McPheeInauguration

Karl Alzner and Jeff Schultz rid the Metro, look miserable because they are on the Metro.

Karl Alzner and Jeff Schultz ride the Metro, look miserable because they are on the Metro.

Caption contest! (Photo credit: @tombeline)

The Washington elite and tourists turned out in droves on Monday, filling the nation’s capital for the second inauguration of Barack Obama. Revelers packed the mall and filled (most) of the streets along the parade route. The crowd downtown reached around 800,000 by the time people finally got off their Metro trains, down from the estimated 1.5 million people four years ago. Members of the Washington Capitals were no exception. General Manager George McPhee — a dual citizen of the United States and Canada — scored a spot at the Canadian Embassy, a prime viewing area near the intersection of Constitution and Pennsylvania. From my view next door at the Newseum, the scene looked festive with our friends from the North putting up a large “Canada salutes Barack Obama” banner and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police patrolling their sovereign land.

McPhee wasn’t the only Cap in attendance. Matt Hendricks, an American, posted a picture of Canadians Karl Alzner and Jeff Schultz stuck on MetroRail with approximately 348,236 other people on their way downtown to view the celebrations.

The parade wasn’t much to write home about. Sadly, there were no massive inflatable Muppets. There were, however, a bunch of high school marching bands and a 40 minute delay. And then another couple thousand high school marching bands. But that’s neither here nor there. This was a day to come to together and freeze as one.

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Ovechkin speaks to the media

Miss the media? “Not really,” says Ovechkin. (Photo credit: @SWhyno)

This morning, a bunch of Washington Capitals players jumped back on the ice for an informal practice. Those who skated include Alex Ovechkin, Braden Holtby, Mike Green, Mike Ribeiro, John Carlson, Michal Neuvirth, Matt Hendricks, Jason Chimera, Jay Beagle, Jack Hillen, and John Erskine.

At 11am, Caps general manager George McPhee then spoke to the press for the first time since dinosaurs roamed the earth. GMGM revealed that injured defenseman Dmitry Orlov is “improving” but questionable for opening night (but you already knew that), and side-stepped questions on Nicklas Backstrom’s health, acknowledging that the team can’t examine him until a new CBA is ratified. Hershey Bears defense prospect Cameron Schilling will also be given a shot to make the team out of training camp. McPhee’s full comments are below.

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Photo credit: Bruce Bennett

One of the best moments of this year’s NHL draft was when George McPhee stepped up to the podium to make the first of his draft picks and was roundly booed by Pittsburgh Penguin fans. McPhee responded to the crowd with some sass, “Thank you, Pittsburgh. We’re touched. Thank you.”

Forsberg hugs his dad while Pens fans boo in the background.

Despite the heckling, McPhee somehow found the composure to draft Swedish forward Filip Forsberg with the eleventh overall pick.

Forsberg, sitting alongside his father, mother, younger brother, and two agents, was overjoyed upon hearing McPhee, exchanging hugs with his family and friends. Meanwhile, as he walked down to greet the Caps caravan and get his first ever NHL jersey, the boos — now somewhat softer — rained down from the crowd.

Forsberg did not understand why.

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Photos by Chris Gordon

We know the Capitals have plenty of skill players, but when the team drafted Tom Wilson last month they added something else: a big, bruising forward who isn’t afraid to push people around. In the first two scrimmages of Washington’s Development Camp this week, that something was on display as the 6′ 3″, 205-pound winger bounced around the ice making a myriad of hits and occasionally jawing with prospects on the opposite team. This, it seems, is exactly what Capitals General Manager George McPhee was looking for when he took Wilson 16th overall, somewhat ahead of his projected draft slot.

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Free Agency Open Thread

Today is the day. At noon on Sunday, free agency begins. You should probably read the RMNB guide to free agency immediately.

This is your open thread. In here, we’ll post short little updates (with links to credible sources) about big signings and transactions as they happen. If it’s Caps-related, that bad boy will be bold-faced. Keep refreshing the page as the day goes on, as we’ll be updating throughout.

And sound off in the comments. This is your place to sound off about the departures and arrivals that stir you. We use fancy DISQUS comments now, so you won’t have to refresh to see new posts, just keep an eye out for the “new comments” prompt.

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Photo credit: Manuel Balce Ceneta

Ever since Ron Wilson — the only coach to the take the Washington Capitals to the Stanley Cup Finals — was dismissed after the 2001-02 season, George McPhee has consistently hired head coaches with no NHL experience, with varying degrees of success. While Bruce Cassidy (2002-03) and Glen Hanlon (2003-2007) put up a miserable 125-169-55 record after a combined five seasons, Bruce Boudreau and Dale Hunter had better luck, taking the Caps to the playoffs for five straight years and racking up a 231-111-47 record, the best five-year stretch in the history of the team.

Former Capitals captain Adam Oates, who was introduced to the media Wednesday, continues the trend and is the fifth straight hire without any previous experience as an NHL head coach. However, McPhee is confident that he found what he calls “a real difference maker.”

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GMGM’s finger-circles: an apt metaphor for his negotiations with Ray Shero.

Jordan Staal maniacally laughing.

Since the offseason began, it has been a well-circulated rumor that Penguins center Jordan Staal wanted to leave Pittsburgh to play with his older brother Eric in Carolina. When he turned down an offer of a ten-year deal from the Penguins, that rumor seemed all but confirmed.

It wasn’t much of a surprise then, when Gary Bettman stepped up to the podium at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft and announced that Staal had been traded to the Carolina Hurricanes for a first-round pick, Brandon Sutter, and prospect Brian Dumoulin. Jordan got his wish (to be on a team which someday may only consist of Staal brothers), and apparently nowhere else was even an option.

This was disappointing news to George McPhee, who identified acquiring a respectable second-line center as a major goal this offseason. Despite landing veteran center Mike Ribeiro from Dallas a half an hour before the draft on Friday, McPhee was sarcastic and abnormally expressive (hand motions, stomping) when asked by the media if he had a conversation with Penguins GM Ray Shero about making a deal to bring Jordan Staal to DC.

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Photo via Kristy Morrison

Before General Manager George McPhee even had the chance to select Filip Forsberg with the 11th overall pick of the 2012 NHL Draft, he was met by a loud round of boos by Pittsburgh Penguins fans. Fortunately, a noticeably irritated GMGM brought the sass, and unleashed his fury on the crowd.

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Photo credit: Patrick McDermott

When Dale Hunter’s made his decision to resign as the coach of the Washington Capitals, the disappointment of his players was manifest as they conducted their exit interviews at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. For all the talk of Hunter’s defense-first game plan, the coach’s strategy was barely mentioned by the players. Instead, they praised something else: the accountability he brought to the team. Gone were the days of stars — or captains — getting a free pass. Every player was forced to work together, no matter what line or how much ice team they got.

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Caps General Manger George McPhee Joins Twitter

“How do you follow someone again?” (Photo credit: Bridget Samuels)

For those who keep asking who next coach of Washington Capitals is going to be, you can now direct your questions straight to the man making the decision: @GMMcPhee – better known as Capitals General Manager George McPhee. The Twitter account was recently created and Caps PR confirmed to us it is indeed his.

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