came more wins, and more wins, and more! The phrase “rebuilding year” soon got squashed.
And a month after taking the reins, Boudreau’s “interim” tag got kibboshed.
January saw still more success. There seemed nothing we couldn’t achieve.
And slowly, but ever more surely, you could feel the fans start to believe.
February was not quite as kind, and the uneven play worried me.
The Caps did more losing than winning, and finished up six-four-and-three.
Came March, and some do-or-die hockey. The Caps couldn’t afford to lose more.
But the went on an absolute tear, and they finished the month ten-and-four!
Then came our three final home contests. Would we live to fight another day?
But the team did not stop believing, and won all three games going away.
The regular season was over, and the Caps had passed one monst’rous test.
They had stood in last place for so long, and then climbed from the worst to the best.

And now that the heartbreak is over, let’s consider our postseason crash.
There might be–we are Caps fans, please note–some who’ll say the whole series was trash.
No, I don’t like the outcome that much. I thought Game Seven should have been ours.
And I thought that the guys in the stripes, were instead crewing some game on Mars.
But our playoffs are over, alas, and our offseason has now begun.
Raise a toast to this Capitals team, that made this hockey season such fun.

For now that the heartbreak is over, there’s a lot we can cherish this year.
Tie the season up with a cute bow, and allow ourselves one final tear.
And now that the heartbreak is over, we can all go–for now–separate ways.
Let’s enjoy all the warmth and the light, and embrace summer’s long, lazy days.
For now that the heartbreak is over, there’s one thing I must say above all.
Be safe in your summer adventures, and come back safe and sound in the fall.
For now that the heartbreak is over, and we’re all saying our last goodbyes,
Let’s await, with anticipation, for the new hockey season to rise.
And now that the heartbreak is over, and our season now stands in recess,
Let’s believe, for when fall’s finally here, we’ll set off on the road to success.
So, now that the heartbreak is over, and ’07-’08 put to bed,
Let’s look forward to ’08-’09, and the promise of glory ahead.


Have a great summer, everyone. Be safe. I’ll continue to write over the summer, albeit less frequently. Hope to see you all back at Kettler for training camp, where the Caps will begin another thrilling season. Until then, keep up the spirit.




1. crowesnest - April 27, 2008

Yes, you’ve captured the season in rhyme.
But the Caps’ past season is truly a crime……
one or two more FA’s, and they’d still be playing.

Every year, never enough under McPhee….
just saying.

2. CapitalSpirit - April 27, 2008

Nicely done, crowes, but let’s switch to prose.

I don’t completely agree with that sentiment. Let’s say we DID go out and make some high-priced deadline rental, beyond what we already did with Cooke, Federov, and Huet. Who or what should we have given up? You can only dress so many players, and if the idea is to keep the team together as best you can, adding players willy-nilly does more harm than good.

I’ve seen this team grow, and improve dramatically, in the three years I’ve been coming to Caps games. Given how bad this team was doing on Thanksgiving Day, a division championship is no small step forward. If we’d finished with 70 points, again, I’d be screaming for McPhee’s ouster just as loud as anyone else.

But come on…Huet for, in essence, Brian Sutherby? That’s thinking long-term, and I can support that. There hasn’t been a repeat Stanley Cup champion in a very long time, and McPhee wants to do in Washington what hasn’t been done in Carolina, Anaheim, Tampa Bay, or any other market, in years.

And if you really want to blame McPhee for that Game 7 loss–when even some out-of-market scribes were questioning the officiating–welcome to it.

I know I’m in the minority here, but I don’t think McPhee is the problem.

3. Eli Resnick - April 29, 2008

Okay, you’re both a bit right. McPhee is working hard toward his goal, and for the first summer in years I have no doubt he will still be in charge come September. However, CS, you’ve got to read your comments more carefully. Crowesnest suggested the Caps needed more FA help, rather than more rental help.

