As the Washington Capitals pack their bags and head into another summer without a Stanley Cup, team owner Ted Leonsis would like to apologize to fans.
“Sports teams impact the psyche of a city, and I feel terrible that we have let you down,” Leonsis wrote on his blog, Ted’s Take. “I’m sorry we didn’t deliver on our top goal.”
For the second straight season, the Capitals won the Presidents’ Trophy but failed to get past the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round. In the 12 seasons since Alex Ovechkin became the face of the franchise, the team has never advanced to the third round.
Ovechkin had a down year by his standards, despite scoring 33 goals. Instead, solid seasons from Nicklas Backstrom, Andre Burakovsky and Evgeny Kuznetsov led the Capitals to a league-best 118 points during the regular season.
But Leonsis knows that his team's success is measured in the playoffs and he made clear that this was another disappointing season.
"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 wrote. "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."
This season the Capitals made a big splash at the trade deadline, acquiring defenceman Kevin Shattenkirk from the St. Louis Blues. But even that wasn't enough and Leonsis says the team will be looking into what happened.
He did promise that changes will be coming and that the team plans to be in the hunt for the Stanley Cup next season. Leonsis didn't get into specifics about changes to the roster, but the Capitals have a lot of expiring contracts and the upcoming expansion draft to deal with this summer.
"We will do our best to dissect and critically examine why we weren’t able to advance further," he wrote. "Then we will focus on how to improve."
For now, Capitals fans and their owner can only sit and watch while other teams continue the race for the Stanley Cup.
"I feel awful – almost numb, yet frustrated," Leonsis wrote. "I know many of our fans – locally and around the world – feel the same way."