It was the end of my first season coaching the Washington Capitals. We weren't very good. We came in last place.
I came in there and the team had struggled before I got there. I think they played 35-40 games and won maybe once. When I got there, Mr. Pollin, who owned the team, told me he mainly wanted us to be a hard-working team. Where even if we didn't win much, he wanted us to be tough as hell to play against.
We weren't going to be the Montreal Canadiens or the Boston Bruins. But boy did we work hard.
Although we didn't win much after I got there, they appreciated the hard work there in Washington. At the end of my first season, they had a big jamboree in the parking lot at the Capital Centre.
We hadn't won much, but we were competitive, so we had this big ole' jamboree in the parking lot and Mr. Pollin was there. We were up on stage and the crowd was screaming my name. Chanting my name.
"We love you, coach."
I had been with a lot of hockey teams, both as a player and a coach. It wasn't until I coached the new Washington Capitals that I had a crowd chant for me like this.
The crowd was chanting my name at the end of a season where we came in last place.
I look over at Mr. Pollin and he was clapping, too.
Mr. Pollin mouthed over to me: "I love you also, coach."
Me being a clown, I said: "Will you still love me, Mr. Pollin, when we don't make the playoffs again next year?"
He said: "sure, I'll miss you, too."