You're an NHL coach. Last year your team went to the Stanley Cup finals. This year for the bulk of the season your team has led the Conference and your still leading your division, over the past 10 games your team is 4-4-2 (that's 500 hockey from a W/L perspective and a points captured perspective). You walk into work today expecting to:
A) Prepare for to tonight's game against a conference rival you are 9 points ahead of in the standings.
B) Talk to your players and explain perhaps why the GM made not bold moves but that you feel the pick-up of a RW to fill a recent hole was a solid move.
C) Talk to the GM, get fired, and pack your stuff so you can be run out of town by a supposedly "hockey savvy" but really silly local media cadre.
or D) Talk to your players and figure out why they've slumped slightly to 0.500 hockey and what minor adjustments need be made to ensure your team stays ahead of their most heated rival by at least the one point you're in front of them now and perhaps stretch your lead and get back to first in the Conference over the remaining 18 games of the season.
A logical, sane person might expect the simple answer to be A) or D), perhaps B) in a really winning a Cup is everything kind of place. Of course if you work in Ottawa and your name is John Paddock the surreal is normal and the answer was C). What can one expect in a city that feels through whatever divine right the Canadian Capital possesses related to the sport of Ice Hockey their city has more right to a player named Alexander Ovechkin, or really any good player, than Washington DC (their country's southern neighbor's capital) or really any other city with an NHL franchise. Watch out Mario Lemiuex, Sid the Kid only has a few years on his current contract and those folks in Ottawa can put an 8 and a 7 on a contract in any order he might want them too, and then they can have the hockey god(s) make him sign it, after all their is divine right involved here you know.
I have no issue with pushing for high performance and holding professional athletes or coaches "feet to the fire" when they don't preform but the truth is the Senators while starting out near perfect have slumped only down to the level of just "really good" despite a fair number of distractions. What's next? Perhaps the Red Wings should fire Mike Babcock? After all the Red Wings, despite having a five point lead over the next closest team in the league have truly "slumped of late" and are actually only 1-7-2 in their last 10 games. Of course the Red Wings organization, while I'm sure not happy about really any of the month of February have folks like Jim Devellano at the helm and can understand they will soon return to form and be well on their way to going deep in the playoffs after the team heals some from their recent spate of injuries. Of course the Red Wings Western Conference rivals might pray for a broader outbreak of the "Ottawa Stupidity Syndrome" that leads to tremendous frustration and if the Hockeytown bunch doesn't heal the management of the Red Wings get very frustrated and have a talent "sell-off" this summer. Yeah that'll happen.
Getting back into the prognostication business here's my next prediction. The Ottawa Sun begins running articles about how the Washington Capitals and DC fans don't deserve a great goalie let alone two of them and a really good third so now the rumour is Kolzig is pissed about the Huet deal. Then the story they write next:Huet has already decided Washington DC isn't "cosmopolitan enough" and want's to go back to a Canadian city where he can always get his morning paper in the "language of love, his native tongue, French". Later in the week they break a story, Huet's agent has approached Bryan Murray to see if the Sens will get rid of their current two goalies and pave the way for his return to Canada at a much higher salary then he had in Montreal. Still later in the month of March they break a story, Olie Kolzig will be hired as a goal tending consultant by the Sens when he retires since he wants to be closer to the hockey gods' Mount Olympus.
Of course the Caps follow that up with an announcement and press conference on April 2nd, with all three goalies present: Kolzig, Johnson, and Huet after beating Hurricanes 4-2 on April Fools day. At that press conference they indicate that a) they would have held the press conference the prior day but because of all the ludicrous silliness in the Ottawa Sun (a main stream media publication with perhaps only one saving grace) they couldn't hold a serious press conference on April Fool's day; b) Kolzig is announcing he will retire at the end of the season and the Caps want to announce that they will hang his number in the rafters at the 2008-2009 home opener, to thank him for all he's done for the franchise the ownership Lincoln Holdings LLC and the various foundations of the owners are donating $500,000 to Athletes Against Autism in the name of Carson Kolzig which will be used to setup a grant & fellowship program administered by NIH to fund research for autism cures and treatments; c) Huet has signed a 4 year contract with the Caps for an average of 5 Million/year; and d) Johnson who has just spent 3 weeks in Hershey tearing up the AHL and getting some playing time has resigned a 3 year contract for $2M/year; and the Caps will not seek to resign Fredric Cassivi who is a UFA at the end of the season so they are a wash on the Salary Cap as regards their goaltender salary expenses. Kolzig follows up Ted Leonsis' kind words with many of his own. First the man sometimes refered to as Godzilla because of his long limbs, highlights how much he appreciates the Capitals Organization's embrace of the charity he founded and with emotion in his voice indicates how much good it will do along with the further commitment by specific members of Lincoln Holdings to support the effort till a cure is found. He goes on to say how much he is looking forward to working with Huet, Johnson and the Caps prospect goalies Machesney, Varlamov, and Neuvirth who will be in Hershey and Charleston next season. He further indicates affection for Cassivi and hope he finds a spot on an NHL roster after such a great run at the top of the AHL for the past three seasons. He then puts forth a prediction that Ovechkin, Semin, Backstrom, Huet and his friend "Johnnie" will all be wearing Stanley Cup rings before Johnson and Huet's contracts are up or need to be extended. and Semin will be wearing Stanley Cup rings and how as a member of the coaching staff and organization he too will get one too.
LETS GO CAPS !!!! Next up the Conference Leading and Very Hot New Jersey Devils at "The Rock" in Newark.