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George McPhee, still fighting the good fight for the Caps

(Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

Washington Capitals General Manager George McPhee has quietly, almost silently, become the most enduring sports executive in Washington, a town of inordinate athletic turnover. And he's still a scrappy fighter for his team.

Click here to read Barry Svrluga's profile, which chronicles the series of hockey experiences that made McPhee who he is today.

By Lindsay Applebaum  |  September 16, 2010; 8:07 PM ET
Categories:  George McPhee  
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Next: Which Caps prospects will impress the most at training camp?


Oh boy, here we go. This will inflame more warfare than Germany's invasion of Poland in 1939.

Posted by: newbie1 | September 16, 2010 8:27 PM | Report abuse

Oh boy, here we go. This will inflame more warfare than Germany's invasion of Poland in 1939.

Posted by: newbie1 | September 16, 2010 8:27 PM | Report abuse

Lol. I wonder if Katie reads the board. I think she's messing with you guys.

Posted by: Dizruption | September 16, 2010 8:37 PM | Report abuse

U know what...the professionals all seem to think GMGM is awesome, he has drafted extremely well (hey 2005 happens), and the Caps are one of the best teams in the league...we are all dissapointed in the Caps playoffs the last 2 yrs (I was fine over theflyers) but the Blackhawks took 49 yrs. between cups so lets stop acting like we are the only team that is not perfect. GMGM is an overall good GM, BB is a good coach who is still learning to deal with NHL players, and the Caps WILL win a cup one day. Lets try to remember some of the good stuff about the team we love...

This post is in response to the negative posts I know are about to come.

Posted by: capscoach | September 16, 2010 8:41 PM | Report abuse

McPhee is a good guy...but the fact remains the team still needs a veteran Center and a big tough Defenseman, and like it or not BB was outcoached in the Habs series. Everything else is great, go Caps!

Posted by: kcbrichmond | September 16, 2010 9:28 PM | Report abuse

I was able to make it to the game and here are my thoughts. The three players who stood out the most to me were Cody Eakin, Marcus Johansson, and Grubauer.

Eakin was the best player on the ice. I didn't know much about him going into this other then that BB kept talking about him but at the end of the game I wanted him to make the Caps. He was outskating every player on the ice and was getting to every puck. The goal was a great play but the one that stood out the most to me for him was one on a delayed Philly call and three different times, at the end of his shift, he beat a Flyer to the puck to keep the play alive and set up good scoring chances.

Johansson was making a lot of great passing plays and also was taking the puck from the Flyers a lot in the defensive zone.

Grubauer stoped two or three beakaways before finally getting scored on in the second. It is amazing to think he is our 4th or 5th best goalies behind Varly, Nuverth, Holtby, and maybe Sabbo.

Guys like Finley looked like I expected. He was slow but was able to knock away a lot of pucks and threw some huge hits. Clearly not ready for the NHL but should be good in the AHL this year.

The guy who looked the worst to me was Trevor Bruess. He was too worried about trying to make the big hit he was making real bad plays. The third goal the puck was loose and instead of getting the loose puck and getting it out of the zone he went to hit the Philly guy and a second Flyer took the puck and set up the game tying goal. He never looked like the was trying to play hockey he was just there to hit even if the puck was not there or if the puck was loose. I am all for physical player but if there is a loose puck you can get out of the zone and you skate right by it to try and make a hit you do nothing but hurt the team.

I do have one question is Eakin normally a center because that is what he was playing today?

If he is normally a center I think he would be a great third line center and let Flash, Johansson, and MP fight for the second line center position. With Backstrom, the winner of that battle, Eakin, and either Stecks or B.Gordon as our centers I think we will be ok given our strength on the wings especially if we can find a way to sign Andreas Lilja or another experience NHL d-man or if Sloan has the year cstanton predicted yesterday.

Posted by: icehammer97 | September 16, 2010 9:32 PM | Report abuse

Repost -
It was great to see live hockey at Kettler today. Overall, my impression was that the Caps had a bigger edge in play than the score would indicate. This was mainly due to speed. Impressive, especially considering 2 of the 3 best prospects (IMO) are in the KHL. MJ, Bruess, and Eakin have serious wheels. My take on highlights-
1. MJ was the best player on the ice. He led many rushes, could have had several more assists with better wing play, good passer, played sound defense. Dominating at times.
2. Bruess gets the CStanton award. Fast, feisty, aggressive along the boards, surprisingly (to me anyway) good with the puck. He took out the Flyers tough guy Rinaldo along the boards, stood over him and taunted him, then fought him. TB didn't win the fight, but he did OK. Pencil him in on the 4th line in a couple years.
3. Eakin was very good. He's feisty for a little guy, surprisingly strong along the boards, and looks to have a sturdier build than MP. He got abused a couple times playing the point on the power play - it would have been nice to have Orlov there.
4. Kugryshev is tough along the boards and highly skilled. He made some ridiculously skilled plays with the puck, but teammates could not convert.
5. Finley was up and down, out position a few times but used his reach to good advantage several times like Schultz. Very tough and effective along the defensive boards. Overall, the d was not impressive IMO, not up to the talent level of some of the forwards.
6. Grubauer looked generally good in goal, but appeared to me to be a bit slow moving side-to-side.
I left Kettler quite pleased. Of course,the real test for some of these guys will come playing against the big boys.

