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George McPhee: 'I can't allow five days to get in the way of what we think is a terrific team'

Here's a transcript of General Manager George McPhee's comments to reporters this afternoon:

On why he opted to keep the same core of players together for this year:
We had a fabulous season last year and for about six and a half months we were a terrific team and in five days we lost it. We came to camp expecting to do good and we had a real good season with really no adversity.

We start the playoffs three games to one and in five days it fell apart. We didn't play well enough in Game 5 (against Montreal); we couldn't have played better than we did in Game 6. That was probably the best game we played all season. We were pretty good in Game 7 but the goalie was great, our power-play didn't work and we scored one goal a game the last three games and our strength last year was scoring.

It didn't work out but I can't allow five days to get in the way of what we think is a terrific team. So we'd like to keep them together and see how they do this year.

On the competition at center:
Well we're pretty confident in him but there will be some pretty healthy competition for the other spots. We have some other veterans in (David) Steckel and (Boyd) Gordon -- (Tomas) Fleichmann wants to play that second line spot -- but we've got some young players that are pretty good players and we're going to take a look and see what we have.

On what he's looking for out of Alexander Semin, who is in the final year of his current contract:
We all know that he's a wonderful talent. We want him to come back and have a real good year and continue to make us a good team and we'll reevaluate his position at the end of the year. There are some contracts we'll do as we move along during the season, others we might wait on and we'll see how this goes based on how people play.

Whether Semin needs to prove himself in the playoffs:
He was terrific in the playoffs last year. Just because the puck didn't go in for him doesn't mean he didn't play well. He had 44 shots on goal. I don't think there's a player in the league that had that many shots on goal in any series. So no, he doesn't have to prove that he's a good player.

On what's expected of Karl Alzner and John Carlson:
We expect them to play a lot this year. Last year we had eight defensemen here and it was hard to get everyone in; we thought both of them could play here last year. It certainly didn't hurt them that they got more time in Hershey but at some point you can't hold them back any longer and you have to let them go and play. I think we've done a pretty good job of developing some of our other players. We think we've developed both of them well and it's time for them to play because they are good players.

On if the numerous trade-deadline acquisitions changed the chemistry and had a negative impact in the playoffs:
I don't think so. We were up 3-1 in the series and we didn't play well in game five. Is that a result of missing a night's sleep the night before? We got fogged in and no one got home until 6:30 in the morning. Is that the issue, I don't know. We weren't very good in the first 10 minutes of game five and it's a real series. ...We couldn't have played better than we did in games six and seven. I thought our team played well, just their goalie was phenomenal the whole series.

On whether he's concerned about the smaller number of NHL-ready defensemen:
I like having some more depth there but there were complaints from the defensemen and our coaches that carrying eight is too hard to work with. Sitting two guys out every night isn't much fun, so we're going to go with seven this year and hope they stay healthy.

On the goaltender competition:
The expectation is we'll start with (Michal) Neuvirth and (Semyon) Varlamov. We've been waiting for this opportunity with them. We were really high on both of them after we drafted them. We thought they both should have gone in the first round and felt fortunate that we got both of them. Again it was a case of believing that we've developed them properly.

They've both had a couple years pro now and our strategy in signing Jose (Theodore) a couple years ago was he would build that bridge to this opportunity, to this time and everything's gone well for these two guys. We think they're really good and could be a strength of our team this year.

On if the uncertainty of keeping a team together during the salary cap era adds any extra pressure this year:
You read that in different places, that you can only keep a team together for so long in the salary cap era, I'm not sure that's necessarily the case. We'll find out. It might be a better question to ask and be answered in a couple of years, but I think we've managed the cap real well and we think this team can be a good team for a long time.

Certainly every time you come to camp with a team of this caliber you hope that this is the year you do it all and win a Cup. But it doesn't mean if it doesn't happen we're not going to be a good team this year and the following year and the year after that. We've drafted well enough and our team is young enough that we're thinking we can keep it together for awhile if we keep doing the right things under the cap. We'll keep the players we want to keep, and we've done that so far.

On what will happen to Michal Nylander:
At some point we'll assign him to an American league team and he'll get playing but we've got a lot of bodies in Hershey but we're trying to find an opportunity for him with another American league club, but we haven't found it yet.

On his approach to adding pieces at the trade deadline:
You're hopeful that the team you have now can do the job so you don't have to do that at the deadline, but there are some years you get to the deadline and there are good opportunities and it makes your team better so you like to act on it. Other years it doesn't make any sense. We'll see what this year brings. It's quite a-ways away.

By Katie Carrera  | September 18, 2010; 4:00 PM ET
Categories:  George McPhee  
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Just once I'd like to hear George McPhee answer a question in a way that I couldn't have predicted before the interview started. What a waste!

