Following the Capitals’ first-round playoff elimination by the New York Rangers, general manager George McPhee met with reporters to share his thoughts on the 2013 season, head coach Adam Oates and what it might take for the Caps to win their first Stanley Cup in franchise history.
In Part Three of the interview, McPhee comments on the positive approach of Adam Oates, winning an elusive Stanley Cup and his plans with the current roster:
On the Caps’ future with Adam Oates behind the bench:
As I already mentioned he did a really good job and I think there’s more upside there. I think he can be a terrific coach in this league, one of the really, really good ones. I’ve said a number of times he has an understanding of the game few people have, collectively and individually – the way the team should play the game and things he can tell players individually that improve their game. I’ve done probably eight to 10 exit interviews already and the players are all raving about him. They loved that he taught them this year. They also love that he had a real positive approach throughout the year, that he didn’t waver on that. They really believed that positive reinforcement results in positive results. So I think we’re in real good shape here and I think the team is in real good shape. There’s not a lot to do going forward. We’ll try to make them better if we can and we will. I had a great talk with Ted [Leonsis] and I told him what I saw and he told me what he saw and then he said, ‘Keep the faith, we’ll get together in a couple weeks and figure out how to make it better.’
On whether the Caps are a team built to win a Stanley Cup?
I’m confident in that. I really like this group of players. I know people are disappointed we lost. We’re all disappointed. But we’ve got people around here now that care. Look at the size of this media, it’s grown. We weren’t getting this seven or eight years ago. I think we’ve done a lot of great things. If you keep trying to put a good team together one of these years you’ll break through and it will be fantastic. I just had a talk with Mike Green this morning. He mentioned that coming up in the elevator he didn’t want to sit down with George and have this talk. But he said, ‘When we win it’s going to be that much better. It’s going to be glorious,’ and I hope he’s right.
On whether he might considering using the amnesty rule this summer [releasing a player averaging $3 million or more on his contract]:
Owners don’t love that. We haven’t really discussed that and we haven’t had to do much of that in the past. Owners like that.
On what changes need to be made on the Caps’ roster?
Not a whole lot. We played really well. I like the way we were playing. We were pretty solid in all areas.
On finding players that fit well into Adam Oates’ system:
It makes it a lot easier, to know what Adam likes now. We like the same sorts of things. That’s nice. It makes that process a lot easier. We’ll try to do things that follow this system.
On having an open communication with his head coach:
It means a lot. It’s nice to have their thoughts and feedback. It’s a much more healthy environment when you can do that with a coach and wok together. I’ve always valued a coach’s opinion and I hope they value mine. We’ve had really good working relationships with coaches and Adam is no different. It’s terrific to work with him. I’m really proud of that hire. He had never been a head coach and I think we made a real good decision there and it’s been great for us so far.
On whether the entire coaching staff will return next season:
Yeah. I haven’t had discussions with Adam about that, but I don’t know why they wouldn’t.
On if there is anything in particular he is looking to add in the offseason:
Not necessarily. I hope Brooks Laich is a hundred percent for next year. We really missed him and [Martin] Erat in this series. When Erat went down it took a little bit out of our lineup. It not only hurts the line he’s on [with Mike Ribeiro and Troy Brouwer] but it hurts the third and fourth. The [Eric] Fehr-[Jason] Chimera-[Mathieu] Perreault combination was playing really well. We move [Joel] Ward up and he was fine there, but that hurts the fourth line. There’s a trickle down of the minutes you have when you lose a good player. That [second line] needed speed. The Ribeiro-Brouwer-Fehr combination wasn’t quick enough. Having a Laich or Erat there makes it work. So hopefully he’s fine and Erat will be fine. Unfortunately, they both would have been ready, probably after this weekend, to play in the next series.
On the benefits of a full training camp and regular season next year:
I think the full camp, understanding the system and having the same personnel will help a lot. I really liked, once this all kicked in, the way this team played. I think we can be even better than we were. A whole camp and eight preseason games to work things out certainly should help.