For the second time in three years, there will be no Caps Convention this summer. This time, ostensibly, the reason is so that the Caps can devote time and money toward preparations for the 2015 Winter Classic, which the Capitals will likely host at Nationals Park. The news was first reported by Alex Prewitt of The Washington Post.
“This season we are thrilled to be hosting the 2015 Bridgestone Winter Classic on Jan. 1, 2015, and have many exciting events and experiences planned around the event to help celebrate our fabulous fan base,” a Capitals spokesman told The Post in a statement. “Due to this big event, we will be focusing all of our efforts on the Winter Classic and will not hold a Caps Convention.”
Alex Ovechkin is the most important person under contract with the Washington Capitals, more pivotal than either the general manager or the head coach. Signed to a 13-year, $124 million dollar deal in 2008, Ovechkin has become the Caps. His jersey sales sustain the team off the ice while his goal scoring provides the plurality of their offense. The preeminent task for his coach, then, is to manage him effectively. Barry Trotz, hired Monday by Washington, will now have to do that.
“It starts with a relationship,” Trotz told reporters from the Verizon Center club level yesterday. “I know I’m going to work at that but it can’t happen until I have a relationship with him because there’s no trust. For me Alex has to trust that I’m giving him the best advice for the team, for him, to grow his game. I don’t know Alex as well. Going against him, I know what he does well, but I need to know Alex the person. Coaching’s not just about Xs and Os, it’s about people.”
“I don’t know if I could give specifics,” Brian MacLellan said when asked how he differs from his former boss George McPhee. “He’s a good friend. He’s a character guy.”
Then MacLellan broke down. After 10 years in the NHL, MacLellan retired from league in 1992. He got an MBA, becoming an investment banker. In 2000, his old college teammate McPhee brought him back to the sport, asking him to join his young administration in Washington as a part-time scout. MacLellan accepted. Thirteen years later, MacLellan was standing up against a wall at Verizon Center having just filled McPhee job. The two talked during MacLellan’s interview process.
“You know, it’s a hard thing,” MacLellan said, gathering himself. “We’re different people. We have different personalities, different way to approach things. I think any two people are different.”
“We’re good friends,” he added. “We’re really good friends, and we’ve grown up together.”
When Adam Oates was introduced as the new Capitals head coach in 2012, the press conference was held in the basement of the Verizon Center. The arena’s interview room is a dingy space that brings to mind a Soviet office building. That was fitting for Oates’s tenure. On a hot Tuesday afternoon in May, Washington introduced the replacement administration. This time, they chose a more auspicious location. After being served a buffet of tilapia and oatmeal raisin cookies, media members sat down in nice padded chairs in the Acela Club to listen to Ted Leonsis, Dick Patrick, Barry Trotz, and Brian MacLellan talk about the future. I’ll have more on that later, but for now, here are my photos of the presser.
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.
Monday morning, George McPhee said goodbye to an organization he’s known for 17 years.
He was charming, not bitter, during his 34-minute press conference at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. Canned on Saturday, McPhee deflected blame toward himself, refusing to discuss individual performances.
“Should I start by saying fire away or is that the wrong terminology?” McPhee joked as he walked up to the podium. “I felt it was coming, but in this job, you’re 24 hours away from being fired almost any time.”
Adam Oates is a smart man. After going undrafted out of college, he turned into a Hall of Fame player. It wasn’t his skill that made him an NHL success, but his elite ability to notice things other people didn’t. Oates had a coaching mind in a player’s body.
“If Adam notices something in a game, he adjusts right away,” Ron Wilson, then the Caps coach, told SI in 2001. “Even if it’s only how somebody is holding his stick. He takes the information, processes it, and puts it to use. The thing about Adam is that he assimilates a lot of stuff at once. Most guys might see one or two things, and the rest is a blur.”
However, years later, when Oates became head coach of the Capitals, that obsession with improving individual players would undermine the team as a whole.
This post isn’t about hockey. Instead of writing depressing things about the Caps, I’m gonna post some pictures of pretty flowers. K?
With the Caps out of the playoffs, it’s time to find some new springtime passions. If you’re not watching hockey, going outside is always a good bet. Sunday, I decided to brave the tourists and take a look at the this year’s cherry blossoms. If you go 7 in the morning you can actually avoid most of the dreaded People From Other States.
After walking around the tidal basin for four hours, I came to a shocking conclusion: DC’s not so bad. Here are my photos.
NHL plus-minus spokesman and hair model Alex Ovechkin speaks for the final time this year. (Photos by Chris Gordon)
Monday was an odd day at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. We entered the day expecting to Adam Oates and George McPhee shed some light of their respective fates — or at least try to defend their time here.
Instead, we got an awkward stand-off with reporters. Within minutes of a spokesman announcing that McPhee would not be meeting the media, the general manager walked out to an area clearly visible to reporters. He chose to hold court with Connor Carrick in front of the entire Capitals press corps before reiterating that he would not speak today.
McPhee’s job — if he doesn’t leave of his own volition — is now in the hands Caps owner Ted Leonsis, who has never fired a general manager.
There were, however, other things that happened at Kettler on Monday: Jay Beagle got asked what he thought of Jay Beagle centering Alex Ovechkin, Dustin Penner ignored reporters to play with his phone, and Brooks Laich said that he really, really, really believes he’s healthy again.
Below, take a look at some of my photos from the day.
Lt. Mosko and his wife Amanda in Hawaii in 2010. (Photo via NY Times)
On April 26, 2012, Lt. Christopher E. Mosko, a Naval explosive ordnance disposal technician, was killed along with two fellow servicemen when they hit a roadside bomb heading into a village. He was 28-years-old.
Lt. Mosko was stationed at a remote 30-man outpost in Zabul province called Camp McPhee. He had been in the military since 2007, joining after getting a degree in finance and engineering at Drexel. He left behind a wife, Amanda. The couple married in 2009 after meeting in R.O.T.C. They both ended up in the Navy. After his death, Lt. Mosko was awarded a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart.
Two years later, Americans have left Camp McPhee. Our involvement in Afghanistan is coming to a close, and Afghans are in the process of electing a new president. While there will likely be an American presence in the country after this year to train Afghan forces, the majority of the troops have already come home. Twelve years after special operations troops chased Osama Bin Laden through the mountains of Tora Bora, the war is winding down with uncertainty and 2,316 American fatalities, including Lt. Mosko.
A few days ago, on a sunny Friday afternoon, I met one of Lt. Mosko’s friends. They grew up together, attending the same high school in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Years later, coincidentally, they found themselves in the same dusty collection of buildings in Central Asia.
“It’s kinda like the Wild West where we were,” the friend said. “It was just on an island out there. Us versus them.”