Posted by: Wiley_One1 | September 18, 2010 4:15 PM | Report abuse

So what we be the excuse this year. Last year was the hot goalie excuse. As for Semin, yes, he had 44 shots on goal and all 44 were from 20 feet and out. GMGM and Ted are ruining the chance they have to win. Think about it, down the middle we will have Backstrom, Flash, MJ or MP, Stecks and Gordo. And that strikes fear in who?

When they get bounced again early because the team isn't built for the playoffs, heads have to roll. Our D is just a bunch of puck movers. Teddy ya need to really pay attention to what is happening and quit counting those Standing Room Only seats

Posted by: themightyzep2000 | September 18, 2010 4:23 PM | Report abuse

What no one had the gonads to ask about the Belanger incident

Posted by: jp14710 | September 18, 2010 5:12 PM | Report abuse

What no one had the gonads to ask about the Belanger incident

Posted by: jp14710 | September 18, 2010 5:12 PM

not that he would have said anything anyway - it has been two years and he's finally talking about nyls. we should here something from him about belanger in the summer of 2012

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | September 18, 2010 5:16 PM | Report abuse

Am I surprised that GMGM thinks he has all the right pieces in place to go all the way? No. Am I disappointed? Yes!

"cant allow five days to get in the way of what we think is a terrific team".

Oh really George? Five days got in the way of the ultimate goal... I couldn't BELIEVE that we lost in the first round after such a torrid regular season! But we did... Part of it was some of the players not stepping up, and part of it was the lack of adjustment to playing against the trap. I hope that is duly noted this season.

So to start the season without a legit #2 center doesn't send the right message to the fans. I'm concerned that it's more about the bottom line for the front office than it is about winning a cup. This team has a window of opportunity NOW and they need to seize it NOW! Maybe GMGM knows something we don't. Maybe we DO have a legit #2 center that we don't know about. It remains to be seen, but I doubt it.

Posted by: sca187 | September 18, 2010 5:48 PM | Report abuse

For those who want to hear a Cap employee talk about the Belenger thing find the link to the intervew done on Japers, it was on here a few threads ago. The were interviewing Ted and asked him about it and he said that all of the things Vogel wrote were what happened and that was all he was going to say about a player not on the team.

Posted by: icehammer97 | September 18, 2010 6:09 PM | Report abuse

More than anything I think McPhee is afraid to lose players (which he considers assets). He could very easily have signed one of a few centers towards the end of the summer that would have made the team better, but doing so would've probably meant putting Stecks or Gordo on the waiver wire. He views those two as deals, since they perform slightly above their salary level. He doesn't want to risk paying too much for a player that under-produces again (e.g. Nylander).

It's a fact of hockey that sometimes you're going to overpay. GMGM probably overpaid for Flash, which is why he was looking for a deal to get him out of here. McPhee likely won't wheel and deal unless there's a good opportunity (read: someone is trying to free cap room and desperately needs to dump a player), so expect to see this team on the ice as is for the foreseeable future... :-/

Posted by: Raber | September 18, 2010 6:17 PM | Report abuse

George McPhee: 'I can't allow five days to get in the way of what we think is a terrific team'

in other words as long as the fans keep showing up and selling out the joint, winning in the playoffs is a luxury, NOT a neccesity.

Posted by: joek443 | September 18, 2010 6:24 PM | Report abuse

The issue of whether the Caps should keep the core together or blow the whole thing up and start over is totally bogus. I've never heard any sane person suggest that. What I have heard is that the team should bring in a couple of solid veterans at center and d. That is the real question, why that didn't happen. It amazes me that reporters lob softball questions to GMGM about whether the core of the team should be kept together.

Posted by: zmega | September 18, 2010 6:45 PM | Report abuse

It wasn't "5 days" that separated the Caps from the Cup.

It was more like FORTY-five days between the Caps losing to the Habs and the Hawks hoisting the Cup.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | September 18, 2010 6:53 PM | Report abuse

I have been saying that the Caps need a big dman since Stevens left. Still need one. People think we need a 2C. Probably do. But if you think real hard we didn't have one last year.

Posted by: nimrodrsp | September 18, 2010 7:39 PM | Report abuse

this is a team of stick checkers

Posted by: ovckn8 | September 18, 2010 7:47 PM | Report abuse

If players are complaining about there being 8 D-men on the roster, trade them or demote them. No need to complain, just work harder and play better when you get the opportunity. Prove you deserve to play instead of complaining about it. It sounds like a high school JV team if people are complaining about that to the point the GM decides to go with 7 guys, 2 of which stink.

