November 23, 2010
It was a terrible night for the Washington Capitals in New Jersey on Monday, to the point where defenseman John Erskine(notes) Tweeted "Sorry caps fans.... That was embarrassing" after their 5-0 loss to the lowly New Jersey Devils. It was their second consecutive 5-0 loss on the road, and their third loss in a row.
Capitals players were appropriately solemn in postgame comments, and coach Bruce Boudreau tried to match that tone during his media scrum. Which was difficult when Alex Ovechkin(notes), Alex Semin and Devils forward Ilya Kovalchuk(notes) were yukking it up like it was the front row at a Yakov Smirnoff concert just steps away from Boudreau's press conference.
It was something that Boudreau didn't seem all that pleased about.
The loudest guffaw is at the 47-second mark in this clip. Boudreau's reaction is the kind of look a group of children receive while giggling at a funeral reception. At the 5:30 mark, Corey Masisak of CSN Washington asks the big question: Does it bother you that the Alexes are joyously fraternizing with the enemy steps away from your press conference?
Boudreau's reaction, after a pause: "I'll reserve my thoughts on that, if you don't mind."
There was a group of media members waiting for Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau just outside the Washington dressing room for his post-game press conference. Majority owner Ted Leonsis and general manager George McPhee were down the hall about 20 feet towards where the Capitals' team bus awaited. Ovechkin and Kovalchuk were conversing in the hallway between the two locker rooms -- about 10 feet from where Boudreau would be speaking.
Both players appeared to be in good spirits, and were laughing and smiling with each other. It was a stark contrast to how somber Ovechkin was when he addressed reporters a few minutes before. Other players were leaving the dressing room for the bus having already showered and in their suits, while Ovechkin talked to Kovalchuk in a t-shirt and shorts.
Alexander Semin(notes) came out of the room and turned right towards the bus when Ovechkin yelled for him. Semin gave him a disgruntled look, but capitulated and joined the other guys in the discussion.
It is uncommon, however, for the spirits to be that high and for anyone with a recorder or a camera to be near the reunion.
And it's frankly unacceptable for Ovechkin to put himself in a situation where this becomes a story. Boudreau dropped him to the third line against Jersey. He hasn't scored a goal in four straight, and has two goals in nine games. It's not the best run for Ovechkin right now.
But above all that: He's the captain. And the impression left on his coach and on his fans Tuesday morning is that a 6-4 block of granite named John Erskine handled himself better after this defeat than the guy with the 'C'.
Again, players from opposing teams seek each other out after games all the time.But this felt ... different, via Masisak:
The interaction between Ovechkin and Kovalchuk seemed over the top considering both the team's and his situation. It gave off an almost uncomfortable, "is this really happening?" vibe with the media members waiting for Boudreau.
Maybe it wasn't a big deal, but maybe it really was. Either way, it is hard to imagine what kind of explosive reaction had the same situation been recreated in a more intense media environment like Toronto or Montreal.
Let's hope for the Caps sake that HBO left its camera back in D.C.