Posted by: zmega | September 16, 2010 9:34 PM | Report abuse

@capscoach at least we aren't the Cubs.

Posted by: icehammer97 | September 16, 2010 9:45 PM | Report abuse

Hmmmmm. Let's see. McPhee is a "scrappy little fighter."

Sounds kinda like the way Obama spun Biden to the country.

Great job rebuilding the team; great job Green and Schultz late in Round 1; great job Witt for pick that became Varly and great job Eminger and #3 for Carlson.

Great job signing Clark and good job moving him for Chimera and will be better move Chimera to make room for Pinner (good job signing Pinner).

OK, to quote Vogel, now for the "rest of the story." (Did Vogs invent that line, btw?) :)

Anyway, let's talk anyone he drafted other than the first round, most of the coaches he's hired, some of the free agent signings. Mostly, ugh.

Here are the teams with better GMs:

NJ, Boston, Buffalo, Toronto, Detroit, Nashville, Chicago, LA Kings, Canucks, Pittsburgh, Flyers, Colorado.

Equal GMs: Islanders, Columbus, Blues, Sharks, Carolina, Tampa, Ottawa, Atlanta, Wild, Phoenix, Ducks.

Worse: Habs, Rangers, Flames, Oilers, Stars, Florida.

30 GMs. 30 scrappy guys. All fighting the "good fight."

It was lower 90s today in the desert and 70s now bone dry with a little breeze and all the windows open and I am drinking the "good drink."

Clos du Bois 2008 sauvignon blanc. Kind of a "scrappy little wine." Not the best; not the worst; in the middle.

Like a certain GM of a team I love.

Sometimes in life people (newspaper writers) make out others to be more than they are. Bottom line: He's an average GM, and that's it. All we're ever going to get out of McPhee are some good things and some bad things. In the end, really and truly, he isn't even as good as David Poile. If anyone expects McPhee to be a difference maker on the road to the Stanley Cup, year after year, hold your breath and die. Some years he might make a difference (2008) but then he'll back it up with a year like 2010.

Go ahead. Hold your breath and die.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | September 16, 2010 10:35 PM | Report abuse

Dickie Dunn wrote this, it must be true

Posted by: LarryDavid | September 16, 2010 10:37 PM | Report abuse

It is interesting timing for a "puff piece" article, no? GMGM gets roundly blasted in the press on ethical grounds, and just like magic Svrluga comes out with a "Little Engine That Could" article.

Maybe just a coincidence.

Posted by: zmega | September 16, 2010 10:40 PM | Report abuse

Tom, I don't want to die. I just want to win the cup.

Sounds like ole' Cs1 got to you buddy.


Posted by: wtf_e_fehr | September 16, 2010 11:28 PM | Report abuse


Has cstanton1 got to me?

Easy answer: Nobody on the face of the planet Earth can "get to me."

Once in a Corporate review to go over "the numbers" the "other side" marched in Moses himself (robe and all) to tell me he had question with my numbers.

So I tell him, "Moses, you know, that's all well and good, but you only had to count to ten."

Moses went out the side door faster than Paris Hilton out the jail when bond is posted.

cstanton actually makes better points than most on here. He'll never "get to me," though. No one can "get to me." Not unless SHE is ready to make it worth my while with BOTH her assets.


Posted by: tominsocal1 | September 16, 2010 11:51 PM | Report abuse

"Give yourself to the Dark Side. It is the only way you can save your friends. Yes, your thoughts betray you. Your feelings for them are strong"

"Patience, my friend. In time, he will seek *you* out, and when he does, you must bring him before me. He has grown strong. Only together can we turn him to the Dark Side of the Force"

"But beware. Anger, fear, aggression. The dark side are they. Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny"

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | September 17, 2010 12:04 AM | Report abuse

LOL, good to know you're virtually "Untouchable".

...and I didnt know until that post above that you had so little faith in GMGM's ability to help us get the cup.