Posted by: ThePat | September 18, 2010 7:50 PM | Report abuse

So something like:

Ovechkin - Backstrom - Knuble
Semin - Fleischmann - Laich
Chimera - Perrault/Johansson - Fehr
Bradley - Steckel - B. Gordon
Scratches: D.J. King A. Gordon

Green - Schultz
Carlson - Poti
Alzner - Erskine/Sloan

Posted by: jhmoore91 | September 18, 2010 7:56 PM | Report abuse

Good Grief. This team won the President's Trophy - by a mile - last year. You don't make changes to that because you screwed the pooch in the 1st round of the playoffs. You people do realize this is hockey, right? This isn't the NBA. The best teams aren't escorted straight to the Finals. They playoffs are a crap shoot. You have to have two things to win in the playoffs - luck and a hot goalie. The goalie doesn't even have to be all that good - he just has to get hot. Great teams have always gotten embarrassed in the playoffs. It happened to the Oilers. It happened to the Red Wings. The freaking Islanders knocked out the Penguins in 93 and that team was a joke. The Kings and Flames knocked off the Oilers in the first round. If you don't like the way the team is built, don't pay for tickets. I've been watching this team for almost 30 years and this is the best team they've ever had. What do you want McPhee to say about Belanger? How about this, "I'm not allowed to talk about a player under contract to another team." Duh. Now I'm starting to understand why other long term caps fans didn't like the bandwagoners. They don't know hockey and they're the first to jump ship. I've said it before I'll say it again. There wasn't a single free agent that was worth the money they got this off season. The Caps have built an organization through draft picks and young players. Why would they sacrifice keeping the players they want (like an Alzner or Carlson) by signing a 2nd rate 40 point center for 4 years just because he became a free agent after one solid year? Why would they go out and pay for a defenseman when they have two coming in with potential through the roof? I mean come on. Get over the playoffs last year and open your eyes.

Posted by: DisgustedinArlington | September 18, 2010 8:10 PM | Report abuse

Wow, to thank many of us were right all summer is scary. GMGM and BB weren't just spinning with the hot goaltender excuse, they actually #%*$@ believe it! It wasn't 5 days, the Caps actually had looked out of sorts getting to the 3 games to 1 lead. The Habs had played well, and BB hadn't adjusted at all. Then it went downhill fast. I wish this interview hadn't taken place, it just makes my gall bladder hurt. As far as Michael Nylander, it would have been better for GMGM to say: "I hate his guts, and that sob will be lucky if we let him fill the rat turd shakers at the concession stands". Maybe the interviewer (who didn't bring up Belanger) could have asked what the heck Nylander actually did to get Nylandered.

Posted by: kcbrichmond | September 18, 2010 8:21 PM | Report abuse

I have heard so many people go on and on about how we don't play playoff hockey and BB's system doesn't work...and I TRULY tried to see that perspective. I gotta agree with GMGM...we had an AWESOME team last season, and unfortunately the playoffs are a crap shoot to a certain degree...sure we could have used more net presence, but Halak WAS phenomenal and nobody can deny that! We outplayed that team by a large margain. We lost the eventual Stanley Cup champs the year before in 7 games...thats nothing to be ashamed of! And making it to the playoffs with the flyers was a MIRACLE in the frst place! Only ONE team wins a year! S**t happens people!

Posted by: capscoach | September 18, 2010 8:23 PM | Report abuse

the president's trophy is a spittoon...and should be treated as such. nothing matters in the regular season, other than making the playoffs. obviously, having home ice advantage means nothing to this team...because they've probably blown more home ice game 7s than i'd care to remember. sorry george - i was tired of excuses two years ago. losing to the 16th seeded team last year is inexcusable, and you should be fired for not doing anything to address this team's glaring weakness on the blue line. i like carlson. i like green. beyond those two, there is little to inspire fear in the opposition. we are probably worse on the blue line this year than we were last year. you got rid of the wrong players in shamo, juice and pothier (while keeping sloan, erskine and shultz).

you have all these assets from years of high draft's past the time when you should have parlayed them into the kind of player this team has been missing since tinordi left.

i don't think gmgm has been a total bust - but the only thing that matters is the postseason...and i get the sense that he is just in denial when it comes to what kind of team wins...and what kind doesn't.

Posted by: dingram3 | September 18, 2010 8:32 PM | Report abuse

As always, the pessimism abounds in Capsland. For god's sake people, you really are too much. I know a bunch are going to respond about how the organization owes you a Cup for all of your years as fans, and find ways to prove how much more you know about managing and coaching and probably think you could lace up the skates and show these guys a thing or two on the ice. I was blown away with disappointment as well, but after a season of beating up on the Pens, racking up the points, and leaving the Phone Booth rewarded almost every night, I felt very confident in the team. It's obvious many of you don't like McPhee and it seems many are beginning to question Bruce as well., but do you honestly think you know more than these guys? You sound like typical boo-hooing Redskin fans. Like it or not, McPhee has a MUCH better feel for the pulse of the team and is heads above you in player evaluation. 2 years ago everyone was after Schultz, Bruce kept with him and though he is not a bruiser, he was extremely consistent last season. Now, the call is for a "tough stay-at-home D man" (cliche'). Why not give Alzner and Carlson a chance to prove themselves. At center, we managed last year to produce an incredible point differential which is a very telling stat. All those goals, all those wins, and most before we picked up Belanger for some help approaching the playoffs. If MJ is even 60% of what Backstrom brought his first season, he'll do fine. Give Flash a chance to begin the season fit, as opposed to last year, plus some time to adapt to a center's responsibility, and he may do great at #2. Is there ANYBODY out there who agrees it was a great regular season and perhaps GMGM is accurate? A couple weak offensive outings against Montreal was tough to digest, but is it fair to use those few games vs. the entire regular season?

