Every 20 years or so, a major D.C. sports team is good enough to win a championship. Right now, the Capitals are that team, and they might need to a make a major move so they can win one before their window closes.
January 26, 1992 was an awful long time ago. I was eight years old, and I can just barely remember it. I remember watching the Washington Redskins win Super Bowl XXVI while at a neighbor's house; the whole street was there. I remember my dad having a bet with some dude who inexplicably was supporting the Cleveland Browns that involved an undefined number of free car washes.
But that's about all I can remember. And that's the last time that one of the four major sports teams in D.C. won a championship.
An entire generation of D.C. sports fans has been waiting almost 20 years to see one of its teams lift a trophy. Those of us who watched the Redskins win Super Bowl XXVI as kids are now well into our adulthood, and don't have a real grasp on what it feels like to support a champion.
When will a major D.C. sports team have its next championship? I really thought it was going to be 2011. This felt like a special season for the Washington Capitals. They made huge player moves at the trade deadline to bring in winners like Jason Arnott and Dennis Wideman. They adapted to a new more defensive style of play that's been a proven success in the NHL playoffs. They'd done virtually everything in their power to set themselves up for a long run.
The Capitals were the hottest team in the Eastern Conference entering the playoffs. Then they met the Tampa Bay Lightning, and it all fell apart. We're all left waiting for next year. Just like we've been waiting for next year the past 18 years. When will it end?
It won't end this year. That's for sure. The Nationals, Wizards, and Redskins are all in various stages of the rebuilding process. They're all years away from being championship contenders. The Wizards would need to win tonight's NBA Draft lottery, and maybe next year's too. The Nationals would need two more Stephen Strasburgs and four more Bryce Harpers. The Redskins would need a new owner. Only the Capitals have a legitimate chance of winning a championship within the next few years. The problem with the Capitals, though, is that we have no reason to believe that next season will be any better. They've already made all the changes they can make. Haven't they?
No. There's one more change that the Capitals can make. They could change the coaching. For four straight seasons now, Bruce Boudreau and his staff has taken this incredibly talented team no farther than the second round of the playoffs. He's had his chance. Its time to give someone else a chance.
The window for the Washington Capitals to win a Stanley Cup is closing. The players are getting older, and it will get harder and harder each year to fit all of the core players under the salary cap while still having enough money left over for quality role players.
Boudreau is a good coach. He took the Capitals from 16th in goals against in 2009-10 to fourth in 2010-11. Maybe he would get them farther in the playoffs next year? Or maybe he wouldn't. Maybe the D.C. area won't have another team good enough to legitimately compete for a championship for another 20 years.
I don't take calling for someone's job lightly, but the change I'm proposing is justified. If this was a major corporation and you were given the biggest budget and the best products but achieved the same disappointing results for four consecutive years, you'd probably be fired too. You'd be replaced with someone different. Not necessarily better in every way, but different. A different voice with some fresh ideas might be exactly what the Capitals need.
Ted Leonsis and George McPhee need to make a change to the Capitals' coaching before its too late. They owe it to the D.C. area. We've all become emotionally invested in their team, and we desperately want to see them win. The window is closing. Let's win a Cup before it closes. Because it might be 20 more years before it opens again around here.
I want something to celebrate. I want my dad to get free car washes. I want to remember what it feels like to support a champion.