Photo: Chris Gordon
After this season, with the futures of Adam Oates and George McPhee in doubt, many wondered what the relationship was like between the two men. There was good reason to. During Oates’s administration, McPhee made two major offensive acquisitions: Dustin Penner and Martin Erat. While McPhee talked up both players as top-six powerhouses, Oates never gave them significant minutes on the top two lines. During his final press conference as the Capitals general manager, McPhee declined to talk about whether there was a row with Oates.
“I don’t want to talk about individuals because when you do that you either miss somebody that you should be praising and people get upset, and I just would rather have a happy day and duck individual talk,” McPhee said, adding later that Oates’s firing “was unfortunate for Adam because it was a short tenure.”
However, McPhee heaped praise on Bruce Boudreau, a coach he personally fired, and Dale Hunter, whose departure led to Oates’s hiring.
“I just felt like we had a real good run there for five years and certainly loved working with Bruce,” McPhee said when asked when the Caps’ Stanley Cup window started to close. “I loved working with Dale. That might have been it, when Dale didn’t come back. I thought he did a tremendous job of making this a team and sort of resetting after that, getting a new coach, I just thought we were a little thin on players coming into the system.”
“He’s an outstanding coach and a good guy,” McPhee added of Boudreau.
While McPhee wasn’t effusive when discussing Oates’s time behind the bench, he made no overt criticisms of the former Capital. Here’s what McPhee concluded when asked if the myriad of coaching changes hurt the team.
“No, I don’t think so,” McPhee said. “I don’t want to be negative here. We missed the playoffs by three points for the first time in seven years. We’re doing something really well. Systems don’t matter a whole lot. That should be 10 to 15 percent of what you’re doing. That’s your foundation. It’s about coaching and making it work and our coaches have been making it work.”
So, what do you guys think — was there a disconnect between Oates and McPhee or is this a manufactured storyline?