Number of People Nice Enough to Stop By....

Sunday, September 19, 2010

"RED" with Anger

Well here we are at camp has begun in earnest as the veterans reported in yesterday.  The rookies of course have already been there a few days.  Though it means pretty much nothing, they won their annual game against the Flyers' rookies 4-3 this past Thursday.  I take it back--it does mean something.  It means that the future at least looks bright.  Marcus Johansson, their number one pick from last year's draft did very well by all accounts.  Some say he'll challenge for roster spot on Opening Night. I wouldn't go that far, but if he turns out to be the real thing, the future looks good indeed.

But we all know the talk around here isn't the future, it's now.  And supposedly the Caps are  "angry":
Yeah yeah yeah.....heard it all before.  Save it for April.  Tell me how you're angry then.

Seriously though, such talk is premature (how often does THAT word get thrown around in the preseason?).
All indications are that the regular season should be another reasonably smooth ride, barring injuries and/or totally lackluster play.  The trick is to not fall asleep early on.  No no--it must be controlled fury from the get-go then turn on the jets come late April. 

The nay-sayers are already lining up on the message boards--that bastion of human civilization where people line up to post extremely witty commentary.  Let 'em.  Thirty-odd years of frustration and failure can be wiped out with one success.  Assuming this team fulfills its destiny I can still see the boards: "Still only one, other teams have won more."  "Doesn't prove anything."  I beg to differ.  It will prove that they are THIS YEAR'S CHAMPIONS.  And that's really all that matters.  And as far as "winning only one" I'm sure the Canucks, the Blues, the Kings, and several other teams that have been around for a while that have yet to win one Cup would beg to differ as well.  Not to throw all those other teams under the bus, but for some reason everyone has this hatred for the Caps.  Won't matter if AO is lifting the Cup when it's all over.

There's another issue that's makiing me red in certain parts of my anatomy (use your imagination).  Yes this is about the Eric Belanger deal.  In fact, this whole article was supposed to be about the fiasco regarding the signing that wasn't.  Except when I read the reaction of most of my brethren in Caps' fandom, it seemed to be all one big "meh."  No one seemed to care about how management once again let a quality player go.

What really bothers me though is the how.  As in how everything went down.  It just seems like he was led to believe there really was a deal in the works.  The team went as far as to arrange for tuition for Belanger's children's school.  They can say what they want about "not actually signing a deal" but if that's not dangling the bait then I have no idea what is.  Yes, I know the guy is a free agent and as such can deal with anyone he so chooses.  But dammit, if there was no deal, why were we all led to believe there was one?

Now the more I researched all sides of this mess I came to realize that, as is the truth in all divorces, not one party is completely at fault.  And, to be sure Belanger's agent Joe Tacopina is doing nothing less than making a total ass out of himself by crowing about a potential lawsuit.  Let's be clear--this "lawsuit" has no merit as there was no deal.  I know I'm not writing anything that hasn't already been mentioned.  The real sin in all of this however is that it was allowed to go this far to begin with.  And I believe Caps' management in the form of George McPhee and his lackey  assistant Don Fishman is to blame.

From here on out I'm just going to lay it all out as I see it:

1. If you want the team's side of the story, read it here
2. This phantom "trade" that was supposed to happen first and didn't is what killed the deal, according to management.  So we're just supposed to believe this when none of it can or will be substantiated?
3. Yes, the fact that "no deal was ever signed" gives the team plausible deniability.
4. No, it doesn't excuse the fact that, somehow, Belanger's camp was led to believe a deal was to be done, complete with the trappings I mentioned earlier.
5. An extension of #2--Since the trade was obviously never completed, why couldn't the team just announce that no deal could be done if that indeed was the linchpin in all of this?  You know, as in telling the truth?
6. So the team had to trade away a player to make salary cap room first?  Didn't they have a contingency plan or were they going to be content in letting Belanger walk away all along?

I guess I could keep going on about this, but I am disappointed that, in the eyes of those who scrutinize the game closely, this makes the Caps look bad.  I see no reason for the NHL to get involved, but given the ridiculous deals that have gone down before, this is the kind of thing that gives them the idea to start sniffing around.  And you know that this is going to spread amongst the players.  The true fallout from this could be far worse than any temporary bad publicity.  This episode could very well adversely affect the team's ability to land any high-profile free agents that may be needed to help the team.

I love my team, please don't get me wrong.   I want to see them succeed, and nothing could make me prouder than for that success to be achieved the right way.  I think this organization has the tools to maintain that success for a long time.  Not like Chicago, Tampa Bay, and Carolina who win the Cup one year, then blow up their team the next.  But this kind of thing happening has left a very bad taste in my mouth.  Should we as fans expect better from the hockey team that shares a city with politicians?  I think so. I just never thought Caps' management would come off like politicians--say nothing substantial, and do nothing productive.

Power play time is shift in a while.


1 comment:

  1. PS--I realize in my last article that I said that Jeff Halpern had signed with the Kings. What I meant was that that was his current team. He has recently signed a one-year deal with (gasp) the Canadiens.


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