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House cleaning: Capitals part ways with Adam Oates, GM McPhee

Apr 26, 2014, 10:52 AM EDT

George McPhee AP

Missing the playoffs for the first time since 2006-07 didn’t come without consequences for the Washington Capitals.

Capitals owner Ted Leonsis and president Dick Patrick announced they will not renew the contract of general manager George McPhee and have fired coach Adam Oates.

McPhee has been with team since 1997 and his ouster comes as more of a surprise than Oates’ release. That said, if the Capitals were making a change at coach, allowing McPhee to make the decision after going through three coaches in three seasons wouldn’t look good on the organization.

Leonsis released a statement regarding both of them:

“George has been a terrific, longtime executive for our franchise, and I’m grateful for his commitment to the Capitals organization for the past 17 years,”said Leonsis. “Under his leadership the Capitals won seven division titles, twice were the top team in the Eastern Conference, earned a Presidents’ Trophy and competed in the playoffs 10 times. He was a highly effective manager who is extremely well regarded within our organization and around the NHL. We have the utmost respect for him and his family and wish them nothing but the very best.”

“We are also appreciative of Adam’s efforts and thank him for his devotion, work ethic and contributions to the Capitals the past two seasons. He is a smart, tactical coach who improved the performance of several of our players. He is a Hall of Fame player who we believe will be a longtime coach in the NHL. We will help him in whatever way we are able and wish him well.”

Oates record as Caps coach was 65-48-17 in two seasons.

After helping Washington reach the playoffs last season, he wasn’t able to get them to overcome struggles this season and helped exacerbate the situation with curious decisions with the lineup. Oates also upset some in Washington by not throwing a lifeline to goalie Jaroslav Halak late in the year when he reportedly opted out of playing against his former team, the St. Louis Blues.

Oates may have sealed his fate when he sparred with Alex Ovechkin regarding his effort backchecking in a game against Dallas.

  1. stcrowe - Apr 26, 2014 at 10:54 AM

    It really is about time. Someone needs to overhaul that lineup.

    • dcfan4life - Apr 26, 2014 at 4:02 PM

      the blue line MUST be the prime focus of the new GM. As all fans we were all tired of GMGM ignoring this season after season.

  2. bohman88 - Apr 26, 2014 at 10:57 AM

    I’m going to enjoy this brief moment of excitement. Why I say brief? Because we don’t know who the replacements are yet.

  3. alicesrightfootesq - Apr 26, 2014 at 10:59 AM

    Oates will be a great coach when he learns how to manage player relationships.

    • therealjr - Apr 26, 2014 at 11:24 AM

      Oates might be a great coach if he learned some humility.

      • barkar942 - Apr 26, 2014 at 1:50 PM

        I would say if he improves his personality from telephone pole (dead tree) to tree (living) might help.

  4. lowenni - Apr 26, 2014 at 11:00 AM

    Although it sucks to go through many coaching changes, this is necessary for the Caps. Although we have failed to do it recently this is a team that is committed to winning and Oates and McPhee weren’t able to do that. I personally really do not like Oates’ coaching style or system and McPhee wasn’t able to build a winning roster with the very talented core he has. The team needs a shakeup. Not sure about who the best choice for a GM is, but for coaching I would be very interested to see what a guy like Laviolette could do. Another interesting candidate could be Barry Trotz, and I know Dale Hunter’s defensive system was called into question when he was here but that was the closest we’ve come to making it to the Finals recently in my opinion. I’m curious what he could do with a much more talented roster than he had in Nashville. We’ll see what happens I suppose.

    • bmoreredfury311 - Apr 26, 2014 at 11:18 AM


      I think Trotz would be very good, if you want that Hunter system again. I also like Laviolette as well. But who is out there for GM though?

