Thursday, November 22, 2007

They’re carving more than birds in Washington…

Thanksgiving Day was dismissal day for Hanlon, on a day best known for carving up a golden bird for a feast; the Washington Capitals decided that the time had arrived to sacrifice their coach.

Glen Hanlon, the victim of an underperforming Capitals squad, was let go following yet another uninspiring game from his team. A rather common experience this year unfortunately for Hanlon, who has been unable to light a fire under his team and turn them in the right direction.

Despite the talents of Alexander Ovechkin and the best efforts of Olie Kolzig to stem the tide, the Capitals have far too frequently been on the wrong side of the score on most nights, and even more worrisome appearing to just be going through the motions while on the ice.

Wednesday night’s 5-1 humbling to the Atlanta Thrashers (who recently canned their coach) appears to have been the final straw for Caps ownership, which could not have helped but heard the boos, catcalls and derisive chants that “Hanlon must go”.

The loss was Washington’s 15th in 18 games and gives them uncontested custody of last place in the NHL, marking their worst start in 26 years.

Hanlon, who is a popular figure in the NHL, has been the coach of the Capitals for the last four years, an era which seemed to coincide with a decline in the team’s fortunes. While poor finishes over the last few years have allowed them to select such highly touted rookies as Ovechkin and this year’s Nicklas Backstrom, the process of turning a raw group of youngsters into a pro team has taken longer than expected.

The time to bring it all together ran out for Hanlon on Thursday morning, Bruce Boudreau has been promoted from his post on the farm in Hershey, given the job on an interim basis, and will step behind the bench on Friday when Washington meets the Flyers in Philadelphia.

Hanlon who compiled a career record of 78-123-9-29 in his only stint as a head coach, he previously had been an assistant in Washington and before that worked for the Vancouver Canucks as an assistant coach.

The Capitals had entered this season hopeful of a turn around of fortunes, using a marketing slogan of “New Look. New Season. New Attitude”, as the season progressed however it was more of a case of the “same old story” night after long night. Having lost the fans along the way during this now apparent incomplete rebuild, left the Caps owner Ted Leonis with little recourse than to make what may amount to only a cosmetic change on the bench.

In the end a coach who was considered by many to be a players coach, was let down by those very players. Where the Caps go from here remains to be seen, but a team that seemed lacking in confidence and at times in a work ethic, may find that their problems are much deeper than just the fellow that stands behind the bench. Name Bruce Boudreau Interim Head Coach

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