Despite an undoubtedly large group of disenfranchised fans and heavy helpings of disappointment, Washington Capitals GM George McPhee decided to sit out the league’s annual round of trade deadline chicken.
McPhee explained that he didn’t want to “chase a bad deal.”
“The theme of this year’s deadline was everybody wanted to add and there was no one selling,” McPhee said. “There were probably three or four sellers and a couple of them are in our division, so it wasn’t like we were going to able to do much with them. Everyone seemed to want our players, but they wanted to give us futures and prospects and I wasn’t interested in doing that.”
The sexier comment came when McPhee proclaimed that this Capitals team “can beat anyone in [the Eastern] conference” with a healthy Nicklas Backstrom.
To some, that comment seems preposterous considering how uneven Washington has been – with or without the talented Swede in its lineup. Then again, this is still a talented team on paper and if you’ve followed playoff hockey for even a few years, you know that a hot squad can ride a wave of momentum to shocking heights.
McPhee’s overall logic is actually quite sound for two less-contentious reasons, though:
1. The prices on the market really were ridiculous. (*cough* Paul Gaustad for a first-rounder *cough*)
Parity is a great thing, but it tends to breed impatience. Capitals fans wanted change NOW, but to paraphrase a hokey saying about Texas weather, if you don’t like Washington now … wait until the off-season.
McPhee could clean out much of the supposed “cancers” or underachievers/malcontents/whatever once the season’s over. Take a look at this list of the team’s most noteworthy upcoming free agents (sorry, Jeff Halpern):
Mike Green, Alexander Semin, Mike Knuble, Tomas Vokoun, Dennis Wideman and even head coach Dale Hunter.
Naturally, many want Alex Ovechkin to be fair game, but that list contains a ton of scapegoats who could be jettisoned for a new frame of mind and a ton of cap space.* So, yes, McPhee could have closed his eyes and thrown up a Hail Mary, but Capitals fans only need to sit through hockey’s answer to a two minute drill before victory or serious change comes.
* It would be about $17 million or so, if everyone in that group walked (not counting Hunter’s salary, of course).