The Washington Capitals, one of the most injury-plagued teams in the NHL in recent seasons, have fired their head trainer, Stan Wong, and parted ways with their longtime orthopedic surgeons, according to sources close to the team.
Capitals General Manager George McPhee and the orthopedic group spoke in the last several days. The two sides mutually agreed to end a relationship that dates more than 15 years, according to the sources.
The physicians will continue to serve the Wizards, according to sources.
Wong, who had been with the Capitals since the 1986-87 season, could not be reached to comment yesterday.
McPhee did not respond to questions about the shake-up. It is unknown whether he has selected successors to Wong and the physicians.
The orthopedic group is led by Stephen Haas, who has been with the teams since the early 1980s, and includes doctors Marc Connell, Richard Grossman, Peter Basch and Carl MacCartee.
Phone messages left with Haas at his Bethesda offices were not returned.
During the past three seasons, the Capitals have had more man-games lost to injuries than nearly any other NHL team. The team led the league with 511 games lost to injuries during the 1998-99 season; the next most-injured team was Nashville, at 398.
In 1997-98, the team lost 476 man-games. General managers and coaches consider 200 man-games lost per season reasonable.
Before joining the Capitals, Wong was an assistant trainer with the Philadelphia Eagles from 1980 to 1982 and a head trainer with the Boston Breakers of the U.S. Football League from 1983 to 1985.
The Capitals were recently bought by an investor group led by Internet millionaire Ted Leonsis, who is president of America Online's interactive properties.
Leonsis's group bought the team and a minority interest in the Wizards and MCI Center from Abe Pollin for between $150 and $200 million, with the option to buy the rest of the basketball team and arena at a later date.
Leonsis's purchase of the team has not yet been approved by the NHL Board of Governors, but there is no apparent opposition.