Summer of George

Posted May 14, 2012

Does time mean anything at all if nothing ever changes?

George McPhee was hired as General Manager of the Washington Capitals in June 1997. That will be fifteen years ago this coming June. That’s also the last time the Capitals made it beyond the seventh game of the second round.  It’s hard to appreciate how long fifteen years is until you see that the kids of guys from that team are now playing hockey as adults. David Bondra just committed to Michigan State. He’ll play there with Brock Krygier. Jarred Tinordi will play for the Memorial Cup with London.

McPhee has presided over a complete teardown of one group of players, and the subsequent rebuild. And now there’s going to be a rebuild of the rebuild, so to speak, because next year’s Capitals are going to look pretty different from this year’s brand. Some poor sucker is going to throw James Wisniewski money at Dennis Wideman. The KHL has just announced that returning Russian players from the NHL will not count against the salary cap, so that could mean Alex Semin is gone. Mike Knuble has probably played his last game in the NHL, as has Jeff Halpern, and more than likely Tomas Vokoun has as well, depending on the severity of his groin injury. Dale Hunter could very well decide to go back to London, so they might even have to hire a new coach.

Please note: I am not “demanding” McPhee be fired. It’s not my place or my job to write that kind of column. But one of the things I saw constantly stressed by fans in the end of the Bruce Boudreau era was the perceived lack of accountability for mistakes and errors perpetrated by the coaching staff. Where then, is the same accountability in the front office? And “accountability” doesn’t even necessarily mean “someone has to be fired.” What is this organization going to do in the next few years to push this group over the top? Is it even close to competing for Stanley Cups? There’s still no second line center (and it doesn’t look like there’s a good crop of free agents on the horizon), there’s probably going to be a pretty significant hole to be filled at wing on the second line, and Wideman’s minutes have to be replaced. And hell, there’s not even an affiliate agreement for next year in Hershey yet.

So by default, this almost has to be the most important summer of GMGM’s tenure.

Does time mean anything at all if nothing ever changes?