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What If the Washington Redskins Ran the Washington Capitals?

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One Washington, D.C. sports franchise stands above all others for mismanagement. But what if the local football team ran the hockey team, too?

Photo courtesy of HomerMcFanboy.com, an awesome Washington sports blog.

On Monday, the Washington Redskins announced that they had failed to reach a new long-term deal with starting quarterback Kirk “Kurt” Cousins.

These sorts of things happen all the time, and it was not particularly unusual until about, oh, one minute later, when Redskins President and beguiling leatherface Bruce Allen revealed the specifics of the last offer the Redskins made to Cousins, and essentially threw him under the bus and smeared him as a greedy, superstar primadonna. It is now almost certain Cousins will never, ever want to re-sign with Washington, and who could blame him?

The reaction to the Redskins’ utter, complete, scorched Earth botching of their relationship with their most successful and well-liked quarterback in recent memory was predictable, infuriated, enraged, and flabbergasted.

This incompetence is nothing new for the Redskins. In fact, it’s all they’ve done for the last two-and-a-half decades. It’s what we expect. It’s on-brand. It’s like clockwork.

Which got me thinking: what if the Washington Redskins’ front office ran the Washington Capitals?

I am so, so sorry for what follows. It is all imaginary. It is not real. You will wake up from it.

2001 - Jaromir Jagr Traded to Washington

What It Was:

Fresh off of winning the NHL scoring title four straight seasons in a row, and taking home back-to-back Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins in ‘91-92, the 29 year-old Jagr had outstayed his welcome in the Steel City, and was ready to chase another championship with a club that was willing to pay what the undisputed best offensive player in the league commanded.

How the Capitals Handled It:

The Capitals, Stalin-esque “five-year plan” in hand, acquired Jagr in a trade with the Penguins that sent the Czech superstar to Washington in exchange for three prospects. The deal, the richest in NHL history at the time at eight years and $88 million, was meant to bring the Capitals one final step closer to winning their first Stanley Cup in franchise history.

Of course, we all know how that worked out. Jagr’s point production immediately fell off by a full 13 his first year in Washington, and his goals plummeted from 52 in ‘00-01 to just 31 in ‘01-02. Many accused Jagr of dogging it, playing without energy, passion, or interest in anything other than his own ever-swelling bank account, flushed with cash like some ultra-extravagant toilet.

Ultimately, Jagr lasted just two-and-a-half seasons in Washington before being run out of town to the New York Rangers on white Jofa rails. Today, the mere mention of his name among Capitals fans of a certain age elicits a chuffing reaction that approximates the sound of a stalling locomotive.

How the Redskins Would Have Handled It:

The Redskins, under the tyrannical buffoonery of Great-Value-brand-Napoleon Dan Snyder, would have offered Jagr more money. In fact, all the money. And more years. All the years.

That’s right: the Redskins-run-Capitals would have been blinded with pheromonal lust at the thought of an aging, probably-spent superstar, and would have struck a deal with the U.S. Treasury to print more money than existed in circulation, then offered it to Jagr on a silver platter made from the bones and blood of endangered pandas.

The term of the contract would have been, like the Guinness Brewery’s lease with Dublin, for 9000 years, ‘til Ragnarok, or until the Sun consumes the Earth in a fiery ball of cleansing final justice.

Then they would trade him after two years.

2004 - Alex Ovechkin Drafted by Washington

What It Was:

Hark, the herald angels sing! That sound heard coming from Russia as George W. Bush battled John Kerry for the presidency thirteen years ago was the awakening of its greatest hockey player of all time. The 18 year-old, 6’3” winger was the undisputed king of the draft class (as he had been the year before, too), and the Washington Capitals, thanks to some bubbling ping-pong lottery luck and their worst season in 26 years, found themselves with the number one overall pick.

How the Capitals Handled It:

Don’t play coy; you know what happened. The Capitals drafted Ovechkin, then extended him to what remains the richest deal in NHL history (sensing a trend, here?), worth $124 million over 13 years, or, the entire life of an 8th grader.

In the intervening years, Ovechkin has done nothing less than utterly and completely transform the franchise from a bona fide laughing-stock to one of the most competitive, beloved, feared, and successful (depending on your definition) in the NHL. Ovechkin has become the highest-scoring Russian of all-time, and has racked up a medulla oblongata-combobulating 12 all-star selections, 6 goal-scoring titles, 1 overall scoring title, 3 MVP awards (at two different positions, the first player ever to do so), over 1000 points, over 500 goals, and over 900 games played.

Whatever the length and cost of Ovechkin’s contract, it has been easily the best move in Capitals history.

How the Redskins Would Have Handled It:

As is their wont, the Redskins-cum-Caps would have traded away the number one overall pick for two third-rounders, five fourths, and a Dora the Explorer backpack full of non-regulation promotional “Sunny D” branded hockey pucks.

Then, they would use those seven draft picks to sign six kickers and a racist.

The racist would be poorly used, and blow out his knee by year three.

2015 - Braden Holtby Signs New Five-Year Deal with Washington

What It Was:

After two seasons as the Capitals’ starting goaltender, including 73 appearances in ‘14-15 and coming in fourth-place in the Vezina Trophy voting, hirsute minx Braden Holtby was due a raise.

The Capitals had a tough decision to make: pay Holtby his (considerable) moolah, let the Saskatchewan-native walk to another team on an offer sheet, or let the situation go to arbitration, risking bad blood between the two sides and the possibility of a meager short-term deal.

