I've been a Caps fan for a very long time, but to tell you the truth, I never dreamed I would see the Caps play the way they have this year. That run of wins that just ended in Montreal was amazing.
Oh, I always figured that I would see the Caps steal a Stanley Cup somewhere along the line. But I didn't think I'd ever see a Caps team as exciting, as dominant as the Islanders and Oilers I grew up with. I thought the Caps' way would always be to ride a hot goalie, good defense, and a handful of lucky goals to a championship (and hope there was no truly outstanding team out there that year). But now, the Caps are the team that's playing a different game than everyone else.
Look, I know that the Stanely Cup is the #1 goal, and nothing should detract from that. And I know there are no guarantees in the postseason, no matter how dominant a run a team has during the regular season. But that streak that just happened is something special. Something worth celebrating in and of itself.
So I'm writing to you to tell you what the streak has meant to me, and how proud I am of the team and its management. And I'm posting this letter on Japers' Rink in the hopes that others follow my lead. I hope they write to you as well, and that they post their messages to you for all to see in the comments area there below this letter.
Because we all know that you get plenty of criticism and demands in your inbox. No doubt today you'll be getting messages insisting that you instantly fire George McPhee if he doesn't immediately trade for Dan Hamhuis (or whoever the flavor of the month is). But today, I'd like to flood your inbox with praise.
Praise for a group of players who have battled for each other and whose passion has lifted to organization to new heights. Praise for a coaching staff that blends realism and optimism into a potent force. Praise for a management team that has the courage to take the long view and invest in the future even when that seems hard in the present. And praise for you, and the way your philosophy of leadership, openness, respect and integrity has infected every part of the Capitals organization and everything it touches (Hershey, the Caps blogging community, etc.)
So congratulations and well done, to the entire Capitals universe. These days, Verizon Center sounds like no arena I've ever heard before, and for good reasons. I know it could be counterproductive at this very moment for the team to stop and reflect on what they've accomplished, but I hope they know how much it's appreciated out here.
And I hope you all can manage the burden of heightened expectations. Because I don't just want to see the Caps steal a Cup anymore. I want to see an amazing run, like the Islanders, Oilers, Penguins, Avalanche, Devils, and Red Wings have had. A run where the team is in the championship mix every year for a long time. My dreams are bigger now, but people like Ovechkin, Boudreau, and, frankly, you, have a habit of making people dream bigger.
Congratulations! A streak like that may be a once-in-a-lifetime thing. Though of course, who knows -- we're only 14 straight wins from matching that club record. One game at a time...
Gould Old Days
Your turn folks. That email address is Washingtoncaps@aol.com. Let's all let him know how we feel.