Chalk this one up - The Capitals are through (again)

April 20, 2003|by MARK KELLER

The Washington Capitals are in full-blown April mode as their first-round playoff series with the Tampa Bay Lightning draws to a close.

How else to explain winning the first two games of the series on the road, then lose the next three to step right to the brink of yet another postseason disappointment?

Face it. History is not on the side of the Capitals here. In fact, history dictates that the Caps will lose this series and hit the golf courses before the start of May for the fifth straight year.


In order to maintain their sanity, about all Capitals fans can do now is laugh about it, take a deep breath and move on.

At some point, however, Caps owner Ted Leonsis needs to take drastic steps by bringing in a coach (Scotty Bowman? Ted Nolan?) who will get this team over the hump and turn it into a consistent playoff winner.

The talent is there, with Jaromir Jagr, Peter Bondra, Olaf Kolzig, Sergei Gonchar and Robert Lang, among others. But time is running out. None of those players are getting any younger and there doesn't appear to be a lot of help coming from the minors.

In the meantime, fans will get nothing more than a chuckle out of the playoffs as they watch this edition of the Capitals write another losing chapter in the franchise's "horror"-storied history.

The WNBA players' union is treading on thin ice as it negotiates a new labor deal with the league, which is underwritten by the NBA and ultimately under that league's thumb.

The players are in danger of losing their season, due to begin May 22, if they do not agree to a deal soon. But they continue to push for more money for veterans and rookies and a shorter term for the collective bargaining agreement.

The fact is the union doesn't have a leg to stand on. The league is losing money and would not be in existence if not for the NBA continually pumping money into its coffers.

While teams like the Washington Mystics consistently draw decent crowds to their games, they are an anomaly. Most teams in the league are lucky to fill half the seats in their arenas.

If the WNBA players wish to continue playing, they'll take the deal - any deal - that the league is offering and like it.

And if the money they're making isn't enough to support them or their families, why don't they do like the rest of us and find a better paying job?

Mark Keller is sports editor of The Herald-Mail. His column appears every Sunday. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2332, or by e-mail at

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