So once again, after a seventh disappointing season of skating on thin ice, the Capitals are reduced to another hysterican round of poor-mouthing the fates. They must feel the first four letters in A. Pollin stand for "apologists," such is this unbecoming spring ritual that annually arrives in Washington at cherry blossom time.

To hear their party line, one would imagine that a team of unbelievable character struggled mightily against injuries, unlucky scheduling and back stabbing. I am surprised that an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court was not made to overturn some early season losses, so that the sacred 71st and 72nd points could be appended to the final total displayed next to their name.

In fact, the record of this season is plenty bad enough to convict this team of the impossible: giving hockey an even poorer name than this "sport" of tae kwan do on skates already had. If February had a reasonable number of days, like 60 instead of only 28, this team might never have won a game after Groundhog Day expired.

A losing record at home, including playing Jonah to Hartford's woeful Whalers, is a sure prescription for an early April vacation. Let us not forget that this team won only 32.5 percent of its games. It is only because those puck-headed moguls who run the NHL have decided that the pen is mightier than the stick, and have written into the rules that 76 percent of the teams that show up for all 80 games should make the "playoffs," that the Capitals are even able to hope for such a hollow achievement. In fact, with a percentile in the league so low that even the much-maligned D.C. Board of Education would have serious thoughts about whether it were a passing grade, the Caps' were fortunate their scores were not reduced to being printed only in the "Results" box on your last page.