(AP Photo)

The Capitals let General Manager George McPhee go on Saturday, ending a 17-year run in Washington that made him the third-longest-tenured GM in the NHL.

McPhee, who remains confident the Capitals can reach the Stanley Cup finals “sometime in the next three years,” was hired on June 9, 1997, and introduced to a small crowd.

It’s interesting to look back at McPhee’s comments that day, and the reaction to his hiring.

Via Rachel Nichols, then the Caps beat writer for the Post:

“You can get to the playoffs with a grinding team and you might win a round, but you have to have speed and skill and balance to win the Stanley Cup,” McPhee said. “You can teach good players to play well defensively, but you can’t teach defensive players to score.”

Via Tony Kornheiser:

“Abe Pollin did the introductions, and he was in good spirits; it was a rare recent day for Abe, because he hadn’t fired anybody. McPhee, who’s 38 years old, and Wilson, who’s 42, look like they came straight from the set of a ‘Happy Days’ reunion. They’re young, they’re eager, and here’s something you haven’t heard from the Capitals brain trust recently — they like offense! They wanna put the biscuit in the basket. Whooo-eee, whooo-eee, baby.”

What else was going on in the sports world?

A mentally and physically exhausted Michael Jordan, who led the Bulls to a 3-0 sweep of the Bullets in the first round of the playoffs, was about to play the ‘Flu Game’ in the NBA Finals.

Tiger Woods was a a 21-year-old preparing to play his first U.S. Open as a professional at Congressional.

The Orioles were 40-17 (and the only baseball team in town).