Monday, November 28, 2011

Caps Fire Boudreau, Hire Coach with Even Worse Record Against Penguins

By GTOG Staff

His hand apparently forced by Alex Ovechkin and his highly paid, highly touted, totally uninspired band of underachieving brothers, Washington Capitals GM George McPhee fired coach Bruce Boudreau and replaced him with a guy who has a proven track record of losing playoff series against the Pittsburgh Penguins in spectacular fashion.

"Thank you Mario, may I have another?"
We're genuinely surprised it took so long. It's been nearly a full year since, after watching Boudreau address the Caps locker room during HBO's first episode of 24/7, Mrs. Artistry declared: "He's totally getting fired."  Every day that we've been able to look at the Capitals bench and see Bruce Boudreau standing behind it has brought a sense of warmth and security that we may never experience again.

"My face, head, and neck are a singular entity."
Much more on Boudreau and Hunter after the jump...

It's hard for some to say that Boudreau is a "bad" coach given his regular season success with the Caps, but it's not hard for us to say it.  As we've written before, Boudreau was incapable of getting his team to do more than one thing at a time: they were either leading the league in goals, or were focused on being a shutdown team defensively.  Not surprisingly, neither approach worked because you need to do both.  In that respect, he was way out of his league.  But the biggest flaw with the Capitals over their history has not been talent or system; it's been emotion and attitude.  They are incapable of handling success (see: countless playoff flameouts as "the favorite") and they are similarly incapable of handling failure (see: snowball effect once they lose one playoff game).  Boudreau did nothing to change this; instead, he perpetuated it.  He pumped his team's and star player's tires relentlessly when things were going well and threw everyone he could get his meathooks on under the bus at the first sign of trouble.

But the Ovechkin-era Caps' failures (to this point) do not rest on Boudreau.  The lion's share of the blame needs to go to the captain, The Great-In-Two-Thousand-And-8.  He was lauded as a young player for displaying intense passion and emotion in every regular season game and reacting to regular season goals as if he had just won the Stanley Cup.  Lost in the euphoria was the fact that the euphoria was the problem.  The NHL regular season is 82 games long, and then you have to win 16 more games to win the Cup.  If you're hurtling yourself into the boards and unleashing primitive screams when you score to put your team up 4-1 in the second period over Florida in a game in November, chances are you're going to grip your stick tighter than a Shake-Weight when you lose a Game 1 in the opening round.  Ovechkin is the definition of getting too high and too low; Boudreau was the enabler, McPhee the acquirer, and Leonsis the financier.

"Check that guy in section 412; he may have a Pittsburgh zip code on his credit card."
So with Boudreau out the door, what will Dale Hunter bring, aside from an unshakable commitment to hitting unsuspecting players from behind? It's a defensible but extremely risky choice by McPhee. Hunter will surely command respect and get a better effort out of a lineup that on paper should challenge the Penguins and Bruins in the East.  Maybe that's all that's needed.  But forget the NHL, Dale Hunter has never coached a single game at the AHL level.  Will he implement a system that will allow the Capitals to stay consistently competitive if and when they slump or sustain injuries to key players?  Does he have a coaching philosophy that goes beyond telling Sasha Semin to backcheck?  Is having the balls to take the "C" away from Alex Ovechkin really all that's needed here?  We don't know.  As the smoke clears and the dust settles in our nation's capital this morning, only one thing is clear:  Dale Hunter is a gigantic asshole.

We'll have Steelers/Chiefs GTOPG analysis coming later today.


  1. Has any recent coach, in any sport, done less with more?

  2. No, Ron. No they haven't.