Since the Washington Capitals ran aground in the second round of the playoffs, their front office has had meetings with Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Mike Green, Brooks Laich — the core Caps, in other words. The subject of the sit-downs? Leadership.

Jason Arnott, after all, is gone now. So is Sergei Fedorov, the Jason Arnott of 2008 and 2009. So, come to think of it, are Boyd Gordon, Eric Fehr and Matt Bradley — all Capitals of fairly long standing.

"The whole discussion was: It's time for you guys to take over," general manager George McPhee said Monday at the Caps' development camp at Kettler Iceplex.

Or to put it another way: You're not kids anymore.

"That's right. They're some of our top players, and they need to be top players if we're going to have success. It's about coming to camp in the best shape of their lives …"

(Feel free to read between the lines here.)

"… It's about taking care of themselves during the season …"

(Feel free to read between the lines here, too.)

"- It's about being coachable. It's about talking to the other players if they're not doing the right things and straightening them out."

In recent years, that job might have fallen more to Fedorov, Arnott, Mike Knuble or some other veteran whose name is chiseled on the Stanley Cup. No longer. Captain Ovie and the others are the stage of their careers where they must become the keepers of the flame.