While watching their Capitals sleepwalk through an embarrassing 5-1 loss to the Thrashers on Wednesday night, the hometown fans gave voice to their frustration and filled the building with the chant "Fire Hanlon!"
On Thursday morning, they got their wish. The Capitals turfed
Hanlon's record in Washington was 78-123-9-29 -- not a bad mark considering the talent he had to work with through much of his tenure. In fact, he earned admiration around the league for instilling a work ethic that made the Caps a difficult opponent as they built toward respectability.
But hard work only goes so far, and this was a season where more was expected. While the players were said to have liked Hanlon, it was apparent that the losing was diminishing his impact in the room. So with the offense going sour and the effort going south, GM
Caps fans may be in a thankful mood, but they should also recognize the hard truth: There's little chance that the erstwhile coach of the AHL Hershey Bears can turn this ship around, the preseason promise of playoffs by owner
With three-quarters of the season to go, the Caps are already reduced to playing out the string. After just 21 games, the math points towards their fourth lottery pick in five years. It took 92 points for the Islanders to secure the hotly contested final playoff berth in the East last season. With just 13 points through 21 games, the Caps would need to win something in the neighborhood of 40 of their final 61 matches to hit that mark.
Looking at what this group has accomplished so far, there's little reason to secure any dates at the Verizon Center this spring. The NHL's worst team at the quarter pole, the Caps have won just three of their last 18 after a promising start that saw them rattle off three straight wins. Seems like a long time ago, doesn't it, Caps fans?
At that point, it looked as though McPhee's summer additions, including centers
As a team, the Caps were less aggressive than the late, great Mr. Whipple. It was a systemic problem in plain evidence during Wednesday's last-straw loss to the Thrashers.
So change was inevitable, and not just to stop the bleeding. Because as much as this move was about providing some sort of spark for the team and giving hope to a disenchanted fan base, it is also meant to send a message to
That puts a lot of pressure on Boudreau to show progress, if not work a miracle with a lineup that looks frighteningly thin and awkwardly constructed despite being three seasons into McPhee's rebuilding effort. Boudreau will certainly bring a more demanding style to the rink than the one employed by Hanlon, who is a more reserved individual.
The boys will always know their coach is there now, but it'll take more than emotional leadership to sort through this mess. Figuring out what to do with
So you got your wish, Caps fans. Since your last chant worked so well, you might want to start one for that miracle now.