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.
There were a few common themes to the Capitals’ last postseason interviews, before they went their separate ways for summer. The first question posed was always about Dale Hunter, who has made the decision to return to the London Knights franchise in Ontario rather than stay on to coach the Caps. The team expressed universal admiration and gratitude for what he brought to the Capitals in his short tenure, often focusing less on his system than on the character and sense of accountability he was able to instill.
There was clear disappointment at the early ending to the season, but a different tone to the team’s assessment of their year than the year before — many of the Caps mentioned that they thought they were able to go out in a way that they feel better about this year, though of course they’d all still rather be playing hockey.
Read on for the details of Jay Beagle‘s injury, Brooks Laich standing outside Hunter’s window holding a boombox, and Hunter’s odd career model for Alexander Ovechkin.
Dale Hunter played 872 games as a Washington Capitals player. He lasted just 74 behind the team’s bench.
“When I retired as a hockey player I had to retire because I was not that good anymore,” Hunter said with a laugh at his final press conference at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. “But this was a tough decision.”
Hunter’s choice was not easy to make. But the reasons that ultimately lead him to make the determination seem clear. The 51-year-old former Caps captain is heading back to London, Ontario to rejoin his family and his empire. There, he co-owns the OHL’s London Knights with his brother Mark. The siblings run everything. Before taking over as Washington’s bench boss, he served as the junior club’s general manager and head coach, positions that his brother assumed in November. The team finished this season with a 49-18-1 record, winning the OHL championship. They now have a chance to take home the biggest prize in juniors, the Memorial Cup.
“I’m going home,” Hunter said Monday. “I’ve got a good thing going at home there and I’ll stay there.”
We learned a week ago that Washington Capitals General Manager George McPheecan get quite animated during games. During the third period of Game Seven, McPhee’s emotions boiled over late while the Caps power play sputtered.
The Capitals trailed from the onset, but they suffered what seemed to be a death blow when Michael Del Zotto rifled a shot past Braden Holtby to put the Rangers up 2-0 with 9:55 to go in the final frame. A goal from Roman Hamrilk gave the team life just 38 seconds later, and then the Capitals got a gift: Ruslan Fedotenko‘s delay-of-game penalty.
But instead of converting the man advantage, the Caps squandered it in an embarrassing fashion, setting up shorthanded chances for the Rangers and spending most of their time stuck in their own zone. The low point was when one of the Caps attempted a dangerous no-look pass that nearly ended up in their own net.
CBC caught McPhee in the rafters watching the mess. He was — uh — unhappy.
16 years ago when I was in middle school, I suffered through the second longest Capitals game in franchise history. The Caps were playing the Penguins in the 1996 playoffs and boy did I hate the Pens. Of course, you know the story. Petr Nedved ended the game in quadruple overtime with a harmless wrist shot from the sideboards past Olie Kolzig. The game ended around 2 AM and I cried all night. The next day, depressed and without any sleep, I failed both an English and a math quiz.
Well, apparently I’m not the only one that overtime playoff hockey does this to.
On Wednesday night, Hockey Night in Canada showed a montage at the end of the game showing Caps General Manger George McPhee freaking out during sudden death overtime. The normally poker-faced McPhee looks like the most uncomfortable man in the arena, standing up, sitting down, twisting and turning with the action as if he could steer the players. As the CBC announcer so beautifully states: “The pressure on McPhee: you can just see it in his face.”
Check out the video below the jump. Trust us, it’s worth a look.
George McPhee has not seen a season this tumultuous since the events that led up to the acquisition of Alex Ovechkin back in 2004. He’s dismissed a coach and watched his team fall from the top of the standings to a precarious spot on the proverbial bubble.
Now, as the Washington Capitals prepare for one last playoffs push, McPhee has the challenge of managing assets at all stages of their careers. That includes 37-year-old Roman Hamrlik, who was signed over the offseason to a two-year, $7 million deal, and 39-year old Mike Knuble, who will be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end — both of whom have been scratched from recent games.
McPhee’s attitude towards his veteran players, however, is anything but cynical. In his 14 years as general manager of the Capitals, McPhee, whose nickname is The Undertaker, has revealed something of a softer side.
On Monday, there was a great deal of confusion about why the Capitals didn’t make any roster moves — after both owner and general manager expressed a desire to buy, many were left wondering why they never did. Luckily, we got an exclusive look at General Manager George McPhee’s Facebook Timeline, and we think it may shed some light on the mysterious events of February 27, the Tradeless Deadline.
It was to the surprise of more or less everyone, then, that the Caps made no roster moves whatsoever. It was announced through a team spokesman around 3:00 that the Caps did not expect to be making any trades, and this was confirmed by General Manager George McPhee at a 5:00 PM press conference where he addressed the events of the day — or lack thereof.
By this time Monday, Capitals general manager George McPhee will have already made whatever moves he has deemed wise for the future of his club. With all the prognostication and educated guessing about trade scenarios going around, I have decided not to add any noise to an already muffled signal.
Instead, we conclude this series with a look at two Capitals players who will loom large on Monday in one way or another. Those players are Mike Knuble and Tomas Vokoun.