I don't read every single word written about the Capitals -- by the pros, blogs or fans -- but I have to come close. Yes, I read *almost* every last comment on all the blogs.
What gets me is the sense of entitlement some fans have, like they expect the Capitals to win the Stanley Cup for them, personally, and anything less is failure. I think that a certain segment of the fan base just doesn't get the idea that professional sports is hard. If it were easy, it wouldn't be any fun. And besides, it's not like the Caps don't have competition.
I'm not here to make excuses for the team's poor play. I think I've been fairly critical of the team's lack of offense and their failure to stay committed to what got them here in the first place. But there are a lot of fans that, I suppose, believe that last year's President's Trophy was some sort of guarantee that the Caps would win the Cup this season.
It just doesn't work like that.
First off, this is no where near the same team as last. The team let two experienced NHL centers walk and turned the positions over to two untested rookies, with decidedly mixed results. They let an experienced NHL goaltender walk and turned that position over to two promising rookies. They let two experienced NHL defensemen walk and gave those jobs to two very talented rookies, but rookies nonetheless.
That's six rookies being counted on every night where last year they had experienced NHL players performing. That's not to mention all the injury replacements.
But back to the entitlement aspect. I did some crowd-sourcing on Twitter this morning (because isn't that what it's best for?) asking that question: Where does the entitlement come from? I got some very interesting answers.
@CapsWench: You're right, but I think they spoiled people with all of their wins last year. Now people expect it every game.
@KGDowd: It's core isn't THAT young anymore. But I agree, its like 2 yrs and the fans think they were gipped out of a championship.
@tylerradecki: I think many fans are frustrated to see a team this talented be so close and wonder if they are able to take next step.
@nazarcruce: It's like other sports, fans want to win now when a team has all the pieces. Like when the Skins get a famous coach.
@rinkrebel: I think so. I think it's general malaise from all the Wash sports teams. If 1 team's gonna be good they have to be perfect.
@Green52fan: they don't owe us one, it would be nice but still why do people think the season is over? Look at Flyers last year
@HockeyandBeers: I don't feel entitled, but think it's a team built to make playoffs for years, not contend. Not deep enough to content
@WashCapsRock: What?? I coulda swore the fine print on my tickets promised me a cup! :)
@smheffern: Agree 100%... And that entitlement seems to suck all the fun out of it - and I, for one, enjoy sports b/c they're fun.
@SteveRep44: The Caps came right out last year and told us to set the bar there
@yatesc: It's not a Caps thing, it's a mid-atlantic sports thing. Redskins fans, Terps fans, even Nats fans act entitled.
@kat326: It's because we were spoiled last season~ Though we could win the goddamn Cup and even then people would still complain.
@JoPierce: You owe me a Stanley Cup, Capitals! Don't you realize my beer cost $7 and I got tendinitis from trekking to section 410? Real answer: DC is used to the quid pro quo of govt. IMO, you're not loyal if you base it on getting something back and are ready to take away your loyalty if you don't get what you want.
@KrisIsAwesome: I don't think they "owe" the fans/city/whoever a Cup, but they do owe us consistent effort and passion for the game.
@NCMayhem: The team is young. Remember the Wings didn't get on a roll until they grew as a team. There are a number of years before the fan base gets restless. We've never won the cup so enjoy the team we have at hand or find a new team.
@briano68: The Caps were heralded as the team to beat. Fans bought in. Most casual fans just assumed the Cup in DC was fait accomplit.
@HKYZLYF: #Caps owe it to their fans collectively, as every Pro team does - to each fan personally? That's a joke.
A wide variety of answers, to be sure.
I don't want to go all sunshine and rainbows and puppy dogs on you, but what happened to simply enjoying the game?
These Washington Capitals are young and talented. On any given night they could bust out for seven goals. Yes, they've had their struggles this season, especially on the power play.
But all teams go through rough patches. All teams hide injuries which may effect their level of play, maybe even make it seem like they aren't trying as hard as usual. All teams struggle at times. It's part of the arc of the game.
If the ultimate result is the only thing that matters, what possible enjoyment can you pull out of the game? Is your personal source of self-worth that affected by the outcomes of professional athletes with no real direct allegiances to the geographic region they play in?
Why even bother, if all it brings you is grief and misery? Isn't sports supposed to be an escape from all that?
Maybe this is an antequated thought, but try to enjoy the game instead of placing expectations on outcomes.