Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin knows it was a rough summer for the organization.
Both coach Adam Oates and 17-year GM George McPhee were fired and replaced by Barry Trotz and Brian MacLellan. As he arrived in Las Vegas for the NHL Awards that take place on Tuesday night, he lightened the mood about the changes made as Alex Prewitt of The Washington Post shared.
“Thank God they don’t fire me yet,” he added, drawing laughs from the reporters around him. “I’m still here with the Capitals.”
Hey-oh! Ovechkin is in Vegas after all. As for working with Trotz, Ovechkin said he doesn’t know what the coach wants to do yet, but said it’ll be a chance for everyone to get on the same page. From Prewitt:
“I can tell you nothing, but we’re going to see how it goes into training camp,” Ovechkin said. “[Trotz is] going to explain to everybody. It’s not about just me. Everybody has to change. We’re going to be in that kind of position.”
After missing the playoffs for the first time since 2006, it’s safe to say just about everyone is on notice, even the captain of the team who scored 51 goals last season.
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.
With the Washington Capitals missing the playoffs for the first time since 2006-07, coach Adam Oates has come under fire for how things have gone this season.
As Chuck Gormley of CSNWashington.com shares, Caps center Nicklas Backstrom said it’s on the players, not Oates, to take responsibility for the team falling well short of expectations this season.
“He played this game and he knows what he’s talking about,” Backstrom said. “I think it’s us as players. We’re the ones that play the game and we’re the ones that should be ashamed.”
It may not come right out as a defense of Oates as coach, but it reads like one. After seeing the Caps miss the postseason, changes are coming to D.C. somehow. Whether that’s Oates being let go or GM George McPhee or perhaps a pile of trades this summer is ultimately up to owner Ted Leonsis to decide.