Barry Trotz may have very well said everything when he made it a point to say nothing. His semantically harmless response when questioned on the effectiveness of Alexander Ovechkin in Game 7 required an amount of restraint that is characteristic of a sober person describing what went wrong in their failed marriage. If that didn't give you a little insight to how he felt about his captain's performance then you're probably a neutral zone liability since you clearly have trouble reading between the lines. Now, I can't - in good conscience - sit here and tell you that Alexander the Gr8 is the main reason that the Capitals' have a another long summer of self loathing ahead of them when Braden Holtby just removed the diaper he tested the limits of over the last seven games. I can, on the other hand, echo the unspoken sentiment of their head coach in saying that he definitely didn't live up to his nickname.
This, however, isn't about whether or not Ovechkin did all he could to prevent the two goals that he got a first hand look at as they sealed what has become his team's annual fate. This is about whether or not his team's annual fate would differ without him there at all.
There's no denying that a change of scenery can be good for a player, just as an influx of new faces can be good for a franchise that needs to cut ties with it's oldest friend, darkness. In a perfect world, trading potentially the best goal scorer of all time could garner a return that would benefit both parties and hopefully chase away the ghosts of playoffs' past. Can you imagine how much better off Washington would be if they flipped a dynamic winger whose defensive abilities/smarts leave a lot to be desired in exchange for a two-way, first-pairing defenseman that can eat 25 minutes a night and play in all situations? It would almost seem too good to be true, and that's because getting thee most coveted of asset for nothing more than a scapegoat that couldn't even crack the top 6 when it mattered most is too good to be true.
By selling low the Capitals would be wrapping a perennial 30 goal scorer and the most dangerous power play weapon in the entire NHL in "postseason conundrum" packaging. With that type of unintentional sales pitch, I just don't see how moving him could end up being a net positive in the short term. Technically speaking, the best regular season team of the last two years is still very much a championship contender - even if they constantly fail to contend for a championship. Does dismissing their leader - albeit one who lacks leadership qualities - for below market value increase their chances of shaking a stigma that's become a self fulfilling prophecy? It's an exceedingly difficult question to answer, and that's why I would strip him of the 'C' and make his drop down the lineup permanent before I even dared to say what Barry Trotz wanted to say. Not just because I think it could help alter what is now a laughable identity, but because history shows that getting 77 cents on the dollar doesn't make it any easier to bust through a glass ceiling.