It is time to change the Capitals' name to the Washington Wolf, as in the boy who cried . . . After seven years, this organization has still to learn to let the team and the games stand for themselves, and to minimize the puffery and false predictions surrounding each season.

Gary Green used the right quote, but the wrong application, when he bemoaned the absence of justice at the team's not making the playoffs. The guilty verdict should be directed at the front office, which hailed each trade as the necessary step toward playoffs status; the marketing department, which promoted ad nauseum the Caps' certainty to make the playoffs, particularly as it related to next year's season ticket sales; the arena "stage director," who insisted on greeting each Cap goal with a symphony of horns and sirens unparalleled in the NHL, plus a P.A. announcer with a shameless squeal greeting each Capital accomplishment; and Gary Green himself, guaranteeing the playoffs like some second-rate politician on election night asserting sure victory. No wonder the team's supporters felt so let down after these team representatives consistently stroked their hopes throughout the season.

Eighty games is also a very sufficient test of the relative merits of the 21 teams in the league. By begging for a couple of more games to allow the team to reach the playoffs, Green sounds like a kid who keeps asking to stay up five more minutes when it's already one hour past his bedtime. Any season that started when Jimmy Carter still was campaigning to hold on to the presidency has gone long enough to be a fair test. It is time for the Caps to go to bed for the year and their fans to dream again of another playoff fantasy next season.