Posted by: gonchpup | September 18, 2010 8:39 PM | Report abuse

nobody can deny that! We outplayed that team by a large margain. We lost the eventual Stanley Cup champs the year before in 7 games...thats nothing to be ashamed of! And making it to the playoffs with the flyers was a MIRACLE in the frst place! Only ONE team wins a year! S**t happens people!

1. They didn't outplay the Habs if you look at the whole series. they could have easily been down 3 games to 1. Great teams take advantage of those gifts, this team does NOT.

2. If Halak is SO great then how come the Habs let him go??

Posted by: joek443 | September 18, 2010 8:44 PM | Report abuse

GMGM: if last years team was perfect, then why did you think you needed additions at the trade deadline? Losing Pothier for Corvo worked out well. Then you had a chance to at least keep Belanger this season, but noooooo. The guy wasn't the center the team needs, but at least he wins faceoffs! Flash is a wing not a center.

Posted by: kcbrichmond | September 18, 2010 8:44 PM | Report abuse

"Why would they go out and pay for a defenseman when they have two coming in with potential through the roof?"

Well, they tried to sign Willie Mitchell so McPhee obviously disagrees with you.

There's room for Carlson, Alzner, and an additional defenseman, unless you think Erskine and Sloan are too good not to play regularly.

Posted by: alanb1 | September 18, 2010 8:51 PM | Report abuse


The ice was tilted at an 80 degree angle at the Habs end! game 5 was pretty bad and game 2 was not ideal, but we outplayed least in my opinion...and I realize that you strongly disagree with that.

THe habs gave up Halak b/c we live in a salary cap world, price is decent, and they have other more pressing holes they need to fill.

Posted by: capscoach | September 18, 2010 8:54 PM | Report abuse

this is a good team that looks much better than they actually are because they play in the WORST division in hockey.

that is about to change and that's a good thing. they're not gonna be able to breeze thru in their division anymore and we're in for a rude awakening.

Posted by: joek443 | September 18, 2010 8:55 PM | Report abuse

This repeated talk of one bad week, 5 bad days, the hot goalie, the bad power play is cop out nonsense. It allows them to absolve themselves of any personal responsibility. I held out some hope for some needs to be addressed, I do like the DJ King move, but this confidence in the face of April's disaster isn't confidence at all, it's denial. They say you learn more from failure than success, but it seems the Caps have learned nothing at all.

Their shirts shouldn't say 'stay angry', they should say 'stay delusional'.

Posted by: Fletch22 | September 18, 2010 9:00 PM | Report abuse

I don't think they felt like they could "breeze" through the division last year. Most games were hard-fought and you can bet that those below the Caps were gunning for them each and every game. Sometimes, being on top is more difficult than being the underdog. They are not in for a rude awakening. They know what to expect of the division rivals, but I agree, the division is looking stronger and I think we are in for some good hockey!

Posted by: gonchpup | September 18, 2010 9:02 PM | Report abuse

@ joek443

what was their record against the other divisions...some of our toughest games last season were against our own division. You usually make decent arguments even if I disagree with them, but the weak division game is a crock...we beat almost every highly competitive team last year...and interestingly struggles against the Habs even in the regular season.

I think we will struggle more this season b/c of a lack of a 2nd line center and two new very young but promising D men who will have to make their share of mistakes to learn.

Posted by: capscoach | September 18, 2010 9:07 PM | Report abuse


that is a good point...we were the team to beat last season...esp. durring that winning streak, and generally speaking teams brought their A game against us.

Posted by: capscoach | September 18, 2010 9:10 PM | Report abuse

The "we ran into the hot goalie" excuse is only feasible if you have an offensively challenged team like the Caps' teams of the past.

This is a highest scoring team on the planet so that excuse is truly laughable.

Posted by: joek443 | September 18, 2010 9:11 PM | Report abuse

some of our toughest games last season were against our own division.

this is a division that sent ONLY one team to the playoffs last year, right??

Posted by: joek443 | September 18, 2010 9:14 PM | Report abuse

"I was blown away with disappointment as well"

Posted by: gonchpup

i was too - as well as all caps fans. some just channel that into anger - with a heads must role mentality
since i have no control or input - i'll trust ted/gmgm/bb to do what they believe is best

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | September 18, 2010 9:16 PM | Report abuse

I think it was more than the "hot goalie" excuse. Halak, in my opinion, was the difference in maybe one game. The Habs D in general just played smart and aggressive - probably as many blocked shots per game as Halak saves. What killed us was not a glaring weakness that was noticed all year, but a profficient, league-best offense and powerplay that dried up. Play coach and consider how much adjusting you would do. It was just as likely that the boys would break out of the slump on their own and rattle of 4 straight powerplay goals.

