Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis published a lengthy blog post Friday morning, apologizing to fans for another devastating playoff run and promising “adjustments” ahead of next season.
“Our team definitely will look different next year due to expiring contracts and salary cap limits,” Leonsis wrote on monumentalsportsnetwork.com, his media platform managed by his son Zach. “At this point I don’t know what the team makeup will be, but our goal is to retain and acquire players who will help us to advance in the playoffs and win a championship in 2018.”
The Capitals have ten players that will be free agents this summer. TJ Oshie, Justin Williams, Daniel Winnik, Kevin Shattenkirk, Karl Alzner are all unrestricted free agents while Evgeny Kuznetsov, Andre Burakovsky, Dmitry Orlov, Nate Schmidt, and Philipp Grubauer are restricted and due raises – some of which are substantial.
Leonsis’s focus on the players in his blog post suggests a change in management or the coaching staff is unlikely despite several self-inflicted wounds in the postseason. Head coach Barry Trotz has still never led a team past the second-round of the playoffs during his 18-year career in the NHL. General manager Brian MacLellan was a holdover from the George McPhee era, earning a promotion after spending seven seasons as the team’s assistant GM. The Capitals have had unprecedented regular-season success under the pair, winning consecutive Presidents’ Trophies. Many players have also called this iteration of the Capitals as the closest team they’ve ever played on.
Leonsis, who described his feelings as “almost numb, yet frustrated,” said he felt “terrible” that the organization has let the fanbase down. He also showed class congratulating the Pittsburgh Penguins for overcoming adversity and making “more plays when it counted most.”
The owner encouraged fans to consider the context of the entire season, but did not mince words about the team’s struggles in the postseason.
“We have witnessed some incredible individual and team accomplishments, and I try not to lose sight of the incredible performances we witnessed between October and early April,” Leonsis said. “But the playoffs, while incredibly exciting, have been heartbreaking. We have been a good team for a number of years, but everyone knows we ultimately are judged on our playoff performance, and anything less than a Cup is a disappointment. I’m sorry we didn’t deliver on our top goal.”
“We have tried many things – some obvious and others discrete – to make ourselves a better playoff team,” Leonsis continued. “We will do our best to dissect and critically examine why we weren’t able to advance further. Then we will focus on how to improve.”