The popular saying, “it takes two tango” is very relevant in the firing of Bruce Boudreau. During any divorce or breakup, and assuming infidelity was never an issue, each party must take a step back and self-examine what their responsibility was for the failure of the relationship.
Sports are funny in that head coaches take their jobs knowing that one day, they will be fired. Unless the team is a complete failure, the men that lead teams into battle usually fall victim to their own principals and philosophies. Messages get stale, and that is exactly what happened with Boudreau.
It is hard to believe, but Gabby, as he was known for his willingness to talk, was the fifth most tenured head coach in the NHL after a little over four years behind the bench. Ironically, Boudreau coached his final game behind the Washington bench against the current longest tenured coach in all of the big four sports. Lindy Ruff of the Buffalo Sabres is in year 14 with his team. That is unconscionable to think these days, especially when you consider that Ruff has never won a Stanley Cup, and has only played for one.
George McPhee said all of the right things during his press conference yesterday. He seemed honest and straightforward when he said, “The reason for the change was we weren’t winning, obviously, and this wasn’t a slump. You can ride out slumps. This was simply a case of the players were no longer responding to Bruce".
“Bruce did a terrific job here,” McPhee added, “but when the players aren’t responding you have to make a change.” GMGM finished with a different way of telling reporters Boudreau's ways and methods had grown stale, “Bruce emptied the tank, he gave it everything. He pushed every button he could push.”
You can't blame McPhee for yesterday's turn of events. All McPhee did this past off season was acquire one of one the hottest free agents on the markets in Joel Ward, stole an all-world goalie for $1.5 million, and traded an average goalie in Semyon Varlamov for a potential top five pick in this year’s draft. McPhee improved the Caps on ice personnel, and set his franchise up to be one of the teams that force others watching from afar to mutter, "The rich keep getting richer".
You cannot blame owner Ted Leonsis. The former AOL conglomerate is the perfect fans owner, and the anti-Daniel Snyder, the embattled owner of the often overpaid underperforming Washington Redskins. Leonsis is an educated extremely rich fan himself, who is living out every diehard fans dream of owning a sports team. He wants nothing more than to win championships, and communicates almost daily with the fan base. Leonsis believes in letting the hockey people do their jobs.
Sometimes, you can blame the fans, and the media, but certainly not in this case. Caps fans are educated fans, and know their hockey as well any fan that cheers for one of the original six. Washington fans rock the red nightly and are currently working on their 118th consecutive sellout at Verizon Center.