In the days after Washington was swept in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, Capitals owner Ted Leonsis declined to comment on the future of either General Manager George McPhee or Coach Bruce Boudreau.
In an interview Tuesday on Mike Wise’s radio show, however, Leonsis addressed both. Here is an excerpt of the interview on 106.7 The Fan, with more to come.
Wise: So Bruce is safe?
Leonsis: It’s George’s call. George was asked that question. I think Bruce has the best record in the history of the NHL after his first 250 games. That’s pretty good....We have this innate human thing when something doesn’t meet our expectation we want punishment, we want to dole out punishment. I understand that. All I wanted is the time for us to make the right decisions the right way. I don’t think it’s via email the day after you lose in the second round of the playoffs.
Wise: So George is safe?
Last Thursday, the day after Washington’s season ended, McPhee said he expected Boudreau to be back for the 2011-12 campaign.
“I expect him to be back, yeah. He’s a good coach,” McPhee said. “Someone said he’s not a good playoff coach. There’s no difference between a playoff coach and regular season coach. Either you’re a good coach or you’re not. He’s a good coach.”
Some other highlights of the interview follow, but you can listen to the full segment here.The Capitals discussion starts roughly 11 minutes into the interview.
--In discussing the success of role players in the postseason, particularly Tampa Bay’s grinders like Sean Bergenheim and Steve Downie, Leonsis talked about what deficiencies the Capitals must try to identify this offseason:
Leonsis: “I think they key for us is to try and isolate, what are we missing when it gets really, really tough, really, really rugged, that we can’t make that push....
Wise: Do you think Ovi has anything to do with that, because of his inability to get the team over the hump as a captain? Or do you think that’s not fair?
Leonsis: “No. I think that if you’re the highest-paid player on the team and you’re the biggest star, you’re culpable. We all are. You can’t – no one is not responsible.
“I’ll be frank with you. Alex on his way to the airport called me said, ‘I’m just calling to thank you for what you’re doing for us and I apologize. What I’m doing isn’t working. I have this offseason and I’ll try a different training regimine and I hope to come in in better shape and do better. I’m going to watch a lot of film and I don’t like this feeling. I think we’re better than our playoff performance is.’”
--On holding the players accountable:
“I think we’re at that point where we have to hold all of the players we pay a lot of money to -- they’re now no longer rookies or very young — to higher standards,” Leonsis said. “I think that’s a part of a maturing organization, that you’re expected to be more of a leader. There’s a lot of conversation and activity there, because just being a really, really talented player isn’t enough to have greatness. Your off-ice or off-court conduct and habits are very important.”
--On how the Capitals try to get over the hump without overreacting or undoing the progress the team has made up to this point:
“We now have been in the playoffs for four years, we’ve seen different teams, different systems. We just need to stick with it and grind through it,” Leonsis said. “George is going to have to do that real gut check kind of person by person, line by line and try to figure out what we do. But you can’t throw in the towel. There’s a lot of just do this, do that. I think you’ll look back in hindsight, some of things people emotionally want us to do, and it would be a big mistake.”
--On how the Capitals’ next step must be playoff success:
“We’re not passing the test in the playoffs,” Leonsis said. “I don’t know what the test would have been -- second round, third round, winning the Cup. We have to be an organization that says we have to have playoff success now. We’ve accomplished a rebuild, we’ve accomplished having a perennially making the playoffs. We have a really, really good team; we just have to keep fighting, keep plugging away to get over that next hump.”