Posted by: gonchpup | September 18, 2010 9:20 PM | Report abuse

IMO the three best players for the Habs in that series were Gorges, Gill and Halak in that order.

the first two are the kinda players who are not "sexy" enough to play for this team.

Posted by: joek443 | September 18, 2010 9:25 PM | Report abuse


fair point...gonchup was also correct when he said the Habs overall D was excellent.

Do I think BB had trouble adjusting to the Habs I think he is an overall good coach...yes! He has improved this team every season so far. I think his biggest thing is that he needs to get a little more demanding, and treat the players the same...he def. likes the guys he coached in Hershey.

Maybe this sounds childish, but I really wish that the people who are so consistently negative would get some perspective and/or find a "better" team. The Caps have got to fix some stuff, but they are fun to watch, talented, and getting better...I really just don't think we have that much to complain about.

Posted by: capscoach | September 18, 2010 9:31 PM | Report abuse

we have lots of non-sexy players...knuble,Laich,schultz,fehr,even boyd gordon was good for the playoffs at least! we just happen to have drafted some pretty "sexy" players as well...and the Habs would take them if they could get them! And you know it!

Posted by: capscoach | September 18, 2010 9:34 PM | Report abuse

If there were any tough games against SE opponents, it was caps usually didn't show up until the middle or end of the second period. BB, the master motivator.

It will be interesting this year if they really get challenged and they lose few games in a row. Will they fight through it and use it to motivate them, or will it be more excuses. I suspect the tape from the Montreal series is now mandatory viewing for all other teams.

Posted by: Fletch22 | September 18, 2010 9:35 PM | Report abuse

How many Stanley Cups did Gretzky win? The answer I'm pretty sure is four. Messier? Six.

How many President's Trophies did either of them win?

Who knows and who cares.

BTW, we have had a really solid D-man since Stevens - Tinordi.

If we had Tinordi on this team and Mike Ridley, or Kono, all from back in the day, we'd be odds on favorite.

gonchpup: I for one have never knocked Schultz. I have touted him as +/- winner and fiar value now for a second pair D-man.

Unfortunately, he's being miscast with Green as a first pair D-men. Just like Flash is woefully out of position as a #2C (he could be #2LW on almost every other team but ours).

And joek443 is right (OK, once). The Caps wer outplayed in games 1 and 2 and lucky to get a win in game 2.

Nobody in hockey believes a team can't upgrade from John Erskine as a top 6 D. All you needed to do was move Flash and bring up AGordon and poof $2M extra space + Ersk money = $3M + in space. It can be done. Easily.

joek: I disagree on the "rude awakening." If Caps get wins/pts this year (I've posted the math before) vs SE Div at the same ratio they did last year vs the rest of the league, we drop from 121 pts to 115 and still get the worthless spittoon. Your argument here is extremely weak.

gonchpup: I have posted numerous times comparison between Caps and Hershey last year. The Texans or whatever clogged the slot just like Habs did vs Caps. Only difference is the Bears changed the strategy and won. Caps kept up the shooting gallery approach and lots (look up Brendan Morrison comments, call em sour grapes, or be open minded).

The biggest factor in my opinion Caps losing is BB got outcoached.

BB has done wonders for this team, but in four playoff series he has been outcoached three times (he never figured out how to stop Flyers from swarming the crease, how to check Crosby or how to beat Martin's defensive scheme). The only time he won the "coachfest" was against Torts who may have turned in one of the worst coaching performances of the millenium.

Bottomn line: McPhee must do better at constructing a balanced team and BB must outcoach four other coaches for us to win.

Is this the year?

Based on past performance...?

Posted by: tominsocal1 | September 18, 2010 9:50 PM | Report abuse

Dear DisgustedinArlington, I could not have stated it any better myself. This Caps team is on the cusp. And, as bad as this might sound, it may not happen this year. Just enjoy watching a verrrrry good young team that had their guts ripped out by the Habs last year. They are going to be very good again this year, and with an attitude. Might not win the PCup again, but who cares? I think they will go into the playoffs on a mission. Then........who knows (remember Gretzky's early Oiler teams)? It'll be fun......just enjoy.

Posted by: prestoj | September 18, 2010 9:52 PM | Report abuse

we have lots of non-sexy players...knuble,Laich,schultz,fehr,even boyd gordon was good for the playoff

Only one of those players is a D-man and I don't think any forward in the league would lose a sleep over playing against the ole #55 or the rest of the D.

it's about having a more BALANCED team, not about turning this team into the '75 Flyers.