In the offseason McPhee said he wanted to bring in a defenseman, and everybody expected the second coming of Rod Langway. Instead we got Tom Poti, who proved to be quite capable of playing defense, but we’re still waiting on that second coming…

As far as a comparison to Tampa, I think signing a big, tough veteran blueliner would help. Tampa, after all, won its cup based on the heroics of a superstar first overall draft pick surrounded by several second-tier offensive players, a young unknown offensive defenseman and a solid old goalie. The Caps have so far only shown a plan to equal that showing, not surpass it. A great veteran blueliner could help put them over.

Locking up Ovechkin for the long term deal was a great move in the quest to build a consistent contender, but it’s precisely because it will help the team pursue the top free agents that CrowesNest wants. Tampa has shown us that one superstar alone does not a repeat contender make. This summer, once the playoff hooplah dies down, the pressure is on GMGM to lock up Green and Huet, make favorable overtures toward Kolzig and Fedorov and get on the phone with Jovocop and Rob Blake.

After all, Tampa has just decided that it couldn’t afford an adequate supporting cast with four superstars under contract. Wouldn’t it be a shame for Washington to give up with only one?

Also, the practice of pretending the accent falls in a poetically convenient place when reader and author agree it falls otherwise in practical or prosaic speech has been declining from its mild acceptability in the romantic period for at least a century.

4. NHL Videos - April 29, 2008

The Caps will be back next year. I enjoyed watching them mature this year.

5. CapitalSpirit - April 29, 2008

Wow. Eli, thank you very much for a more in depth reply than I’ve seen on this blog in quite some time. You’re making me look like a man of few words, and on my own blog, no less. I appreciate that you think I’m worth the time to type up that much of a reply. Thank you.

Now, as to free agents. A couple of our FA’s could quite conceivably hang ’em up (‘Zilla, Feds), and I seem to recall reading that Huet was still interested in playing north of the border next year.

My heart would love to see Huet as the starter, Kolzig as the backup, and Johnson either in reserve or on the market. (Good thing I’m just a fan in the nosebleeds, and can’t make such decisions.) Nothing against Johnson–the man’s a very solid backup who doesn’t mind being a backup, which is something you love to have at this level. But I doubt Kolzig will take less money and a backup job, unless he’s certain the Caps can win it all. And after the whole nameplate brouhaha, you really have to wonder. So with two goalies as open questions, and with the only netminder under contract being a backup, the net has got to be a huge priority this offseason, I should think.

And on further reflection, it does seem that Washington might indeed be a hot free agent market this summer. We’re no longer an afterthought: we’re a team whose management has shown that they want to win, and know how to build a team to do just that. Free agent interest in Washington is going to be higher than it has been in quite some time. Whether that’s enough to keep Huet and Fedorov wearing Weagles is anyone’s guess at this point. And there might very well be some FA’s who genuinely want to play here, but wouldn’t fit in the locker room. Locker-room presence is not a side issue with these Capitals, so that’s going to be a factor in offseason negotiations, as well.

McPhee’s challenge this summer is threefold: 1) keeping the heart and soul of this team together; 2) improving the team in the right way without inadvertently making it worse; 3) bringing it all in on budget so that there’s room to keep the whole team together long-term.

We know McPhee thinks ridiculously long-term. Look at last year’s draft: he brought ten picks in, drafted ten players, and still came away with ten picks in a deeper 2008 draft class. Or consider how he acquired Huet for, in effect, Brian Sutherby. (Try arranging THAT trade on your NHL video games, friends and neighbors!) I would NOT want to play poker with George McPhee, and I mean that as a sincere compliment.

So if any NHL GM can pull that trifecta–keep the core, add without subtracting, and don’t blow the budget in the process–it’s McPhee.

So while I don’t think we’ll exactly be on the sidelines in the free agent game this summer, I’d be surprised if we saw the Caps make a whole lot of big, splashy, who’d’a-thunk-it moves. I could be wrong. But with this team already within sight of being a serious Cup threat, the last thing they want to do is get too greedy and go right back to the days of always being one key player away from contention. One five-year rebuild is quite enough, thank you very much. So I know I’m in the minority here, but I wouldn’t be upset if the Caps kept their cards close to the vest.

And I did say it’s not Shakespeare, didn’t I? For that matter, it might not even be Wordsworth. Ogden Nash? Meh…–CS

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