      • ravenscaps48 - Apr 26, 2014 at 11:48 AM

        I’ve seen something before where Bob Nicholson from Hockey Canada was interested in the GM slot. And I’d be content with Laviolette. But the thing about Barry Trotz, is that he can bring a defensive system in, and we can blend in the wizardry of Oates’ PP Scheme because the players won’t forget what they did successfully

  5. cdalton2690 - Apr 26, 2014 at 11:02 AM

    This is great news!!! I was in favor of Oates coming to DC as a coach but that didn’t pan out as I would have liked. Now it all depends on who they get as replacements.

  6. patthehockeyfan - Apr 26, 2014 at 11:02 AM

    As a humanist, I feel bad for Oates and McPhee; however, the Caps needed to clean house, starting at the top. As hard as it might have been for Leonsis, he did what he had to do.

    Good luck to the both of them, and good luck to whomever replaces them.

    Interestingly, PHT conducted a poll (“Twisting in the wind”) on April 21st, asking which coach was most likely to be fired. Oates was at 27%, Randy Carlyle at 28.53%, and John Tortorella @ 44.47%.

  7. 950003cups - Apr 26, 2014 at 11:06 AM

    Oates coming back to NJ? PLEASE!!!!

    • nj666 - Apr 26, 2014 at 6:48 PM

      why? that wouldn’t make any sense.

  8. stcrowe - Apr 26, 2014 at 11:12 AM

    The sad reality about the NHL is that McPhee will probably be employed by some other team before training camp, possibly before the draft.

    He may have fumbled about during these last couple of years, but he will also get credit for how long he lasted, some of the good moves that he made over those years, and the relationships that he likely has with other team GMs. His lack of overall success will be forgotten. He may even get interviews in Calgary and Vancouver.

    • atwatercrushesokoye - Apr 26, 2014 at 3:20 PM

      He’s got a history in Vancouver but I’m not sure he’ll get much attention with the Flames, I don’t believe he has a connection to Brian Burke, and it seems like Burke wants either someone with a history with him or a young guy he can work with.

      Maybe he gets an interview but I don’t think him being available changes the Flames’ search much at all.

      • stcrowe - Apr 26, 2014 at 8:29 PM

        It was a long time ago, but Burke and McPhee were both Pat Quinn’s underlings in Vancouver. This was more than twenty years ago.

  9. billiam55 - Apr 26, 2014 at 11:12 AM

    I don’t feel the coaching staff was the issue. It was really the GM’s problem. Oates is a good coach its just unfortunate mcphee never gave him a roster to work with. (“defense” in mind) because oates is a good coach. its kind of embarrassing how many coaching changes this organization has made. They’ll end up like the oilers.

  10. 2qswing - Apr 26, 2014 at 11:21 AM

    Ovi/Greene et all, kill another coach

  11. coltssteve - Apr 26, 2014 at 11:23 AM

    The only reason the house cleaning happened is because season ticket holders left en masse. I dropped my season tickets in the club level and noted that the renewal deadline was extended two or three times. Lately, I get emails every week saying they want me back as a season ticket holder, etc. Why would I come back when there is absolutely no hope for the roster as constructed. Somebody needs to blow this thing up completely as we have too many spare parts on this team. I think we are in for a long rebuild not a one year turnaround; too many problems.

  12. stakex - Apr 26, 2014 at 11:26 AM

    McPhee’s departure shouldn’t really come as any surprise. There have been significant questions about his abilities for years now, and the Capitals haven’t been a true threat to win a Cup in a long time. The odds that his contract was going to be renewed were incredibly small, and there likely would have been a lot of fan blowback had it been.

    No real surprise with Oats either. It was likely that a full house cleaning was on the way, and Oats wasn’t going to stay if McPhee was canned. Oates did do some good things as the Caps coach, such as helping Ovechkin find his scoring touch again, but a lot of the recent revelations about his over bearing coaching style cast a dark cloud over his abilities to effectively lead a team.

