Caps Fans Entitled to Stanley Cup?

Posted by Dave Nichols | Friday, February 18, 2011 | , , | 9 comments »

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.


  1. GO // February 18, 2011 at 1:47 PM  

    Great points. I think a big part of the entitlement demographic is drawn from the newer fanbase the team has earned over the past 4 years or so. They may not appreciate the nuances of what it takes to win in this league. The NHL, particularly its second season, is the toughest in professional sports. This team certainly has the tools to win it all, but its also about the intangibles. We'll see if theyre up to the task in April.

  2. Dave Nichols // February 18, 2011 at 1:51 PM  

    Thanks for the input. Trade deadline sould be very interesting.

  3. KG Dowd // February 19, 2011 at 10:09 AM  

    Teams don't "owe" their fans anything. Fans pay for an experience, they get an experience. If they don't like that experience, they should stop paying for it. It's that simple.

    I'm also curious at whoever said Nats fans feel entitled. I've never come across that.

  4. Anonymous // February 19, 2011 at 1:20 PM  

    EXCELLENT post. Totally spot-on and exactly correct. Thank you! We all need to re-align our heads on this.

  5. Mia // February 19, 2011 at 1:36 PM  

    I do my best to read and listen to all the thoughts about the Washington Capitals as well. I do my best as a fan to simply be THRILLED that after 30+ years of Capitals fandom, I am blessed to see the best hockey coming out of the organization itself.

    One thing I do that may come across as "entitled", as unintentionally as it is from my end, is continue to BELIEVE these guys CAN win the Stanley Cup this year. From my perspective, I think it's mentally better for the team to have that one goal in mind at all times, even if (okay hockey gods, I'll take a hit, but don't jinx anything here) they do not win the Stanely Cup this year.

    One thing that has emerged as a pattern from what I can tell is that the DC/MD/VA geographic area is not steeped in a rich tradition of ice hockey like many other NHL franchise's geographic areas. Many fans feel frustration and anger to extremes so they lash out. Some of that may come from the fact that they are still learning about the game, the history of the NHL and the history of the Washington Capitals organization.

    I think the entire enchilada of all things Washington Capitals world took a massive header into the wall after last year's 1st round drop-out in the playoffs.

    I am very happy when I see all the people out there Rockin' the Red and fans at away games. I am very happy that ice hockey in general is getting more and more attention in this geographic region, because every fan helps to slowly build an actual hockey culture around these parts. That's a great thing. The adverse affect, however, is that many fans (by no means all) simply are learning. They, in a sense are Rookies.

    The only thing I feel entitled to is to see these guys play like they love the game, even if they are facing challenges. My only real concern comes from being a die hard fan for a very long time and I don't want any players losing their game due to all the anger that gets put out into the general atmosphere by mean, angry fans (even if many of those fans are reacting that way because they are rookie NHL fans).

    I'm not a perfect fan, but I do LOVE this team. I have some issue with the organizational philosophy, if they don't at least try a little bit to help educate the Rookie fans so that all the anger can subside a little.

    Again - I'm just a fan who loves the game and the Washington Capitals. I readily admit that I could have my head up my butt.

    GO CAPS and thanks so much for sharing this perspective. YOU ROCK!

  6. Dave Nichols // February 19, 2011 at 1:50 PM  

    Thanks for all the comments.

    @KG: i agree with you that fans aren't owed anything but an honest effort.

    @Mia: i think the legions of new Caps fans and, for lack of a better term, their "Redskins" mentality, might be aprt of the problem. but you're right, i think, that there's a lack of awareness from parts of the fanbase.

  7. Bryan // February 19, 2011 at 3:18 PM  

    Good post. Well taken about the rookies -- let's hope GMGM can get us a little help at C in the next week or so. I read a lot of what's written too, and the comments at WaPo's CI blog have become completely toxic. The majority of it is miserable people trying to outdo each other about how much GMGM, BB, 8, 19, 28 and the team as a whole sucks. I don't even read it anymore - for balanced comments pretty much just stick to Japers now. Agree with you that if people hate it so much, why bother to even follow the team. Some people are just addicted to negativity.

  8. JS // February 19, 2011 at 7:27 PM  

    I've been rooting for the Caps to win the Cup since I was in grade school. Although it's really not that big of a deal when I think about it, I'm pretty invested in seeing that happen.

    For me, it's not entitlement, but more a demand that, with fortune having given us a roster of stars, the players and organization do everything possible get the Cup when it's so eminently achievable.

    Especially when you see a lackluster effort on the ice, anger is an understandable response.

    It's not entitlement -- it's a recognition that a lot is on the line right now.

  9. Angie // February 20, 2011 at 9:40 AM  

    Dave I am totally with you on this! The sense of entitlement is out of control! The comments left on Ted's blog alone are crazy sometimes. Hockey for me is the most awesome sport there is. I love the Caps and I so want them to win, but if they don't that's ok to because I love the sport! I don't deny wanting to see a more impassioned play from them for every game, but it's got to be tough to be up for 80 games all season long. At some point people got the idea that sports weren't just for entertainment anymore!!!!