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Should the Washington Capitals Players Apologize to the Fans?

April 30, 2010

4/30/10

Yesterday was an emotional day for many of the Washington Capitals fans. We all had expectations and we all wanted something better than we got. I posted as positive a response to a quick playoff defeat as I could. A few CAPS fans were not happy with me and sent me e-mails to let me know. One particular e-mail went so far over the line, I couldn’t help but be hurt by it. I was just as emotional as mostly everyone, but what’s done is done. I hesitate to actually post this, but I am a long-time Washington fan and as such, I have become skilled at getting it out and letting it go. This kind of thing happens to Capitals fans. We want out team to win. We believe our team will do great. We put our hearts and souls into our team – and yet – there is no cup.

Having stated that; the reason I started the day after the big loss in a positive frame of mind is exactly for the reason I posted yesterday. We have never had a regular season team do what the regular season Washington Capitals did this season. It’s almost miraculous if you consider how far down on the team was in 03-04. There was no hockey the following year. Then within four years of god awful hockey, we have the best team in the NHL. In my mind – I’m counting the blessings bestowed upon me by the team I’ve been disappointed by for decades. While I do know that the cup is the measure of a team – the battles they win in the war to win the cup over the long run are something to hold onto for dear life.

I know that many others don’t share my view. I can’t find it in my big-old hockey-loving heart to spew forth negative disappointment. I can’t do that, because that’s not the kind of person I am straight down to my very core. It’s not in my typical nature, so it doesn’t usually happen. Just like the Washington Capitals; I will begin again and prepare for another 82 games next season. My brain may be running tons of thoughts through it about another Washington Capitals let down, but my commitment to the sport itself and my loyalty as a fan has shaped my outward self to just keep looking onward and upward. The Washington Capitals have improved. Despite how strenuously anyone makes a point otherwise or how brilliantly for that matter; the proof is in the history of the organization since the lockout for me and that’s good enough.

Now, onto the main point – as I said – I was just as emotional as mostly everyone else yesterday. I needled a person who had posted a fan post at Japers Rink. It was an “Open Letter to Ted Leonsis”. I felt so strongly about his suggestion of letting the CAPS fans gather at the Verizon Center ASAP and having the players stand in front of them and offer a public apology for the fact that they tanked in round 1 of the playoffs. Remember, I am allowed to be emotional too – even if I try to stay positive. I let my emotion comment openly about my feelings in the “comments” section. I may have put incorrect information in my comment and reply to the author’s comments. I’m not sure of any of the laws and rules regarding NHL ownership or player contract negotiation. I know there’s something to my point, but it may not have formulated correctly. The one thing that I am still feeling today is the idea of making the players stand in front of an angry red crowd and apologize before they pack up and go where they go in the off-season.

As strongly as some fans feel that a public apology is what they, as fans, deserve – I feel the opposite just as strongly. Put yourself in the skates of the players. These guys start playing hockey when they are little kids. They work and they practice and they commit and they dedicate themselves to one thing and one thing only. They play hockey and they have made it to the professional, elite level. They just played yet another regular season of 82 games and came out with an astounding number of points – far above any other NHL team this year.

If you had just played those last 7 games – how would you be feeling right now? Chew on it and think about it for a little while. Be empathetic and try to remove your disappointment as a fan. If ANY fan out there thinks that even ONE of the guys on the team are not totally devastated in one way or another (whether it has manifested itself outwardly or not) – you are probably wrong, wrong, wrong. All the fans who love Alex Ovechkin for his full-on enthusiasm and how openly he expresses his joy should at least be able to understand that he REALLY FEELS his emotions to his very core. Just as a person can feel joy, they can also feel heartbreak and disappointment.

Since I view things in that light – how good do you think I would feel as a disappointed fan to force Alex Ovechkin to stand in front of me and apologize for something that has to be hurting him deeply right now? Would that make the anguish and disappointment of my fan dedication to a team being dashed yet once again any better? If you’re answer to that question is “yes” as a fan in that position, then from a strictly psychologically scientific perspective – maybe the problem is not Alex Ovechkin, the rest of the team or the organization itself in the first place.

Please try to understand that I’m not poking or being vindictive or anything else negative. I’m not pointing out fans who are frustrated or feel great sense of letdown. I’m not even making any commentary on the “Open Letter to Ted Leonsis” and the author. ALL I am trying to do is put a DIFFERENT perspective out there. Sometimes, things I write or say seem very logical and they may seem to me like they are good ideas. But then someone mentions an idea or a thought that I didn’t have previously that could possibly change how I feel about something. It happens and it is why I will take blog comments and e-mails as they come. I LEARN from other people.

To me, making players who have worked for most of their lives to get a spot on an NHL team stand in front of crowd who may even “boo” them is absolutely the wrong thing to do on so many humanistic levels, that I could not help but comment about the fan post and could not help but put my feelings here today. Good business and proper “damage control” is a very important factor in this situation – I agree – but as both the author of the post and the author of this blog both should know, because we have both read Ted Leonsis’s book – there is a “double bottom line”. I’m merely representing the “other bottom line” from my well-educated, well-practiced, well-studied end as well. No disrespect to anyone, including the author.

I don’t have to know any of the players personally to have a good hunch that they are very, very sorry to have let us all down. I don’t think the entire team let us down. I know they will work to get it even better next year. Maybe other fans need more proof of that – but please remember that while hockey is a business and can make or break cities and so forth, the business aspect should not overlook the positive benefits of allowing the players time to handle their own personal letdowns and spare them the demoralizing humiliation of apologizing to upset fans right now. I doubt that will be helpful to the “bottom line on both accounts”.

Thanks for sticking with me. Have a great Friday everyone! GO CAPS! Love to all CAPS fans as well! – peace – mia – (sciencegirl99@excite.com)

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