This off-season the Capitals ended their 17 year relationship with the team's General Manager, George McPhee, who oversaw the team's only Stanley Cup run in 1998 and a very successful rebuild that essential put DC on the Hockey Map.
McPhee has done a hell of a lot of good for the Washington Capitals organization. Unfortunately for him and for Cap's fans his legacy in Washington will probably be remembered more for not being able to get the incredibly talented Washington Capitals, who he rebuilt through the draft and trades, back to the Stanley Cup during the Alex Ovechkin Era. McPhee is definitely not without blame either. He made mistakes and definitely made more and bigger mistakes towards the end of his tenure with mounting pressure to succeed in the post-season. The most notorious being the Filip Forsberg trade, which has been heavily criticized since the day it was made.
McPhee's been here for 17 years and it was probably a good idea to move on from him to allow a fresh perspective to be objective in analyzing the current roster construction. It was time to move on from McPhee, but I feel like way too many Capitals fans have made McPhee the scape-goat for the Capitals. Yes, he made some poor decisions most notably in the hiring of his coaches, which is probably my biggest issue with McPhee's tenure, but who knows if he was truly allowed to pick "his guy". I've read multiple times that Adam Oates was not McPhee's first choice, but rather that of the Cap's brass. McPhee was hot for John Cooper, who is a Jack Adams candidate for 2013-14.
I am starting to ramble so I'll get to the point, which is to be careful for what for.
I agree that it was time to move on from McPhee, but only if the Cap's were certain they would be able to find a better replacement. As much as McPhee has become a punching bag for the Cap's fan base he was the architect of the team that essentially changed the expectations for the Capitals that just making the playoffs was no longer acceptable. So let's not forget that what we had was a pretty good thing and hope Ted and Dick know how to hire a quality GM. (Something Ted has never had to do before).
I know McPhee made some bad trades and personnel moves, but IMHO he was able to accomplish far more good during his tenure.
1. He navigated the Capitals through a extremely successful re-build
2. The VC sells out every night and DC is now considered a "Hockey Town" to the NHL., which is a major reason we have played in 1 winter classic and are hosting next year's Winter Classic.
3. Prior to this season the Capitals had made the post-season 6 consecutive seasons, which was one of the longest runs in the NHL. That stretch included a President's Trophy and multiple division championships. The Capitals were often pre-season Stanley Cup favorites until the last couple of years.
4. The Capitals have been one of the best drafting teams in the NHL during McPhee's tenure. The team was very successful in the 1st Round. The Caps have developed a track record of finding steals at the end of the 1st Rd, but struggled outside of the initial round. In recent years, the Caps have become much better at finding NHL talent outside of round 1. (D. Orlov Rd2, C. Eakin Rd3, M. Perreault Rd5, B. Holtby Rd4, P. Grubauer Rd4, P. Wey Rd4, R. Barber Rd6, C. Carrick Rd5).
NOTE: I HAVE NO CLUE IF THE CAPITALS SCOUTING DEPARTMENT & PLAYER DEVELOPMENT SHOULD BE GIVEN MORE CREDIT THAN MCPHEE. REGARDLESS, MCPHEE HIRED THE SCOUTING AND PLAYER DEVELOPMENT STAFFS.
5. After our prospect pool had been depleted by trades & graduations the Caps made an concerted effort to "re-stock" the cupboards a few years back. The Caps have seemingly again found late 1st Rd gems in Kuznetsov, Burakovsky & Wilson while hitting on their only lottery pick in F. Forsberg. We've drafted some quality prospects in the later rounds who's developments are very optimistic and found some talent from the NCAA UFA pool. McPhee was in the midst of building a pretty bad-ass prospect pool that featured high-end talent and depth with a nice mix of skill sets.
6. GMGM left the Capitals in very good shape for the next GM.
- Essentially no terrible contracts and a lot of Cap Flexibility heading into 2014-15.
- A talented and relatively young current roster. (More importantly the franchise cornerstones are still young and in their prime years).
- A strong prospect pool with a good amount of players on the verge of being NHL ready. The also have some interesting LT projects with good upside. (Plus, we'll be adding a lottery pick next month)
- The prospect talent should provide the Caps with valuable cost controlled RFAs and ELCs.
- Caps have all of their draft picks for the 2014 & 2015 NHL Drafts and added additional mid-round picks.
I think McPhee was a very good GM, who had his up's and down's, but accomplished a lot of good for the Caps. While his time has run it's course in DC I REALLY REALLY hope that Ted & Dick are able to find a better option.