It’s always a sad day when a good coach takes the fall for his players underperforming. Unfortunately that is exactly what happened to Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau as he was fired on Monday by general manager George McPhee and replaced by Washington legend Dale Hunter.
The Capitals have failed to live up to the lofty expectations set by owner Ted Leonsis during Boudreau’s tenure and after falling from first to eighth in the Eastern Conference it was time for Bruce to go. During his tenure in Washington the Capitals will be remembered as one of the best regular season teams, but one that seemingly always fell asleep in the postseason.
Whether it’s fair or not, Boudreau’s success in D.C. would always be linked to Alex Ovechkin, the Russian superstar who hasn’t lived up to his potential in nearly two years. The writing was on the wall when Boudreau and Ovi publicly clashed as the coach benched Washington’s captain late in a game against the Anaheim Ducks on November 2.
It’s never fair to fire great coaches when their stars don’t seem to care, but unfortunately it’s the only thing to do. George McPhee isn’t going to trade Ovechkin, although trading Alex Semin might not be a bad idea. Now, just as many teams do, the Capitals will likely be rejuvenated and re-motivated by their new coach Dale Hunter, a no-nonsense and hard nose coach from the OHL. Hunter will likely see regular season success out of his team, but until he helps the Caps hoist the Stanley Cup in June, Washington’s decision to fire a great coach won’t be justified.