Photos by Chris Gordon
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.”
Photo: Jacquelyn Martin
Today was a weird day. I’ve run into George McPhee many times, both as a tiny Caps fan and as an adult blogger. I really like him. And I loved Adam Oates as a player.
But, obviously, the Washington Capitals needed a change – the trade requests and the revolving door of coaches suggested serious dysfunction in the organization. Today, majority owner Ted Leonsis and team president Dick Patrick hit the reset button, firing GMGM and Oates.
While some readers are openly celebrating the firings (which I totally get), this is also a painful moment for the people involved– most notably Leonsis and Patrick, whose decisions led the team down this path.
Both men spoke to the media on Saturday and you could tell it was not a press conference they enjoyed.
There wasn’t a lot of news in their words, but their faces spoke volumes.
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.
His mother Tatyana won two Olympic gold medals in basketball for Team Russia, so Alex Ovechkin has always had a love for the sport. He’s gone to Dynamo basketball games. He’s been featured playing basketball (shirtless, of course) with his friends in his DVD. He’s even shot around with BFF Nicky Backstrom during one of Bruce Boudreau’s press conferences.
On Wednesday night, on his day off, Ovechkin took fiancee Maria Kirilenko and his new best bud in the whole wide world, Evgeny Kuznetsov, to the Wizards/Suns game at Verizon Center.
It appears they had fun.
Seems like we’re not the only ones getting the kinks out after nineteen days off. In addition to the Caps blowing a two-goal lead to the Florida Panthers, CSN Washington’s broadcast was not exactly error free either.
First, the low camera angle caught a cotton candy guy selling his wares in the foreground instead of, ya know, hockey. And then, just a moment later, this.
United States Secretary of State John Kerry is in the house tonight and boy is he a busy dude. After meeting with Washington Capitals Olympians Alex Ovechkin, John Carlson, Nicklas Backstrom, and Martin Erat, Kerry talked shopped with Caps coach and hockey hall of famer Adam Oates, who used to play for Kerry’s beloved Boston Bruins. Kerry also did an interview for CRL with Elliot In The Morning, accepted a Caps jersey from Majority Owner Ted Leonsis, and then dropped the ceremonial first puck before the game.
Ted Leonsis, the Washington Capitals’ gregarious owner, is almost always at the Verizon Center for home games. Tuesday was no different, as he and his son Zach took their usual seats in the Owner’s Box.
After Mike Green‘s first-period penalty hat trick, things looked dire. …That is until Uncle Ted changed the fate of his team and the order of the universe with one decision. Like in those Bud Light commercials.
Photo credit: Greg Fiume
Towards the end of the first period and with the Washington Capitals down 3-0 to the Montreal Canadiens, Comcast SportsNet panned to the owner’s box. Ted Leonsis was was sitting there with the greatest player of all-time, Wayne Gretzky. The Great One was chatting non-stop.
The Caps and Pens face-off in the 2011 Winter Classic. (Photo credit: Brian Babineau)
For the past few days we’ve waited with bated breath to find out what, exactly, Uncle Ted would reveal on Saturday morning at Caps Con. An outdoor game? A new retired number? Moving the team to Baltimore? Well, Friday morning news broke (via The Washington Post’s Katie Carrera) that the Washington Capitals will be hosting next year’s Winter Classic.
The Caps have been promised an outdoor game for the past few years, so this isn’t surprising. Still, it’s exciting that a big outdoor event — and there are too many of those to count these days — will finally be coming to DC, likely to Nationals Park. Ted should fill in the gaps for us on Saturday.
So, what do Caps fans think of being on hockey’s center stage?
“About damn time!” Beth Dunn exclaimed when I asked her about the news. “It was the worst kept secret ever.”
Ted shields his eyes — as he should — while walking past the Stanley Cup. (Photo credit: Chip Somodevilla)
When the NHL lockout ended in the early morning hours of January 6, some wondered if the fans would come back. Having endured their third work stoppage since 1994, a fair number of hockey fans insisted they wouldn’t. But, in the end, fans showed up at the rink.
Despite its delayed start, this was a successful year for the NHL and the Players Association. Despite shooting themselves in the foot, the bleeding appears to have been minimal. Wednesday’s game between the Bruins and Hawks became the most watched game one of the Stanley Cup Final since 1997.
With the CBA sorted out for the next ten years and the sport doing well, the owners and the players are starting to reconcile.
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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