Blowing Things Up Real Good
One of the most popular suggestions these days for the Maple Leafs, a team without a clear immediate future or long-term future, is that the team should "blow up" its current roster, sink to the bottom of the NHL standings for a few years and rebuild with stars through the draft.
You know, just like the Pittsburgh Penguins did it. Sort of.
Well, the Washington Capitals should serve as a warning to the Leafs or any other team considering that strategy.
See, it just may not work. There's no guarantee.
The Caps fired their coach, Glen Hanlon, yesterday, and replaced him with ex-Leaf Bruce Boudreau after sinking to dead last in the NHL. After a 39-win season in 2002-03, the Caps haven't finished above 14th in the East and aren't going much higher this year, it would appear.
Maybe it's too early to totally evaluate the Caps', ahem, strategy. Nicklas Backstrom, the fifth pick of the '06 draft, is just getting his feet wet in the NHL, and the fifth pick of last summer's draft, defenceman Karl Alzner, is a couple of years away.
But other than Alex Ovechkin, the Caps don't appear to have the stars or star-quality prospects that would theoretically fuel a surge up the NHL standings anytime in the near future. Maybe they've got to wallow in the lower regions of the draft a while longer to mimic what, say, the Quebec Nordiques pulled off by finishing so terribly for so long in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
It's not just the Caps. You might make the same argument about Florida, and possibly Columbus as well, although the Blue Jackets are showing signs of making strides this season. Under the worst-case scenario, you just end up with a lot of young kids learning how to lose together.
Point is, going way, way down doesn't necessarily mean future success. Even Pittsburgh has stalled to some degree this season.
Blowing it all up, Leaf fans, might just make it worse.