The Caps made a valiant effort to get to the playoffs. They pushed hard to make it to game seven in the second round against the top-seeded Rangers, but it was not meant to be.

As with any team that has high expectations, questions about the future started surfacing immediately after the Caps were eliminated Saturday. As of Monday, we know the answers to at least two of them.

Dale Hunter no longer will be the head coach and Alexander Semin has little desire to return to the team next season.

I’m sure the Caps saw it coming with Hunter; he only signed a one year deal. Before he left, he took a struggling team and forced them to gel and play championship style hockey. But he came up short and now he’s leaving.

Semin, on the other hand, is a bit of a different story. It had seemed that he and fellow Russian Alex Ovechkin were quite comfortable together.

I guess the saying is true: Pressure can bust pipes. Semin has the right to seek greener pastures, but I don’t know enough about his situation to give a good reason why he would. Sometimes it’s just time to move on, and it’s as simple as that.

I can’t help but to wonder if these two departures will set the tone for the rest of the off season.

Many of the Capitals are under contract, so I don’t expect it to get too crazy, but it just makes you ponder why these two guys were so eager to get away from the team. Is there something going on behind the scenes that guys on this team just don’t want to be part of? If so, how many guys still under contract have no desire to return to the team?

It’s a question that I asked myself when I had time to think about what happened. Maybe it’s just Semin, who believes he was used incorrectly. But I don’t think it would be crazy to believe that other guys feel that way.

If General Manager George McPhee doesn’t already know why these two wanted to leave, he needs to make sure he finds out. If there’s a problem, he’s the one who needs to identify it and solve it.

More on the Caps:

Who could replace Hunter?

Key free agents

Boz’s reaction: Unbelievable!