Las Vegas General Manager George McPhee seems to be on a big game hunt in Northern Virginia. Tuesday, the team to be named later announced the hiring of Vojtech Kucera as its Director of European scouting. Kucera’s previous employer is the Washington Capitals, where he had been a European scout for 16 years, most of them under McPhee.
Two weeks ago, Hockey Night In Canada’s Elliotte Friedman reported that Las Vegas asked the Capitals for permission to interview Ross Mahoney, opening up the possibility that the Caps’ current assistant GM could reunite with McPhee, Mahoney’s longtime friend and mentor. 11 days later, McPhee announced the hiring of the 55-year-old McCrimmon.
Photo: Chris Gordon
ESPN’s Scott Burnside has learned that former Washington Capitals General Manager George McPhee will be announced as the first GM of the NHL’s new Las Vegas franchise on Wednesday. McPhee, who has been working as a special assistant to New York Islanders’ GM Garth Snow for the last 10 months, spent 17 years in Washington. In 1998, McPhee took the Caps franchise to its first and only Stanley Cup Final appearance.
According to Burnside, McPhee’s experience put him over the top. Las Vegas owner Bill Foley, along with adviser/former NHL player Murray Craven, interviewed as many as seven candidates.
For 17 years, George McPhee served as the Washington Capitals’ General Manager and Vice President of Hockey Operations. He presided over many drafts and selected superstars like Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Nicklas Backstrom, and Braden Holtby.
But on Saturday, McPhee — now serving a different role as a special advisor to Garth Snow — left the New York Islanders table on the floor of First Niagara Center and found a seat in the crowd. He had a different role to perform once the fourth round of the draft began: being a dad.
“After all the years in the business, it’s torture sitting there,” McPhee said to Sports Illustrated’s Alex Prewitt about the experience.
Photo: Capitals Instagram
Yesterday, Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan spoke to the media about the first half of the Caps’ season. A large chunk of the conversation revolved around Mike Green and his upcoming UFA status, which Adam Vingan documented on NBC Washington.
MacLellan was also briefly asked about the lopsided Filip Forsberg trade and what he thought of him as a player. He replied honestly.
“I think he’s played well,” MacLellan said. “Obviously he’s one of the leading candidates for the Calder Trophy.”
He continued, “If you’re asking if I would like to do a do-over [on the trade]? Yeah. Sure.” Then he nodded his head a few times and flashed a coy smile. This became a national story.
Is it even fair for MacLellan to have to answer to this deal nearly two years after it was signed off on by his then-boss George McPhee? RMNB investigates.
Photo: Dave Sandford
On Wednesday, ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun released a fascinating feature on former Capitals General Manager George McPhee and former Penguins GM Ray Shero, which you must read right here right now because you have nothing else better to do.
So what did we learn today?
Photo: Chris Gordon
“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.”
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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