Hence the reference to cs1. He leads that "fire GMGM" charge ya know.

Posted by: wtf_e_fehr | September 17, 2010 12:10 AM | Report abuse

Tom, the sauvignon blanc kicked in nicely for you... I agree with the GMGM insight. We need someone now who is not afraid to "take the next step". This is a really good team. Only teams who want to be GREAT win the cup. We need that killer GM instinct to lead us by example...

Posted by: sca187 | September 17, 2010 12:19 AM | Report abuse

A lot of the same old stuff on here. Really looking forward to the season starting up.

I can't believe that there were comments about Ovi not being a good leader because he just got to camp. Simply keeping up with Ovi for the last week one would realize he participated in a fund raising hockey game in Russia last week. When other players were allowed to simply report once they got stateside Ovi was marketing the NHL in New York. Yup, he went out with his friends every night. Does that mean he was getting trashed? I would say no. Not if he was working out and I watched his interview and he looks like he is in great shape. I'm sure Ovi went out to dinner every night because he doesn't have to balance his checkbook every day to make sure he has cash for grub.

It just seems like there are sharks in here just waiting for blood to hit the water. The problem is, EVERYTHING is blood. Ovi talks about his summer...ATTACK. Green says he's ready to be a leader...ATTACK. BB talks about the season...ATTACK. Semin doesn't talk to the press...ATTACK. If Katie does read this board she is probably totally confused because the "fans", except for very very few, do nothing but complain.

Oh yeah, one other goof on here claiming he was a Caps fan when he was 12 living in CT. Really? Squeak squeak squeak. That is the sound of the BS flag going up because except for pockets of time, there were not even enough Capitals followers to fill the stadium to 80% capacity until the last few years. If you are a new fan, just friggin' admit it. I find it amazing that I am sitting around die hard Cap fans in my season ticket seats. I say to you "fans" that claim that BS...where were you 3 years ago at the start of the season. At the start of the 2007 season you could still wander up to the ticket window and buy a ticket minutes before the game started.

Posted by: fanohock1 | September 17, 2010 12:22 AM | Report abuse


It has nothing to do with GM ability to lead us to promised land (Cup). And has nothing to do with with my perception of a "Cup" as a possibility.

God knows with bottle of sauvignon blanc gone and the half bottle from the other night leftover of a local winery of rose with Black Crows playing and me now drinking shots of el jimador.

Is it impossible Caps win Cup w/GM & BB?

No, you've read my notes, not impossible, just 1 in 10 odds.

The bottom line is McPhe does nothing unfortunately to improve those odds.

Black Crows are about done so i will pour yet another shot of el jimador and put on The Allman Brothers Band.

We can all argue and disagree all night and the next day and all month into the next millenium but I will take it from nobody who won't agree that you can't get any better no time of the day, any day, any month, any year, than the Allman Brothers Band.

I'd rather root for the Pittsburgh Penguins than diss the ABB.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | September 17, 2010 12:48 AM | Report abuse

I'd rather root for the Pittsburgh Penguins than diss the ABB.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | September 17, 2010 12:48 AM

that is dedication - which one must respect

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | September 17, 2010 1:15 AM | Report abuse

Well, the day has come and gone.

Sept 16th 2010.

Yes, just a day. One day. Like any other day. Like EVERY other day.

Except that, on this day, I asked for the TRUTH.

Anyone can ask for the truth. Obama can ask for the truth. Dick Cheney can ask for the truth and shoot you if you don't give it. Bill Clinton can come on the Daily Show and tell you the truth as he perceives it.

I just wanted to know whether or not the Caps had promised Belanger a contract.

I have three wonderful, beautiful daughters, aged 25 - 29. I asked them all if they knew the TRUTH.

Daughter #1 - Have you asked Jack Nicholson?

Daughter #2 - Ted Kennedy used to say we'd cross that truthful bridge when we got to it.

Daughter #3 - George McPhee says the truth we have is better than anyone else's truth we could get.

So, my kids are no better than the reporters here at CI. Nobody can say. It is up to me on my death bed to request of St. Peter whether or not Belanger was jobbed by McPhee.

Meanwhile we have a really warm and fuzzy story about Georgie.

Golly I'm touched.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | September 17, 2010 2:44 AM | Report abuse

I've been doing some Star Wars research. What with all the "Dark Side" references etc.

I think I can be most aptly described as a student of the "Living Force".

"They were mindful of the future and the possible consequences of their actions, but remained focused on the present.[1] The Living Force was viewed as having both the light and the dark side. The "Fans" always had to be mindful of their actions to avoid the temptations of the Dark side."

Beware the temptations of Cstanton1!!!


