WASHINGTON — For good or ill, most of the news of the weekend was about the NBA, so it’s easy to forget the Saturday shakeup at the top of the Washington Capitals: Coach Adam Oates was fired, and general manager George McPhee was not offered a new contract.
Greg Wyshynski, who writes the Puck Daddy blog for Yahoo! Sports, says that over the weekend he has seen fan reactions that he would characterize as “a mixture of relief and a little bit of depression.”
Wyshynski told WTOP’s Mike Murillo the feeling was that Oates wasn’t the right fit as coach, and McPhee had “made some significant mistakes in the last couple of years.”
Still, McPhee had been with the team longer than Ted Leonsis has owned it.
“So this is a major sea change for the organization … it’s kind of a sad time,” he said.
Now the search begins for a new leadership duo, and Wyshynski says the choice for general manager will be a major signal of the philosophy of the franchise.
“It’s gonna signal where this team is going — into a deep rebuild, or just kind of tinkering under the hood to still contend,” he said.
Wyshynski thinks the Caps might go with Bob Nicholson, who used to run Hockey Canada, as general manager, but he hopes they’ll go with a pair of transplants from the Nashville Predators: Paul Fenton, an assistant GM in Nashville; and Barry Trotz, who was just fired by the Predators and used to coach in the Capitals’ minor league system.
Wyshynski calls Trotz “just an asset — a real pro, and somebody who can finally bring some order and system to this team.”
The decisions could come soon — Wyshynski says that teams never get rid of their general manager without having a few people in mind as possible replacements.
“The target is always to get somebody in place before the National Hockey League draft at the end of June,” and a new coach shortly thereafter.