Redemption for the Washington Capitals and a lesson learned…
That’s the sound of me exhaling.
Some of you know I play hockey and I’ve been a huge Caps fan for 23+ years starting with my Dad taking me when I was 13 to the games. I was there for the highs and the lows. The heartbreak vs the Islanders and also the incredible Dale Hunter overtime goal vs. Philly. Plus the Stanley Cup sweep (I try not to think about that.)
It was pretty awesome in San Diego this past weekend when my brother, Jeff Johnson, Todd & Ashely Dickerson joined me to watch game 6 at 11 AM, PT. For every Caps goal we started buying the entire bar shots chanting C-A-P-S…Caps! Caps! Caps! It got out of control fast but we loved it with a 5-3 Caps Win…heading to Game 7 back in D.C.
The Caps had to come from a 3 games to 1 deficit to beat the Rangers in 7. playoffs in 11 years and they haven’t won a game 7 in 21 years. Ouch!
My gift to my Dad was front-row seats behind the Caps bench for game 7. And Missy was a real trooper since it was her birthday on Tuesday and that ended up being her bday present.
The Capitals have finally built an incredible fan base and it’s amazing to see 18,000+ people in a sea of red!
I felt like I had too many emotions going on because of the flat play I was really worried it would be a repeat of last year — but the 3rd period made me feel confident momentum was going our way. Then Sergei Federov’s amazing wrister sealed the deal 2-1 late in the 3rd. For the final 5 minute the entire crowd on their feet – it was just magical.
You can actually see all of us on the front page of the Wash Post and online. – here’s the pic (we’re to the right of coach Boudreau):
So now we play the Pittsburgh Penguins. The NHL is more than excited because some of the biggest super stars in the league will be facing off against each other from both teams. Should be some real fireworks and I can’t wait to chant “Crosby Sucks!” as Ovechkin lays him out.
Now even though this had nothing to do with business there are some lessons I picked up. The biggest one needs a little background on the series and last year.
Last year the Caps had the worst record in the East and a journeyman coach, Bruce Boudreau, (who was also an extra in the movie Slap Shot) came in who helped them believe they could win. They had all the talent they needed but didn’t actually play like a team. The only way they could make the playoffs last year was to go on a 11-game winning streak for their final 11 games (and they did it). They went down 3-1 in the series against Philadelphia and came back to force a decisive game 7 (again). But last year they lost in OT on a pretty crappy penalty call. Their goalie last year, Huet, held out for more money and they couldn’t get a deal done.
Okay so much for background.
This year the team had their best record ever and won their conference but their goalie, Jose Theodore, was pretty unpredictable at best.
Game 1 against the Rangers the Caps totally out played the Rangers but Theodore let in 4 pretty soft goals on only 15 shots. Coach Boudreau ending up making the pivotal decision of the series by playing rookie goalie, Simeon Varlamov. Varlamov was a 20-year old back-up who was sent to the Caps after our regular back-up was injured. He certainly had been scouted for his immense potential but he had only played 6 regular season NHL games. To have him come in after just one miserable performance by the veteran Theodore was almost unthinkable – but Boudreau made the call and I think that turned the series around. Varlamov was stellar in net leading to victory.
Lesson: Make the hard decisions for a potential big reward. Or take the easy path and settle for mediocrity.