There are so many ways you could spin the narrative when it comes to the Washington Capitals' second-round series vs. the Tampa Bay Lightning. It's the Capitals' new style against a team that most embodies its old style. It's the Capitals' primary division challenger standing in their way of their first conference finals appearance. Yada, yada, yada.
But I prefer this one the best. Via Ben Raby of Comcast SportsNet, it was a 2003 series loss to the Lightning that convinced the Capitals to begin this long rebuilding effort.
"The market has spoken,'' [Ted] Leonsis said at the time."The truth of the matter was that we worked very, very hard to expand our fan base, and it was apparent we didn't capture the imagination of a broader base of fan.
"I don't think you'll see us being active in the free-agent market this summer,'' Leonsis said."Our payroll is high enough. We're certainly not going to increase our payroll because there doesn't seem to be a correlation between wins and losses and attendance.''
Eight years later, here we are.