Flyers-Capitals rivalry from a fan’s perspective
The Capitals and their fans hate the Flyers, and I understand that. Believe me, I’ve watched the Flyers lose enough playoff series to the New Jersey Devils to know exactly how that feels and how the residual feelings linger for years. So I have no complaint with having a healthy rivalry.
But I will admit that it saddens me to see some of the Capitals’ verbal responses to their new rivalry with the Flyers. Sure, I love the Flyers, which makes me biased.
BUT I ALSO LOVE THE CAPITALS. I’ve been on the bandwagon ever since I saw Mike Green play for the first time in Hershey. I relish the opportunity to watch AO, with his hard-hitting and wicked shot. And Brooks Laich deserves so much more credit than he’s given outside Washington for his grit and tenacity; I caught a penalty kill earlier this year where, in one shift, he blocked pucks with both arms and a leg.
As a Caps fan, I want better from this amazing group than bitter words that hit below the belt. I especially expect better sportsmanship from Bruce Boudreau. As head coach, he’s a leader for a young team. His actions influence their behaviors and will for the rest of their playing careers.
Sure, tough words about tough guys happen frequently, and there’s no shame in it. However, there is a way to show respect afterwards. Consider how George Laraque, then a Pittsburgh Penguin, responded to reporters’ questions after a bout with Riley Cote last year: Cote is “pound for pound . . . the toughest guy in the NHL.” Laraque played for a team that has no love lost with the Flyers, but he still found a way to demonstrate an admirable level of sportsmanship. BTW – he kicked Cote’s butt big time in that game.
As to Boudreau’s comments regarding complaints about Philly’s injuries, please remember that those injury articles came from the press. I did not read a single quote from a Flyer or Flyers management bemoaning the fact that we don’t have enough guys to fill the jerseys right now. Yes, Paul Holmgren spoke to the press about who had what injuries – that’s the GM’s job. Holmgren also pointed out that he was proud of the Flyers’ gritty performance in LA and that he expected them to bring an equally intense game into Washington last night. That’s not anything close to a complaint.
I think Boudreau is a fantastic coach with a terrific bunch of players down there in Washington, and I hope to watch many more exciting Caps games in the future. As a fan – and this is the Caps fan in me talking – I want better from him. I want to see honorable, sportsmanlike comments. I want to be able to respect Boudreau as a good man as well as a good hockey coach.
Otherwise, I’m going to have to agree with Mike Richards on this one. (Scroll down to Tuesday’s version of “Tonight’s Lineup” – quote’s at the end).
And the Caps’ fan portion of me would really hate that.