"The Bears are basically the same team that last season, as the Portland Pirates, failed to make the playoffs,"as if to imply that these guys aren't as good as they are playing now. Which they may not be. But they're likely a lot closer to what they're showing now than what they showed last year for the simple reason that most prospects LEARN and IMPROVE with EXPERIENCE. That's what they do. An additional (or first) year of pro hockey for a teenager or a kid in his early twenties can make any young player a superstar, a wash-out or anything in between. If you don't believe me, watch how good what's-his-name is next year.
Further, they're really not even close to the same team as last year's Portland Pirates. For example, Eric Fehr and Mike Green - two of Hershey's most important cogs in this playoff run - were still in juniors last year. Tomas Fleischmann was in his first professional season. Kris Beech was stuck in the hell-hole that is Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Lawrence Nycholat was in Hartford. Dave Steckel was in Manchester. The coaching staff is entirely different. I could go on, but won't. It's a dumb, poorly-researched point by Fay and we'll leave it at that.
Overall, Fay's talent assessments - both of the Bears players and the Caps' lineup - are woeful and this unnecessarily skeptical article on the eve of, perhaps, a Calder Cup Championship is an utter waste of paper, pixels and newsprint. He shall get no emoticon from me.