How the Capitals Handled It:

The situation did actually get to arbitration, with a hearing taking place in Toronto, but the two sides reached an amicable agreement the very next day, and Washington signed Holtby to a 5-year deal worth $30.5 million to be the anchor in net for the foreseeable future.

The decision has been a bigger home run than Doritos Locos Tacos and fidget spinners. Since signing the deal, Holtby has won the Vezina Trophy, finished second in the same, and won the William Jennings Trophy for the fewest goals against allowed. He’s played in 202 of Washington’s 246 games (82%), and has averaged a .923 SV% over that span.

He has been, essentially, Washington’s most reliable player (Nick Backstrom may like a word, but I digress), and his ‘16-17 playoff shortcomings aside, has earned every last cent of his zaftig contract.

How the Redskins Would Have Handled It:

Of course, that’s not how the Redskins-Capitals would have done it.

Oh, no. No, indeed. Not nearly enough bridge-burning and cowardly misdirection! The Redskins-Capitals would have first let “leak” a report from the front office that Holtby was an alcoholic, couching their betrayal and subterfuge in mock concern for “our friend Braden.”

Then, once Holtby’s trade value had been completely torpedoed and left to rot like a horseshoe crab carcass (a move that, stupidly, would hurt the Skins-Caps as well), they would insult him with a contract worth $200 and a pocketful of jawbreakers.

When Holtby (understandably) balked at such paltry restitution, the Skins-Caps would put out a passive-aggressive press release, suggesting that the rejected deal would have made Holtby the highest-paid goalie (by average jawbreakers per year) in league history.

When Holtby inevitably walked after his arbitration-decreed one-year deal, the Redskins-Capitals would sign Rick DiPietro to a six-year contract worth $19 million per season, injury-guaranteed.

2017 - Evgeny Kuznetsov Signs New Eight-Year Deal with Washington

What It Was:

The most promising young Russian in Washington since the Great Eight himself, Evgeny Kuznetsov lit the ice on fire (tough to do) for the Capitals after years and years in KHL will-he-won’t-he limbo.

But the wait for Kuznetsov was worth it, and The Boy Who Scored lived up to the hype. Kuzy the Doozy averaged 68 points per year from 2015-2017, and was the first player not named Alex Ovechkin in over a decade to lead the Capitals in scoring.

After the ‘16-17 season, with the salary cap exploding around them like a Michael Bay set, and Kuznetsov still yet a restricted free agent but in higher demand than a stoner at Taco Bell, the Capitals had to decide what their future was with the Russian center.

How the Capitals Handled It:

Choosing to do business rather than get off the pot, Washington shocked many fans by signing Kuznetsov to an eight-year deal worth $62.4 million, making him the second-highest paid player on the roster.

Capitals GM Brian MacLellan picked a bouquet of oopsie-daisies when he admitted that Kuznetsov’s threat to leave for the KHL twisted the Capitals’ arm. This upset fans, who essentially said, “Really?”

Still, the Capitals locked down their superstar neo-Backstrom at center for the better part of the next decade. Whether or not they overpaid will remain to be seen.

How the Redskins Would Have Handled It:

The Capitals, a Wholly-Owned Subsidiary of the Redskins®, would have begun with that contract, but as Kuznetsov’s hand was moving the pen towards the paper, the Skins-Caps would have slapped it out of his hand, smugly growled, “Not so fast,” and quickly swapped it out for a contract that offered him the same amount of money, concentrated into just one year.

With Kuznetsov locked down to a single-year deal, the Caps-Skins would then continue to sign him to an eight-year succession of one-year deals, octupling the total value to nearly $500 million.

Buried under a Kremlin-worth of salary, GM Bruce Allen, satisfied, would light a cheap cigar, spit contentedly, and purr, “Let’s see him go somewhere else now.”

The remaining salary cap space, all $13 million of it, would be used to sign the 21 highest-performing Mites on Ice to entry-level contracts.

The team would then be relocated to Quebec City, where the dollar is stronger.

2017 - #Jagr2DC

What It Is:

Jaromir Jagr, now the second-leading scorer in the history of the NHL, is an unrestricted free agent, and is coming off a season in which he played in all 82 games and scored 46 points and 16 goals. He is also 45 years-old, and bravely recaptured the French throne from British usurpers in the Hundred Years War.

Despite being supernaturally durable and still highly productive, Jagr has not received any calls from teams looking to sign him, and his services remain available.

Some in the Washington, D.C. area have begun a rogue grassroots campaign on social media to recruit Jagr to the Capitals, while others would sooner rather go through puberty again than re-live another Jagr-themed waking nightmare.

How the Capitals Should Handle It:

They should sign #Jagr2DC.

No, just kidding. They shouldn’t, unless Jaromir Jagr is willing to take about a 75% pay cut to play for around $1 million for a single year. Realistically, as the team begins to skew younger as it looks to the future with the signings of Kuznetsov and Andre Burakovsky (and with the noted exception of 30 year-old T.J. Oshie), signing a clergyman from the book of Exodus is probably a move in the wrong direction.

Of course, Jagr could potentially serve as a mentor and de facto development coach for promising Czech youngster Jakub Vrana, just as Ovechkin has done for Kuznetsov, but that would be a lot of money to spend on a glorified player-coach.

How the Redskins Would Handle It:

They would sign Jagr. They would sign Jagr hard.