Posted by: joek443 | September 18, 2010 9:53 PM | Report abuse


really? are we going to actually FAULT BB for getting us into the playoffs and overtime in game 7 against the flyers? That was a minor miracle! The team ran out of was an impressive run to the playoffs...the Habs was a legit dissapointment, but the Pens just might have been a better team that year!

Posted by: capscoach | September 18, 2010 9:57 PM | Report abuse

capscoach - I agree. Probably easier and a safer bet to work from within. Plenty of talent from Hershey on up. These guys rarely take off on day one and to expect so is unrealistic, but trades and free-agency for a quick fix is at best a 50/50. This young team will only get better.

Posted by: gonchpup | September 18, 2010 10:01 PM | Report abuse

Who is this guy Ashton Rome? He seemed to know how to find the back of the net. Just found his stats on the usual sites but anyone know of him better, seen him play for the Steelheads?

Posted by: BernieWolfeFan | September 18, 2010 10:05 PM | Report abuse

Ok....schultz is a GOOD 4 on almost any team! Just b/c We don't have a top caliber stay at home D man does not mean schultz sucks! He is consistent and covers well for Green when he decides to be an extra forward. Is he is very good and most teams would be very happy to add him to their roster...and he has been improving every year.

Posted by: capscoach | September 18, 2010 10:06 PM | Report abuse

Ok....schultz is a GOOD 4 on almost any team! Just b/c We don't have a top caliber stay at home D man does not mean schultz sucks! He is consistent and covers well for Green when he decides to be an extra forward. Is he is very good and most teams would be very happy to add him to their roster...and he has been improving every year.

Posted by: capscoach | September 18, 2010 10:07 PM | Report abuse

tominsocal1 - What the Bears did in to win the Calder was not through adjustment, but being the far better team that eventually broke through. Even the in first couple of losses they were clearly a far better team and eventually just outmatched their rivals. What Bruce probably did was play the odds against the Habs. With a powerplay such as the one they had, how much adjustment should you make? Do you scrap the most potent pp in the league or count on the drought coming to an end? At 1 for 10? 1 for 15? Tough call. It's a no-win here because if he did mess with it and nothing improved would people say,"... at least he tried..." or would they say, " ... why did he mess with a proven thing..." ?

Posted by: gonchpup | September 18, 2010 10:18 PM | Report abuse

I would have no problem with Schultz if he was a 3 or 4 on the depth chart but he's their top 2.

it's the same problem with Green, he's a perfect number two d-man.

the Cowboys had Alvin Harper and Michael Irvin when they started their run in the early '90's. A lot of people thought Harper was as good or even better than Irvin. What most casual fans didn't understand was Irvin was double-covered while Harper got a single coverage.

Harper left the Cowboys via free agency and was never heard from again. Irvin made to the HOF.

You can say Green is your number one d-man and give him 25 minutes/game. That doesn't mean he's as good as Doughty, Pronger, Keith, Chara, Seabrook, Weber, etc...

Posted by: joek443 | September 18, 2010 10:22 PM | Report abuse

I better call it quits for tonight - too many typos appearing. A few more weeks to go! Bring on the Devils!

Posted by: gonchpup | September 18, 2010 10:24 PM | Report abuse

capscoach: Caps RAN OUT OF STEAM??? Did the Flyers who made the playoffs this past year in a shootout only because NYR banged one of the post in OT run out OF STEAM?

Did you read my note? BB has done wonders for this team? Did you watch the series vs Flyers? We LOST because they crashed the net with IMPUNITY and got away with it at every turn!

BB got outcoached and that's all I have to say about that one.

NOW...agree with 110% on Schultz! If McPhee had gotten us a Willie Mitchell or someone in the offseason, Schultz could be the very adequate #2-pair D man he is. But making him a #1 pair at this point in his career is like making a 3B play shortstop! OK, happened with Ripken...but you get my point. Carlson and Alzner as rookies should be considered "third pair." Poti and Schultz are second pair on performance. Green is the best in the league on offense but second pair on D. Erskine is 4th pair.

Who is our true #1 pair defensive defenseman? Who fills that slot?

The answer: Nobody, because you can put a person in a role but you can't make him to the job if he can't.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | September 18, 2010 10:45 PM | Report abuse


I think the "5 days" was in reference to the last 3 games of the playoffs between the Caps and Montreal.

But I see your point in the amount of time that had elapsed between the Caps' elimination and the Blackhawks hoisting the Cup.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | September 18, 2010 10:50 PM | Report abuse

gonchpup: I'm going to pick apart your argument step by step.

First, Hershey was in the Finals against the Texans. I don't have standings in front of me, but I will bet you every dollar I have those two teams were closer in regular season points than the Caps and Habs. Habs beating Caps was one of the most lop-sided wins in SC history if you compare Caps pts 121 to Habs pts like 90.

So how can you say Bears won because talent "overcame" other team talent if on same token Caps with more superior couldn't overcome Montreal? Why didn't Caps superior talent "break through?"

