Every Monday, we’ll highlight (lowlight?) three of the NHL’s biggest duds from the past week.
1st Dud: Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals captain
Key stat: One coach fired (allegedly).
Even though Caps GM George McPhee said firing Bruce Boudreau wasn’t just about one guy, chances are it was mostly about one guy — Ovechkin. CBC’s Tim Wharnsby pinned Boudreau’s firing entirely on Washington’s captain, claiming the infamous benching against Anaheim was Boudreau’s undoing.
“After that, Ovechkin pouted,” Wharnsby wrote. “He scored only three times in the next 12 games and the Capitals record was a poor 3-7-1. Boudreau had lost his team. He no longer had the support from the Capitals ownership nor general manager George McPhee.”
McPhee had to know his star player couldn’t languish 38th in goalscoring (tied with Travis Moen!) much longer, or continue to score at a 63-point pace. McPhee can say the coaching change wasn’t about Ovechkin…but it was about Ovechkin.
2nd Dud: Eric Staal, Carolina Hurricanes captain
Key stat: One coach fired (possibly).
If you’re looking for reasons why Paul Maurice is unemployed, look no further than Staal. He’s on pace for jaw-droppingly bad statistics; at this rate he’ll finish with 16 goals and 30 points and somewhere in the neighborhood of a minus-237 rating. (Estimating.)
Maurice tried everything short of Tony Robbins tapes to motivate his captain. He shifted linemates, he changed assignments, he even moved Staal to the wing — but nothing worked. It’s believed Staal’s issues are between the ears as opposed to a physical ailment (speculation is that concussed his brother, Marc, weighs on him still) so in that light, it’s tough to blame Maurice entirely.
But he’s the one that lost his job.
3rd Dud: Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks captain
Key stat: One coach fired (impending?)
Next on the coaching hot seat is Anaheim’s Randy Carlyle. With his team at 6-13-4 and just one point up on last-place Columbus, he needs someone to step up and right the ship — which you’d think would be his captain.
Not so, says Jeff Miller of the OC Register.
Now is when the Ducks need Getzlaf to prove that the “C” on his jersey has been earned, not just awarded.
The last time he experienced something comparable to this, no one was leaning on him for direction. Now, each of Getzlaf’s teammates is looking his way – and the image they’ve seen hasn’t always been that of a leader.
It was Getzlaf who Friday lost the puck behind his own net, leading to what became the Blackhawks’ tying goal in the third period.
That was the misplay that prompted him to kill an otherwise innocent hockey stick.
“With Getzy, he’s trying to wear the weight of that captaincy,” Carlyle told the Register. “These are the times when it becomes very, very heavy.”
The burden of losing games and potentially costing coach his job? Yeah, that’s fairly heavy.