A changing of the guard happened with the Capitals, as coach Bruce Boudreau was fired and replaced by local legend Dale Hunter.
You could chalk up the four straight years of playoff disappointments, which included three Game 7 losses at home and a sweep at the hands of a division rival, to bad luck. You could discount Alex Ovechkin's muttering of "fat f--k" to disappointment at not being put on the ice for a crucial late-game shift earlier this season.
But what you couldn't ignore -- and what Washington Capitals General Manager George McPhee ultimately didn't ignore -- were the results. A three-game road trip in mid-November saw the Caps outscored 14-3 and was capped by a 7-1 beating by the Maple Leafs that was televised throughout North America on CBC's Hockey Night in Canada. Two straight wins seemed to right the ship, but the wheels fell off over Thanksgiving weekend. On Black Friday, the Rangers waltzed into Verizon Center and won 6-3. The next night, the Caps went to Buffalo and were shellacked 5-1 by the Sabres. McPhee made his decision that Sunday, and the move was made official on Monday. Bruce Boudreau was out, Dale Hunter was in.
It was an abrupt end to the D.C. tenure of a man who had arrived in an interim capacity almost exactly four years earlier and led the Capitals to the first of four consecutive Southeast Division titles, but never managed to get past the second round of the playoffs.
It's a sign of Boudreau's esteem in the hockey world that he was only unemployed for less than three days before being hired by the Anaheim Ducks. Around here, however, he'll be remembered, in addition to all the other things, for his gregarious nature in local TV commercials and one particularly prominent rant.
George McPhee 'Expects' Bruce Boudreau To Return As Capitals' Head Coach (StoryStream)
- Bruce Boudreau's Job Should Be Safe No Matter How Capitals Perform In 2011 NHL Playoffs, by Mike Prada
- Time For A Change (Japers' Rink)
- Washington Capitals Should Fire Bruce Boudreau Before It's Too Late, by Martin Shatzer
- By Benching Alex Ovechkin, Bruce Boudreau Sends Message To Entire Capitals Roster, by Adam Vingan
- Coyotes Vs. Capitals: Through Criticism, Bruce Boudreau Finds Solace In Victory, by Adam Vingan
- Bruce Boudreau Hired As Anaheim Ducks Coach Two Days After Being Fired By Capitals (StoryStream)
Bruce Boudreau Fired: Dale Hunter Is New Capitals Coach, But Far From Fresh Face, by Adam Vingan
- Bruce Boudreau Fired As Capitals Head Coach, And Now Players Are On The Clock, by Mike Prada
- Washington Capitals Coaching Change Firmly Shifts Responsibility To Players, by Travis Hughes
Can Dale Hunter Fix What Ails The Washington Capitals?, by Bruce Ciskie
- Chain Reactions: Bruce Boudreau's Firing Headlines Bittersweet Week in D.C. Sports, by Scott Jackson
- Welcome Home, Dale Hunter (Japers' Rink)
For the complete D.C. Top 10 of 2011 countdown, visit this StoryStream. For more coverage of Washington D.C. sports, visit our D.C. blogs:
- Hogs Haven (Redskins)
- Japers' Rink (Capitals)
- Bullets Forever (Wizards)
- Federal Baseball (Nationals)
- Black and Red United (D.C. United)
- Testudo Times (Maryland)
- Casual Hoya (Georgetown)