After missing the playoffs for the first time since 2007, Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis made massive changes to his
organization this morning by firing coach Adam Oates and opting to not renew the contract of GM George McPhee.
McPhee has seen many highs and lows in Washington since becoming the GM of the team in 1997. According to Leonsis, “George has been a terrific, longtime executive for our franchise, and I’m grateful for his commitment to the Capitals organization for the past 17 years,”.
Adam Oates, despite just coaching the team for a couple seasons, was also let go by being fired. Leonsis also gave him some high praise:
We are also appreciative of Adam’s efforts and thank him for his devotion, work ethic and contributions to the Capitals the past two seasons. He is a smart, tactical coach who improved the performance of several of our players. He is a Hall of Fame player who we believe will be a longtime coach in the NHL. We will help him in whatever way we are able and wish him well.
After being a sure-fire playoff team at the start of the season, the Capitals did not impress despite boasting a lineup with superstars like Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. Many people believe it is tough to coach a team with Ovechkin on it (Bruce Boudreau was fired, but is enjoying success in Anaheim) and tough to put the right pieces around Ovechkin. Owner Ted Leonsis made these changes in order to make the team return to be Stanley Cup contenders. Change was necessary.
George McPhee experienced the rise, fall, and rise of a team that had many different stars during his tenure. He turned around a team that was known for performing badly in the playoffs, if they even made it. They went on to win seven Southeast Division banners under him. He is infamously known for, however, punching then-Chicago Blackhawks coach Lorne Molleken in 1999 after perceiving that they played a dirty game against his team. He was fined $20,000 and suspended for a month.
McPhee then performed one of the largest fire sales ever seen in any sport in 2003-04 by getting rid of the large salaries of Sergei Gonchar, Jaromir Jagr, Peter Bondra, Michael Nylander, Steve Konowalchuk, Mike Grier, and Robert Lang. It paid off, however, because they got the first overall pick in 2004 and it was a guy by the name of Alex Ovechkin.
Adam Oates struggled as the coach of the Capitals in two seasons with the club, but built up of good assistant coaching resume before that. Many credit him for developing Steven Stamkos’ offense production when he was the assistant in Tampa, and he helped the underrated New Jersey Devils make it to the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals while he was an assistant there.
Early names for the new GM job include Jim Rutherford and Don Fishman while Barry Trotz and Mike Haviland are probably going to be in the mix for the coaching job.