The Washington Post

Extras from George McPhee’s farewell news conference


Here are some notes and interesting comments from George McPhee’s lengthy news conference Monday that didn’t yet appear here, here or here.

>> While the focus in Washington will be the search for a new general manager and coach, it will also be interesting to see where McPhee lands. Vancouver, where he spent five years as director of hockey operations in the 1990s, is in search of a new general manager. Even if no other GM jobs open up this offseason, McPhee is well respected around the league that a team could look to bring him on in any number of roles.

For his part, McPhee sounds eager to jump back in the fray as soon as the right situation presents itself. It’s worth noting his contract doesn’t expire until July 1, though, so teams will have to seek permission from Washington’s ownership to speak with him before then.

“It’s got to be the right opportunity, obviously, and I’d be delighted if someone picked up the phone,” McPhee said. “The job, for me, it’s got to feed the soul. It’s got to feel good. I’ve got to work with good people. As ownership could tell you, it’s never been about the money for me or any of that stuff. it’s about working with great people and having fun with this. Life’s too short to be any other way. So I’m ready. My wife and I can only walk around the block so many times.

“If there’s another GM’s job in the future and someone gives me an opportunity, I’d love to do it again. And I’d go to Iceland to do it. Doesn’t matter where it is,” McPhee said. “What I’ve learned in this business is, when you’re winning, it’s great. And when you’re losing, it’s not. It’s been a lot of fun managing an NHL team. I’m really, really lucky.”

>> When asked how much autonomy he had as general manager of the Capitals: “I made the decisions.”

>> In expanding upon why he believes the Capitals are in good shape to make a few tweaks and then legitimately fight to be one of the top teams in the league, McPhee didn’t just mention the players but the infrastructure of the organization.

While Washington’s scouting staff and assistant coaches remain for now it’s impossible to predict how many will stay once a new general manager and coach are brought in. Often, people taking over those roles prefer to be able to select at least some of the members of their staffs.

“I’m not exaggerating when I try to explain that this organization is in great shape. We don’t have any bad contracts on the books. Lots of cap space to work with. A great affiliation in Hershey. A whole group of young players coming into the organization,” McPhee said. “We have terrific pro scouts, terrific amateur scouts.… My management style has always been really flat. I’m easy to get to. I’m going to put you in a position and you own it. And you run with it, you become the expert and you tell me what you need and we’ll get it for you. You’re the expert now. If you tell me to tweak something, shift the priorities for scouts in one region over another, move people around a little bit because one area is producing a lot of players and another isn’t, that sort of thing, you’re the experts. Go ahead. We have this self-perpetuating organization now with all the good people. It’s going to do really well.”

>> McPhee was out of town Saturday morning when team president Dick Patrick called to tell him his contract wouldn’t be renewed. The two have become good friends during their time working together.

“Dick called me on Saturday morning and when I saw that it was from the office at 10 o’clock on Saturday morning I said ‘Well this isn’t going to be good news,’” McPhee said. “And it was Dick and he said ‘I don’t have good news.’ And I said ‘Dick, it’s okay. It’s okay. I don’t want you to feel bad about me. Everything’s okay.’ And he was great. He was great. And then Ted called about an hour later.”

>> Over the last two years both McPhee and Adam Oates drew numerous parallels to the Boston Bruins, from Oates’s references about how their fourth line could play in any situation to McPhee talking about the growth of a team that now no one questions as one of the best in the league.

He brought up the Bruins again Monday when asked about why Washington was never able to get over the hump. In the three seasons prior to their Stanley Cup championship in 2011, the Bruins couldn’t get past the second round. They were eliminated in game sevens all three years and in 2010 they squandered a 3-0 series lead to the Flyers en route to elimination.

“They had their adversity,” McPhee said. “But one year they won it. Now they’re comfortable knowing that they’ve got that frame of reference: We’ve done it before and we can do it again.”

He referenced how the Bruins needed overtime of Game 7 against Montreal in the first round to advance in 2011, how so many things could have gone against them but didn’t and they managed to survive.

“They got through it and they won the Cup and now they’ve sort of come of age. The GM’s done a really good job there, it’s a good team. Detroit was that way at one time, they won one and then they got even better,” McPhee said. “We didn’t catch that break. But that doesn’t mean it can’t happen.”

>> The news conference began and ended with McPhee making jokes at his own expense. When he first approached the podium and group of reporters, he quipped

“Should I start by saying ‘fire away’ or is that the wrong terminology?” Then when asked how he would like to be remembered, he reminded everyone gathered – which at that point included a fair number of Capitals staff members – that this wasn’t a funeral.

“Well, I didn’t die, you know. It felt like that a few times,” McPhee said. “But listen, I did the best I could because that’s what you’re supposed to do. I did the best I could. I put everything I had into it so I don’t have any flowery final words other than it’s been a great ride and I feel very, very lucky and fortunate.”

>> Extra Caps reading from The Bog:

Is Ted Leonsis too close to Alex Ovechkin?

Looking back at the day George McPhee was hired



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Katie Carrera · April 29, 2014

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