When George McPhee received a phone call from Capitals president Dick Patrick at 10 a.m. Saturday, he knew Patrick didn’t have good news for him.
After nearly 17 years as general manager, McPhee was informed that his contract would not be renewed.
“In this job, you’re 24 hours away from being fired at almost any time,” McPhee said Monday. “I signed up for it. … I refuse to be bitter about anything and I’m not going to look back, and I blame no one. I was the manager.”
After the Capitals missed the playoffs for the first time since 2007, team owner Ted Leonsis and Patrick presided over a two-week organizational autopsy. They met with McPhee for 2½ hours last Thursday before reaching a final decision late Friday.
Coach Adam Oates was also let go after two seasons, leaving Washington in search of its fourth coach since the start of the 2011-12 season.
The Capitals qualified for the postseason in 10 of 16 seasons under McPhee’s guidance, but they won just three series following a 1998 Stanley Cup final appearance in his first season.
Dominant regular seasons were followed by disappointing playoffs, a problem that persisted throughout McPhee’s tenure.
“We didn’t catch that break, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen,” McPhee said. “This team is young enough, the veterans are at the right age here. You’ve got experienced players with young guys coming in. It’s the perfect combination. That’s what you need.
“They may not have done it in phase one, but phase two is right there and they’re going to be good.”
McPhee, however, will not be in Washington to see if that vision comes to fruition.
“I did the best I could because that’s what you’re supposed to do,” McPhee said. “I put everything I had into it.”