Here are the top 10 Capitals of 2008, according to me. Players/members of the organization were chosen based on their teamwork, achievements, impact on Washington hockey, and overall impact on the team. Nos. 1 through 5 will be posted Thursday. I encourage you to post your own top 10 on your blog or in my comments section.
10. Quintin Laing
Laing's shot-blocking made him a fan favorite and was a small yet critical part of the Capitals' playoff run. Laing gave 110% every night he wore a Capitals sweater, and his efforts are being echoed in the 08-09 season by Tyler Sloan and other Hershey call-ups. When I think of players who sacrificed everything to help the Capitals make the playoffs, Laing is one of the first that comes to mind.
9. Sergei Fedorov
When GM George McPhee sent prospect Theo Ruth to Columbus for the aging Russian superstar, McPhee was hoping the old dog still had one good fight left in him. Not only did Fedorov have more than one good fight left, but his presence would transform fellow Russian Alexander Semin into a smart, mature player. Fedorov's leadership was a key part of the Capitals' playoff push and has helped mature a young team.
8. Brent Johnson
Talk about a team player, after spending the playoffs scratched and watching at home, Johnson has become one of the most important Capitals of 2008. When free-agent Jose Theodore failed to meet expectations at the beginning of the 08-09 season, Johnson rose to the occasion, providing solid goaltending through the month of November. Johnson's selflessness and heart make him one of the top Capitals of 2008.
7. George McPhee
When former coach Glen Hanlon was fired in 2007, many wondered if McPhee would soon follow. On the eve of 2009, McPhee still has his job and has assembled one of the best squads in Capitals history. McPhee's masterwork of 2008 was trading Theo Ruth for Sergei Fedorov and sending a second round draft pick to Montreal for Cristobal Huet. When the injury bug hit, McPhee displayed the organizational depth of the Capitals as four Hershey defensemen were dressed at the same time and helped contribute to Capitals' wins. The future looks bright, and Caps fans can send a few thanks to George McPhee for that.
6. Brooks Laich
Some players are born fan favorites, while others earn their fans. Brooks Laich not only earned his fans in 2008, but has become a key player for the Washington Capitals. When captain Chris Clark was injured in 2007, Laich rose to the occasion, scoring 21 goals and finishing with a career high of 37 points. Fans grew to love his heart-and-soul play as well as his quotes. How can you not love a guy who tells you, "When you want bread, go to the bakery; when you want goals, go to the net."