    So now the question is who are the replacements? Don’t have much of a guess on the GM, but I hear Peter Laviolette doesn’t have a job…

  13. kevindunn21 - Apr 26, 2014 at 11:32 AM

    Note the date:

    kevindunn21 – Jun 15, 2013 at 11:29 PM

    Oates is getting real comfortable for a guy who just barely edged Winnipeg in a mediocre division and followed it up with an epic round 1 choke job. He will be unemployed, at least as a head coach, by this time next year.

    BOOM — where you at alexnewca?

    • kaptaanamerica - Apr 26, 2014 at 4:43 PM

      How’d you search for and find your old comment?

  14. steelcity333 - Apr 26, 2014 at 11:32 AM

    What a loser franchise.

    • bmoreredfury311 - Apr 26, 2014 at 2:25 PM

      From the looks of it. You franchise is on the down swing too. Specially if those B.Jackets knock your Hens out in the first round. I know Pitt has cups, good for them. But they haven’t really done anything since then. People in glass houses shouldn’t throw rocks, donkey.

  15. dontbsuchapuss - Apr 26, 2014 at 11:37 AM

    Good luck to the next coach. Coaching lazy players that don’t defend won’t change the losing seasons ahead. Who really cares if you have a fifty goal scorer when you can’t play them in all situations.

  16. johnericbaldwin - Apr 26, 2014 at 11:40 AM

    The news is that the GM is gone, the bad news is the head coach was fired, why because he stood up to lazy ass Ov. So what he scored 50 goals did the caps make the playoffs NO. This is the second time that Ov was involved in a coach getting fire (Bruce B who is the fast coach to win 300 games) because of his lazy ass play. It’s time to let Ov go and let ted know that a TEAM that makes the playoffs puts butts in the seats not Ov. OV must go.

  17. 1950shoebox - Apr 26, 2014 at 11:47 AM

    Caps need to hire a GM from a Cup-winning organization. Someone who is more interested in a team winning games than catering to a single personality. A real hockey man more interested in crafting a playoff-winning roster than clever marketing slogans and season ticket sales. ROCK THE RED. DC RISING. How about going for “Champions”, instead? I vote Tom Fitzgerald or Don Sweeney.

  18. bmoreredfury311 - Apr 26, 2014 at 11:57 AM

    Oates is a good coach, but he was too technical. He didn’t want to change his game plan up, when he faced adversity. Power play was awesome, but the 5 on 5 sucked. And how do you not play Penner top line w/Ovi and Backy. GMGM made his on last good move there, and Oates wasted it. In the long run this is for the best. Just find someone to bring an identity to this team and franchise.

    • barkar942 - Apr 26, 2014 at 1:57 PM

      They already have someone there that creates their identity. Ovechkin.

      • bmoreredfury311 - Apr 26, 2014 at 2:16 PM

        I mean GM wise.

      • stixzidinia - Apr 27, 2014 at 10:32 AM

        Ovechkin isn’t the identity they should want anymore. Word is starting to trickle out of Washington that Ovie’s teammates respect his offensive talent, but not much else about his game and effort level. There was resentment in the room.

  19. letsgocaps88 - Apr 26, 2014 at 12:03 PM

    Time to celebrate , first round on me!!! Couple good head coaches out their, wouldn’t mind a Barry trotz?

  20. icrew29 - Apr 26, 2014 at 12:08 PM

    Firing the coach and GM will not make Washington a better team. Need to clean house starting with the captain.

  21. capsrockva - Apr 26, 2014 at 12:11 PM

    Don’t like the move to fire Oates GMGM doesn’t bother me that much

  22. capitalspowerkill - Apr 26, 2014 at 12:16 PM

    Oates would make a good assistant coach on alot of team, But as a head coach he let his ego get the best of him and made some questionable decisions. The biggest one other than the lineup he kept playing(Beagle first line center, really?) was the way he made the goalies play a different style then they were used to(big reason why Holtby struggled this season). Now, with GMGM I don’t see him being unemployed very long, I’m sure he’ll be somewhere by the draft.

