PUT VARLY ON A HARLEY AND SEND HIM...AWAY
The knock on the guy of course was that he couldn't stay healthy. To put it in DC-talk, his approach in terms of his physical preparation was questionable at best. Which is funny when you consider that the exact opposite is the knock on Michal Neuvirth, at least as far as this is concerned. So we had an Odd Couple of sorts for a while as a goaltending tandem, for a while anyway.
But the guy had a way about him, no doubt. It wasn't just that he made saves or even the timing, it was the way he would make the saves. A flourish of the glove here, a fist-pump there. That confident (some would say overly so) attitude he had about him that said, "I don't care how many they shoot at me, I'm winning this game!" Olie Kolzig had that...maybe in a bit of a different sense, but he still had it.
Speaking of Kolzig, Varlamov doesn't quite rank as high as the Caps' legend, now associate goalie coach in terms of all-time greats. Still, he won one playoff series and took an eventual Stanley Cup champion to a seventh game. That's quite a bit more than many Caps' goalies of the past have accomplished, but doesn't measure up to past legends like Kolzig, Pete Peeters, and Don Beaupre. So as far as the history of the Caps is concerned, he's in the exact middle. Just had to throw that in there, being a hockey history buff and all.
No matter what you might think of him, he had his moments while with the Capitals. Quite a few, in fact. Here is a Youtube tribute made by a fan containing six minutes worth of highlights, which collectively speak louder than anything I can say. Oh yes--"The Save" is included...it shows up at 1:55. Enjoy...or not.
ARNOTT SINGS THE BLUES AND HITS A SOUR NOTE
So the one guy I was kind of hoping the Caps would keep during all this fuss goes and signs with the St. Louis Blues. I said before we needed a playoff-tested veteran to help us out and I was sure Arnott was the guy.
Therefore, I was disappointed to hear about this signing. Anyone who's followed the game knows how it works--when you're a free agent, you can do business with whoever the heck you want and I respect that. But I have to say that this makes absolutely no sense.
It makes no sense to me because I remember his sentiments being that he wanted one more shot at a Cup, and he felt the Caps were his best chance. Perhaps his last chance. Admittedly, there has been limited success, but there are a lot of true believers who believe this team is on the brink of capturing the Cup. A lot of people outside the organization like this team's chances as well. No links or other trickery to back my point up here, just going to simply point out that the Caps finish among the NHL's top teams by the end of each of the last several regular seasons.
Now I'm not knocking the Blues, mind you. They are definitely one of the league's up and coming teams and should make the playoffs this year. They made that late season trade that included Kevin Shattenkirk, a fine young rearguard. The kind that produces points from the point and plays smart--in other words, my kind of defenseman. And he's just one blue-chip youngster (no pun intended) that they will grow with.
But, barring a few huge moves, the Blues won't truly contend for a Cup until Arnott is ready to call it quits. You can't tell me there wasn't some top-contending team that could have used his services. Of course you could say that he pretty much had no choice but to leave given how the Caps were spending--on everybody but him. I'm running out of fingers to point here.....but still.
Perhaps it may not have been as if Arnott could have named his own price, but even so, there is a dearth of quality second line centers around the league. So much so that it was labeled the Caps' Problemo Numero Uno for two seasons plus. All the more baffling considering Arnott was seen as the answer to said problem.
On top of that Arnott would have been another perfect component to the more hardworking style the Caps will hopefully be implementing this season. So I'll ask you the reader, was it the piece that no longer fit or did the whole puzzle change? Let me know because I'm still trying to figure it out.
DEFICIT SPENDING IN DC? NAH...
Going to make this one short and unsweet, but even with George McPhee's talent for maintaining the books, (he did after all intern on Wall Street for a summer) is anyone else concerned about the team's payroll figure this year? Especially when you consider that, according to Capgeek.com they are in the hole? If this were three years ago would they be asking for a bailout? Could Ted Leonsis solve the government debt crisis by offering a season ticket package? I know that would convince me of doing almost anything right now.
I jest of course. But all kidding aside, being up against the cap ceiling has consequences. Consequences that can doom a team's hopes for a prosperous season. It's not as if there aren't solutions, however. Many of these solutions seem to center around Tom Poti, he of the hard luck stories you find on 6 o'clock news. These have been discussed in expert detail here at Japers Rink by JP himself. I'm actually confident that it will all work out, but it's hard not to be negative when you see that minus sign in front of the cap space figure. And with that I will quit while I'm ahead.
But not before a long-awaited joke about Jaromir Jagr that I'm sure has already been made approximately 150,000 times. We as Caps fans don't really need to as ourselves...did it really come as a surprise that he disappeared for a while? I know I wasn't surprised. Go ahead you know you want to!