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Greg Wyshynski

Are Hannan, Knuble filling leadership void for Capitals?

Greg Wyshynski
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After their 4-1 loss on home ice to the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday, part of a 2-3-1 month and an overall 4-4-3 funk stretching back to January, the Washington Capitals held a players-only meeting.

And who better to lead this collection of players that have battled together under coach Bruce Boudreau for three years than a player who arrived at the end of last November, right?

Defenseman Scott Hannan(notes), acquired by the Capitals on Nov. 30 from the Colorado Avalanche, has been revealed as the man behind the meeting. From the Washington Post:

According to various team sources, the discussion, which took place after a grossly inconsistent, 4-1 loss to Los Angeles, centered on individual accountability and was prompted by veteran defenseman Scott Hannan, who also happens to be the newest member in the dressing room.

"You're going to go through games and times in the season where things aren't going to go your way," Hannan said. "You can have good games, you can have bad games, but you want to try to stay on an even track. That's what it is in the playoffs; you're going to go through things in a seven-game series that can get you down and you can't let it get you down or away from the plan."

As we saw, thanks to HBO's cameras and through his constant spokesman role in the local media, Mike Knuble(notes) is another veteran leader on this team attempting to elevate its play. That he and Hannan are the only two players to have appeared in a conference final on this roster, and are solidifying a veteran leadership presence, is not coincidence.

Are their words resonating?

"Of course," captain Alex Ovechkin(notes) said, when asked if it's important to have the wisdom of older players shape the team. "It's always nice when different people come and they give us some advice and see what's happening and what we have to change. [Hannan's] the kind of guy that we need."

We imagine the immediate reaction here will be, "So why didn't the captain call the meeting and make the speech?"

The short answer is that not every captain is the guy to lead the meeting. Especially when that player is, let's face it, part of the problem.

The long answer is that the Capitals knew what they were getting when they put the 'C' on Ovechkin: a player that leads by example, can fire up his team on the ice and that isn't exactly Herb Brooks in the room.

The problem is that Ovechkin hasn't done all that much leading by example this season. As we noted last week, his scoring the first goal of the game used to be the norm; happening close to 10 times a season. It's happened three times in 57 games in 2010-11. He has seven game-winners but one overtime goal; he does have two game-deciding goals in the shootout.

Having watched the Capitals loss at the Phoenix Coyotes this week, and a bit more of Ovechkin this season than he has, I'll disagree with Bourne on his effort. It was one of the more engaged and energetic performances he's had recently.

But it didn't result in a goal, and it didn't result in a win. So if he doesn't hold the pom-poms in the locker room, and he's not inspiring his teammates to victory on the ice, it's only fair to criticize the captain as a catalyst for their middling efforts.

We're telling you ... it's the razors:

Translation, from the great Alex Ovetjkin blog:

Some say it's a bad omen, you can't shave before important games. A good excuse for a hockey player with a sensitive skin. But now I have Gillette Fusion Proglide Power Razor, blah, blah... :-) So now I have Gillette and no "примет" (pree-met) (no omens)

It's a bad omen, dude. Cancel the deal.

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