The Caps collapse this spring left many of us with a bad taste in our mouths. After all the promises of a new era dawning in Washington, the team returned to the follies and choke-artistry that defined much of its playoff experience during the '80s and '90s. As a Caps fan who has been burned on more than one occasion, I simply chocked the opening round loss to the Habs as "typical Caps" and planned to spend my summer studiously avoiding them and regaining some matter of sanity.
However, players like Andrew Gordon of the Hershey Bears not only have managed to help me stow my cynicism by coming back from two games down to win the Calder Cup (a very unCaps like feat), but actually write about how next years Caps will not fall prey to the sins of this spring. Gordon, writing for the blog Russian Machine Never Breaks, makes a very interesting case for how the Caps choke job this spring might be the very event needed to transform them into Stanley Cup winners:
That’s why I believe the Caps won’t have a repeat of what happened this year. They had a great team, but couldn’t get a break. It’s a freak occurrence that happens once in a blue moon. It’s sad that it happened to them, but maybe it’s a stepping stone to greater things. I firmly believe that things happen for a reason. It may be hard to understand at the time, but I bet the Caps getting upset in this year’s playoffs lights a fire in them for years to come.
Gordon approaches the Caps situation as any sane person would, but acknowledging that no team is the same from season to season, and that history, for all the importance that we give it, means nothing in the long run:
HISTORY DOESN’T MATTER!!! Nobody in our dressing room was discouraged by the fact that nobody had ever come back from two games down. Who cares if it’s never been done? We aren’t those teams who failed before. We are in control of our own destiny, and we will make it happen our own way.
There is no manual that explains how to win a series. You just win four times before they do.
The only problem with Gordon's point is that next year's Caps will more or less be the same as those who bombed out this spring. The team will still be captained by Ovie, who will most likely still have his fellow weapons of Backstrom and Semin in his quest for the Cup. However, bring Gordon, Alzner and others from Hershey could go a long way towards overcoming the Caps penchant for collapsing in the spring, and usher in a new era of championship hockey.