  23. phillyphanatic77 - Apr 26, 2014 at 12:28 PM

    GMGM and Oates both seemed too arrogant for their own good (from an outsiders perspective). Like others have mentioned, Oates handling of his lineups and goaltenders was questionable, at best. Meanwhile there was a lot of chatter lately about McPhee and his poor relationship with agents/players. If your GM is making guys hesitant to sign or play in Washington then things need to be reevaluated. Plus some of his recent personnel moves deserve criticism (acquiring Erat comes to mind).

    I’d like to see Lavy have a shot at that lineup. They certainly have the offensive prowess that he craves, but scoring isn’t their issue. Still his strong voice could have success there. As for the GM, I said this about the Vancouver job, please stay away from Hextall.

  24. ovechcant - Apr 26, 2014 at 12:32 PM

    These moves may be the right moves. I’d like to see how these two do elsewhere. There are still a ton of problems for this team and until there is evidence that the players understand what needs to happen there is reason for any excitement right now.

  25. luz56 - Apr 26, 2014 at 12:40 PM

    Welcome to Calgary George! Being a GM in any sports is thankless when you don’t win the big game.. Not sure how guys like Kevin Lowe Glen Sather continue to hang onto their jogs based on what happened 25 years ago??

  26. fivetozeroingame7 - Apr 26, 2014 at 12:51 PM

    This is a tragic day

  27. vstar1us - Apr 26, 2014 at 1:32 PM

    I think there is a few players they need to dump as well! I think everyone knows who they need to ship off, at the professional level not a lot of coaching goes on. One needs to be self motivated and a coach needs to learn to motivate!

  28. canada2014gold - Apr 26, 2014 at 2:00 PM

    Yeah we wouldn’t want the coach telling his players to back check. We all know you can’t do that. Lol here’s a idea, don’t build around a selfish player that measures success in personal points and ice time.

  29. rushledger - Apr 26, 2014 at 2:23 PM

    If your a team looking for a new gm either Calgary, Vancouver, or now Washington. You need to NOT hire a recently fired GM because you’re just going to inherit the other teams problems. Poor drafting, giving up on young prospects to fast or not getting enough for your rental trades. Plus they were fired for a reason start fresh.

  30. broadstreetbeatdown - Apr 26, 2014 at 2:59 PM

    To the folks calling for Barry Trotz. He would last a year. Boudreau, Hunter and Oates could not get OV to play defense, back check or even make a lame defensive play in the neutral zone. Personally, I think Lavy would be a good fit with his offensive attack style of coaching.

  31. 48colorrainbow - Apr 26, 2014 at 3:43 PM

    Ovechkin needs to be, at minimum, stripped of the captaincy–for the past few years, I have felt that he is not the one to lead the Capitals to the promised land.

  32. joey4id - Apr 26, 2014 at 4:25 PM

    How can anyone assert that Oates is a good coach? He hasn’t made a difference with the Caps during his time there.

    Leonis needs to hire a GM quickly. Major decisions need to be made with respect to the on ice talent. First order of the day has got to be what to do with Ovi. This team needs an identity, and that has to start by adding more grit and character players. I don’t think Ovi will want to stay with the Caps if he’s stripped of the C. He’s too self-centered and would benefit from a good dose of humility.

  33. vbcaps - Apr 26, 2014 at 4:47 PM

    Barry trotz

  34. whammy71 - Apr 26, 2014 at 6:48 PM

    Hopefully Bylsma will go to Washington once Mario shirt cans his arse!

    • whammy71 - Apr 26, 2014 at 6:51 PM

      Him and AO would get along great…..all O, no D!

  35. charastein - Apr 26, 2014 at 7:36 PM

    Oates good player. Coach? Not so much.

  36. stixzidinia - Apr 27, 2014 at 10:35 AM

    It’s going to be fun in the coming years watching Caps fans concoct new and interesting ways to blame the new coach and GM for the weaknesses in Ovie’s game now they don’t have GMGM to kick around anymore and have burned through yet another coach.

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