Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Firing Boudreau is Not The Answer

As lifelong Washingtonians, and homers when it comes to the local sports teams, the stupidity and impatience of many DC area sports fans is befuddling. We're not sure if its the culture created by the midget owner in Ashburn, or the entitlement attitudes of many in the DMV or both, but whatever it is, it's extremely toxic.

The idea to fire Caps Coach Bruce Boudreau right now is absurd. Although he's failed to get the Caps to the promised land in the short 2.5 seasons he's been here, his regular season record is staggering good, and unlike the before mentioned Snyder, Ted Leonisis doesn't run his team like a stratamatic wet dream. We don't expect him to (on a whim) hire "the ole puck coach" to come in and "coach up" Ovi.

Do any of the people questioning Boudreau's job security remember how dreadful the state of this franchise was prior to his arrival? He's not the sole reason for the Caps turnaround, certainly players like Ovechkin, Backstrom, and Semin help, but his numbers as a head coach are historically good in most categories.

Boudreau took over for Glen Hanlon, 22 games into the '07-'08 campaign. At the time, the Capitals were 6-14-1. Boudreau turned the team around, compiling a 37-17-7 record, and leading the Caps to their first playoff appearance in 5 years, and their first division title in 7. In his two full seasons since, Boudreau's 104 regular season wins is tops in the NHL, tied only with San Jose's Todd McLellan. The Caps worst place finish in their division since Boudreau's arrival is 1st, which ironically, is where they currently stand.

Prior to replacing Hanlon, Boudreau coached the Caps farm club, the Hershey Bears. In his two seasons there, all he did was lead them to back to back Calder Cup Finals, winning the Cup in '06.

Although his lack of playoff success has been dissected ad nauseum, the drive by fans doing the dissecting need to understand that you cannot judge an NHL coach's playoff success or lack of, the same way you might judge an NFL coach's playoff record. Besides the fact that the guy is only in his 3rd full season.

The NHL playoff system can be very fickle. 16 teams make the playoffs, and a lot of the times the best overall team(s) don't always prevail. You need to look no further than last spring to illustrate how unpredictable the NHL Playoffs can be. The Eastern Conference Finals featured the #7 seed Flyers vs. the #8 seed Canadians.

And unlike the NFL, the team with the best record doesn't get a first round bye, nor do they only have to win 2 games (in their own backyard, no less) to get a ticket to the Finals. They have to win three 7 game series, before they can even compete in the Cup Finals.

4 years ago, the Caps were a last place team that barely registered a blip on the local sports radar screen. Today they are a perennial division winner with expectations of Stanley Cup or bust, and they're the only successful sports franchise in town. Bruce Boudreau is a big reason for that turnaround.

Last year's first round playoff exit was very disappointing, and if they meet the same fate this year, well then the calls for his job may be more justified. But until then, people need to calm the fuck down (to quote BB from last night's "24/7"), and realize how bad of shape this team was in before Gabby got behind the bench. A 7 game losing streak in December, is a hell of a lot better than a 4 game losing streak in April.

Follow on twitter@sportsyack

Bruce Boudreau pic courtesy of Teka England via Flickr

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