The Caps have had plenty of demoralizing losses this season, but Thursday night’s was likely the worst — an abysmal effort, after what seemed like a strong start, against a once-rival, with playoff hopes hanging in the balance.
The rhetoric after the loss on our Caps blog was about as dispiriting as it can get in January, and the anger bubbled up on sites like on Frozen Blog, where John Keeley wrote that “what the Capitals are, more than anything, organizationally, is a Marketing Machine,” and that “you have to market creatively when your foundation is illusory.”
Well, it just so happened that owner Ted Leonsis had a pre-scheduled appearance on WMAL Friday morning to discuss his new Monumental Network, the Wizards, and yes, the Caps. There was only one hockey question, and it concerned whether he was satisfied with Coach Adam Oates’s performance.
“Well, weâ€™re not satisfied with anyoneâ€™s performance,” Leonsis said. “Weâ€™re last in the NHL, and last night was a very demoralizing game. Itâ€™s been kind of a bellwether for what almost every game this season has been. We played a terrific first period. Pittsburgh had five shots on goal the whole period, we were up 1-0 and we were controlling the territory and the pace of play. And within 12 minutes in the second period, we took some crazy penalties, there were some soft goals, and they scored five goals in 12 minutes. We lost 5-2.
“And itâ€™s obviously not acceptable for anyone,” Leonsis continued. “The fans are very unhappy, and ownershipâ€™s very unhappy — but itâ€™s not with Adam and the coaching staff, itâ€™s with everything. Weâ€™re trying to implement a new system, and you can tell that the players are struggling with where they should be and whatâ€™s going on, but there have also been so many individual breakdowns. Yesterdayâ€™s second goal, when Adam pulled the goaltender, thatâ€™s exactly the kind of thing that we canâ€™t allow to happen. We canâ€™t let a simple goal and gift the other team a goal. It seems that every game thereâ€™s been some kind of breakdown.
“And so we play a game tomorrow night. Itâ€™s our 12th game of the season. I think thatâ€™s representative of a quarter of the season gone. And weâ€™re behind the 8-ball. Thereâ€™s not a lot of games left. I think weâ€™re two-and-a-half games out of a playoff spot, but thereâ€™s a lot of teams ahead of us. Timeâ€™s a-wastin here. And so the team, the front office, the coaching staff, the players, everyone in the organization — obviously starting with me — has to really dig deep to find out what do we have to do to improve the team, change the team, and make this season worthwhile.”