Wait for the actual puck to drop and the season to unfold. We have talent, cap space and what most seem to believe a legit chance to make it to hockeys holy grail THIS YEAR.

GMGM is our guy right now, for better or for worse, and I support the guy....for now.

Posted by: wtf_e_fehr | September 17, 2010 7:06 AM | Report abuse


That is a bit of an unfair analogy you put forth about folks "claiming" to be life long Caps fans just because the stadium has not been full. Lets take my life as an example......when I was single I had season tickets to the Caps back in the late 70's and early 80's at the Cap Center. As a matter of fact I still have the certificate framed in my living room saying I was in attendance for the Caps first ever playoff game.

Then life changed, I joined the military through the late 90's hence I was not here so season tickets were impossible. During this period I also got married and had two children so now we are talking four season tickets which I am sorry but with a mortgage, growing kids, and life in general isn't going to happen. We try to catch a couple games a year as that is all we can afford, so saying just because folks weren't sitting in the arena means they weren't real fans is rather unfair IMO.

Posted by: PhilR | September 17, 2010 7:36 AM | Report abuse

mornin Tom. I trust you didn't lose much sleep over the EB situation?

Posted by: nimrodrsp | September 17, 2010 7:44 AM | Report abuse

And I like what I am hearing about Eakin, maybe he is the reason EB got the shaft?? Sounds as if he may be almost ready for primetime. I would rather have a feisty third line center than a finesse, O-first center like MP. I am starting to think MP may be the odd man out in this whole situation with MaJo and Eakin stealing the spotlight.

Posted by: PhilR | September 17, 2010 7:56 AM | Report abuse

FrankM73 is eagerly anticipating cstanton's comments regarding the article... I will guess that they will be short, concise, to the point and accurate (from his POV).

My Dad was impressed with Eakin and MJ as well as Finley's size and reach.

Posted by: FrankM73 | September 17, 2010 10:22 AM | Report abuse

nimrod: Just having my cup o tea (gads! wife put too much sugar!) as the sun rises and illuminates the hill outside my bedroom window.

I lost no sleep at all, thank you very much.

Just remember these names in American history as demanders of the TRUTH:

Chester A. Arthur (jk)
Teddy Roosevelt

The National Park Service is sending the sculpter by later today. They will be putting my likeness on Mt Rushmore. I will invite McPhee, Belanger and Joe Taco to the ceremony.

Another day. Do we get the TRUTH?

Posted by: tominsocal1 | September 17, 2010 10:30 AM | Report abuse

i can't read an article that's 5 pages long in honor of McPhee. It'll just make me nauseous. I know him as a player and an executive. His humble beginnings I don't need to read about.

Was that game clip posted? I haven't seen it yet.

And when you look at that 2007 draft, man I sure hope Godfrey learns how to play some D. The kid has enough offensive ability at least with regards to his shot that you'd think even if he played mediocre D he'd get rushed up the ranks of this organization.

Posted by: cstanton1 | September 17, 2010 10:34 AM | Report abuse

It is stunning to me that the Post ran this piece today without any mention of the stench out there over GMGM's role re: Belanger. Contracts aside, it sure looks like the Caps strung the player's family along (helping get his kids in school?!) which is, if true, classless. The fact that the team will not confirm or deny this is terrible. The fact that the Post doesn't mention the situation, much less GET answers is amateur.

Posted by: capscapscaps2 | September 17, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Awww, what a sweet piece on GMGM and I'm sure the timing was purely coincidence.LOL
I agree with Tom that GMGM is average, I don't hate him like some do but I also don't love him. Some see the glass as half empty while others see it as half full, I just see it as a glass with some water in it.

Posted by: FunkyGloveFacewash | September 17, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse

In all honesty, McPhee has been here for over a decade with zero success. And the Post is kissing his behind? Give me a friggin break. I'm of the view that the Caps NEXT GM will be the one to lead them to a Cup.

Posted by: poguesmahone | September 17, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

This right here says it all:

"Yet that night last April, when he left the arena following the loss to the Canadiens, McPhee thought back: What could I have done differently? His conclusion: Nothing."

Nothing! I beg to differ. This is the reason why the caps will never win a cup under this man. Blind Optimism!

It goes right along with how this team operated in the offseason. Other than getting a tough guy that is going to be a healthy scratch for 75% of the games, he did nothing! And for that, it is of my humble opinion that this man has to go! Boudreau is no on the hot seat. It is George Mcphee who should be on the hot seat. He finally has the tools to be successful, yet he is wasting it all away by not doing what is necessary to get this team over the hump! Take a risk! I highly doubt it will ever happen!

Posted by: rockinthered1 | September 17, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

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