I can't recall the specific players, but I remember fater Bears won quotes in paper from several Bears (maybe AGordon) saying how they changed style from "pretty" to "grinding" because pretty style wasn't "getting the job done."

Some might say Caps were up 3-1 so why change style...well, Caps were lucky to be up 3-1 given getting outplayed games 1 and 2. Bruce should have had a Come to Jesus meeting before Game 5. I'm betting Scotty Bowman would have. Oh well.

You are overlooking that the Caps PP success, while very impressive, was built on pizzazz and not hard work. Caps remind some of us of Blues in early 90s who would score goals but not win in Playoffs. Brett Hull had 86 one year and they went nowhere, even with Al MacInnis (Green?) and Oates (Backstrom?).

Some above posted that how can people here question McPhee and Boudrreau the supposed experts. Well, I've been watching on and off since mid-60s, and I've seen Championship teams, Leafs, Bruins, Flyers, Habs, Islander, Oilers, Penguins, Red Wings, Devils, and not one of em looked like today's Washington Capitals. They all had stronger D and effective checking lines. You can offer that the Caps will be the first in history to break the mold, but I will offer back I will believe it only when I see it.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | September 18, 2010 11:00 PM | Report abuse

CapsFan75: Yes, McPhee and Boudreau try to make it out that if Halak hadn't stood on his head for those few games, the Cup was ours.

Just like that.

We would have then played the Flyers and they would have folded up like my stack of National Park t-shirts in my drawer (I think I like the Death Valley ones best).

Then we would have cruised past the Pens (we would have kept Crosby out of the crease, unlike 2009, because George says so) and then we would have whipped the Hawks since after all we played them once in their barn in the regular season and beat them (ok, but we got really lucky with regards to the penalty calls in the 3rd period).

As you know, I'm not one of the Negative Nancys. I've been posting here 2-3 years. I'm also not one of the Kool-Aid drinkers. I give credit where due based on watching hockey back to when Bobby Hull had hair. You've been watching a long time too. A lot of fans on this blog have been watching a long time and you'd think McPhee would consider that before he makes some of these comments.

Let's just say this: If George McPhee had been Montreal GM over the last 13 years, how would he have fared?

Posted by: tominsocal1 | September 18, 2010 11:14 PM | Report abuse

Stamkos, still just 20, returned to his Toronto-area home this past offseason and lived with his family. He worked out with good pals Michael Del Zotto of the New York Rangers and teammate Steve Downie, among others, all putting themselves in the hands of fitness guru and former NHLer Gary Roberts.

"That wasn't too fun," Stamkos told "But it's something that needs to be done. It's pretty intense, but I wouldn't have it any other way."

Hope the Bolts provide the much needed competition and hopefully that will wake up McPhee!!!

Posted by: joek443 | September 18, 2010 11:15 PM | Report abuse


It does seem that Bruce got out-coached during this past playoff series even though he certainly is a good coach (and a VAST improvement) over Hanlon. I think he should have made a few tweaks to the PP during this past playoff series.

You're right in that the Caps need another good defenseman who can be an upgrade over Erskine, someone who can pair up with either Green or Poti. Mitchell seemed like a possibility, I thought.

Your comparisons to baseball positions is interesting even though I would probably compare the line positions (2nd line vs 3rd line) or defensive pairings (1st vs 2nd pairing) with the spots in the batting order as opposed to playing positions on the fields. But I would compare playing winger as opposed to center like playing 2nd base instead of shortstop (or vice versa.)

Posted by: CapsFan75 | September 18, 2010 11:19 PM | Report abuse


I think the Bolts are a team on the rise. In any case, I will be traveling up to Montreal this March to root against the Bolts.

I had vowed last year to travel to a game in the park of the team that dumped the Pens in the playoffs. Since it was Montreal, that's why I'm going. So, of course, I strategically chose an opponent I would root against without guilt. (Purposely chose a game when the Caps were on a road trip and figured a team in either the Southeast conference or the Atlantic conference would fit the category of a team I can root for Montreal against.)

Posted by: CapsFan75 | September 18, 2010 11:26 PM | Report abuse


Don't worry, Tom, I don't consider you one of those "negative Nancys".

I think this year's edition of Montreal was a hard group to beat. (The Caps would have probably lost a playoff series to Ottawa or New Jersey, as well.) They might have been able to beat this year's group of Flyers.

I also think McPhee and company should take a look at what happened and how they should improve their odds against the teams they have trouble with. This includes Montreal, NJ, various Western Conference teams, along with opponents in any playoffs past.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | September 18, 2010 11:33 PM | Report abuse

You know, I really have to wonder what goes through George McPhee's head. I mean, he makes these comments...and I wonder...

Seriously, you'd think he was talking to a grammar school audience of 6th graders, where he expects they are gullible and will swallow any pablum he dishes out.

