Willie Desjardins of AHL’s Texas Stars is one of the best coaches not currently in the NHL (Photo: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

The common thought among Capitals fans is that the team’s new coach must have NHL experience. The Caps last five hires — Adam Oates, Dale Hunter, Bruce Boudreau, Glen Hanlon, and Bruce Cassidy — were all rookie head coaches. This time around, names like Barry Trotz and John Stevens are getting a lot of buzz, whereas Willie Desjardins and Phil Housley are getting little.

Experience matters. All other things being equal, you should hire the guy with more experience, but that does not mean the Caps should discount what a rookie coach might bring. Because if a coach’s best quality is his experience, that’s not a great sign.

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Caps PK

Embiggen.

If you ask the NHL, the Washington Capitals penalty kill was the 16th best in the land this season. They allowed 51 goals and escaped 82% of their shorthanded sessions unscathed, which doesn’t sound so bad. But actually the Caps PK was really, really, really, really bad. They were one of the worst ever, as far as I can tell.

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On Monday, CRL host and beer aficionado Alan May went on Elliot in the Morning to discuss all the recent hubbub regarding the Capitals.

May, who’s not really reserved when on TV, released the kraken on Adam Oates. It’s almost like he’s been waiting months to say this.

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McPhee (7 of 14)

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.

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Boy, it did not take long for this to happen.

Photo via an email from reader Eric W.

The Micromanager: Adam Oates’s Downfall

Breakdown Day (12 of 12)

Gone. (Photo: Chris Gordon)

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.

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oates

News straight out of Arlington: Adam Oates and George McPhee will not return next season.

Oates’ final record with the team: 65 wins, 48 losses, and 17 overtime losses. George McPhee’s Caps advanced past the second round of the playoffs just once, in his first year.

No word on replacements yet. We’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, we’ve recorded a video to say goodbye to Oates. It’s worth your time.

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BAP Golf: The Saddest Hockey Cards You’ll Ever See

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As a kid (and definitely definitely not as an adult), I was a collector of hockey cards. I took pride in my Capitals collection. Like, I have every Pat Peake card ever made, and I don’t even care what you think.

The other night I was cleaning up my office downstairs and I noticed the above card of still Capitals coach Adam Oates, which I had completely forgotten. Please note that’s not Oatesy swinging a hockey stick – that’s a golf club. And he’s also wearing those high-waisted jeans again.

This card was produced by Be A Player (now owned by In the Game), which was a wildly popular brand of trading cards back in the day because it included so many autographs in their sets. I thought Be A Player would become one of the titans in the industry, but I can tell you when things started to go very, very wrong: in 2002-03 when they produced these hideous golf card inserts.

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The Three Futures of the Washington Capitals

It’s been ten days since the Washington Capitals’ season ended and the proverbial axe has yet to fall. As of press time, both George McPhee and Adam Oates are still gainfully employed. That has some people upset.

I get it. I’m a bit surprised the team hasn’t acted yet. And this period of uncertainty doesn’t come without consequences, among them the possible loss of pending free agent Mikhail Grabovski. That would be bad, but I’m trying to see it from the owners’ perspective.

The Caps are at a fork in the road. I can see three potential futures ahead of the team, and now Ted Leonsis has to choose one. It’s a daunting decision, one that merits careful deliberation and planning. If the Caps pick incorrectly– or fail to properly execute that decision– things could get grim and dark. Things could get grimdark.

Here are all the ways I can I see it going.

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Off to the Golf Course: Caps Breakdown Day in Photos

Breakdown Day (6 of 12)

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.

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