The summer of 2010 started earlier than most any of us had anticipated, with a loss in the first round of the playoffs. Yet in that too-soon summer of a year ago, there were scraps of hope to cling to: Reminders of the early-round losses of previous Stanley Cup winners. Determined quotes from Capitals players. After a few weeks, even a curse was something we acknowledged we would look forward to.
The summer of 2011 looms long (if not quite as long as the previous off-season). There is one fact that I keep recalling — and it isn’t encouraging. It’s the one that suggests maybe Bruce Boudreau is not the guy who can lead this team to a Stanley Cup win.
What the Capitals seem to lack right now — one major thing, at least — is a leader behind the bench who can erase a history of playoff disappointment; encourage a team to fight through four tough series against playoff-ready teams full of top-level, determined talent; and match wits with the cream of the league’s coaches.
Selfishly, though, I'm more concerned with the team's fanbase than with its professional staff. What I lack, apparently, is a scrap of hope to pull me through the long summer. There are no data points I can scrape together that suggest that next year's postseason will be better than the past three-and-a-half. Or the past 36, to be honest.
I think maybe I need the Sharks to win, for my own sanity. If they continue to be the Caps of the West (or the Caps continue to be the Sharks of the East), then what hope is there for us?