Leonsis: Capitals weren’t ‘trending toward being able to compete for a Cup’

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The Washington Capitals have in recent years been a strong regular season team, but could never take that next step in the playoffs toward competing for the Stanley Cup.

In the 2013-14 season, they took a major step back, not even qualifying for the post-season and that meant the end to the Adam Oates two-year tenure as head coach, who was relieved of his duties. It was also announced that general manager George McPhee, who has been with Washington since 1997, would not have his contract renewed.

Yes, major house cleaning for the Capitals on Saturday. And now the search for a new general manager – and then a new head coach will begin.

But owner Ted Leonsis did not see his club progressing the way he would like, and changes were made.

“We were left (with) the overall impression that the team wasn’t trending toward being able to compete for a [Cup],” said Leonsis, as per Brian McNally of the Washington Times.

Oates, as a rookie head coach in the lockout-shortened 2013 season, saw the Capitals get off to a slow start at that time but then they roared back toward the end of the season to claim the Southeast Division, before getting eliminated in the opening round of the playoffs.

Oates released a brief statement on Saturday, saying he was “grateful” to be given the chance to coach the Capitals.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank Ted Leonsis, Dick Patrick, George McPhee, our coaching staff, the players and everyone involved with the Washington Capitals organization,” Oates said in a statement, which can be found on CSN Washington.

“It was a tremendous honor to coach the Capitals these past two seasons. It is a great franchise with a wonderful fan base that will always be close to my heart. I’m grateful for the opportunity they provided me and wish them nothing but the best in the future.”