Memo to George: We weren't born yesterday. These quotes aren't just being read by Bethesda lawyers who just learned about hockey and the Caps in April, 2007. Your quotes are read by McKenzie and THN and by the beat writers in Toronto and Montreal where hockey is God like Clapton in rock and even by retired icons like the aforementioned Mr. Bowman.

Does Scotty Bowman believe the Caps lost to Montreal because Halak got hot? Can a beat writer here call Scotty and ask him?

I myself tasted the pablum that was being offered free to all fans but it tasted like cardboard so I spit it out.

It is very sad that the newspapers of today simply accept the quotes from local sports executives as though they were ordained by the Lord and carved in stone like the Commandments. (And on the Seventh Day, Flash centered the second line to the Cup.)

If you want to believe the WORD though just step up to the altar and have the Kool-Aid and pablum and you will have received the communion. And then you can be a Stepford Fan and go forward with the happy smile and tell everyone that it will be good. Even if we lose, it will be good. Really, it's all good. It doesn't matter that every other Stanley Cup champion did it a different way, it will be GOOD.

Remember, guys, I'm NOT one of the Negative Nancys.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | September 18, 2010 11:41 PM | Report abuse

CapsFan75: Very good point. Maybe instead of me always saying the Caps are trying to force three shortstops to be outfielders, I should be saying they have all clean-up hitters but not enough table-setters.

It all goes back though to the basic argument that get ready to gag) joek443, cstanton1 and I and many others are perfectly in agreement on - the Caps aren't balanced.

Too many snipers and not enough tanks; too many fighters and not enough bombers; too many fast frigates and not enough battleships. Too many prima donnas and not enough character actors.

You also have a good point about Caps matching up poorly vs Western teams. Sems like the further west the Caps go, the worse they do, doesn't it?

So, when we know a team intimately, like in 7 games, we lose; when we see a team once a year, we lose; when we play the team regularly throughout the year but not in a 7-game series, we win.

Is there a pattern there?

Posted by: tominsocal1 | September 19, 2010 12:02 AM | Report abuse

After watching the Stanley Cup, does any here really think the Caps could have hung with either team? Did anyone see how physical that series was? Semin, Flash, Green, Shultz, Gordo, Stecks, Poti would have folded like cheap suits.

Compare the Cap centers of Backstrom (Legitimate #1 center) Flash (probably the worst #2 center in hockey) MJ or Matty P (Will they even make the team. And, is either built to be a checking line center. And then David "Can I be any Slower" Steckel and Boyd "I've Fallen And I can't Get Up" Gordon. No stay at home D-man. No phyiscal D-man. This is a Cup winning team? Really?

Lost to the Flyers in 7 at home. We then struggled big time against a very weak Rangers team and got bailed out by the old man, also in a game 7. We then get toasted by the Pens in game 7, at home. We then lose another game 7,at home. That's 1-3 in game 7's, ALL AT HOME. Isn't that what you play the regular season for? Home ice advantage. Now we have our caoch and GM throwing arounf the old "hot goalie" excuse. Keep on spinning Caps, denile isn't a river in Egypt

Posted by: themightyzep2000 | September 19, 2010 12:16 AM | Report abuse

"It didn't work out but I cant allow five days to get in the way of what we think is a terrific team. So we'd like to keep them together and see how they do this year." An early out again this year and you better be waching from another city next year.

Posted by: festus75 | September 19, 2010 12:26 AM | Report abuse

Holly Cow! Reading some of these post here would make you believe that we do not have a great team. Ground control to space cadets: The Caps were the best team last year - no if and buts, the best, period. Losing one series does not mean crap. The Stanley Cup is just one tournament and not always the best team wins - Heck I would not be surprised if the best teams has lost the tournament more than they have won it. You might want to look that up, I personally don't care, it is just a tournament.
GMGM is one heck of manager and he has created one heck of a team, anyone believing otherwise is just foolish. Maybe if you fall in love with the game and stop loving or idolizing players then you will be able to see clearly how this guy has manage to put a great product on the ice.

Posted by: hock1 | September 19, 2010 12:28 AM | Report abuse

hock1: Where do I start?

First off, David Bowie's song is Ground Control to Major Tom. And, in case you're wondering, I am Major Tom!

The Caps were the best team no ifs, ands or buts?

Why don't you go ask Wayne Gretzky. He's won P Trophies, Cups, 1st Team All-Stars, Jr Hockey player of the month. Most Shorthanded Goals in a Career, etc, what counts. It's the Cups!

"The Stanley Cup is just one tournament." Did you really write that? My daughter has her doctorate in clinical psychology and she will do what needs to be done, she will help you have your head examined.

So, to dispute your assertion, there are ifs, and and buts!

Jesus, God, it's just so hard, but where do I go next?

"Losing one series does not mean crap."

Ask Pavel Bure about 1994.

hock1: May I ask a question? How many quarts of red Kool-Aid and how many bowls of Caps pablum have you consumed?

I suggest you find one of those groups that meets twice a week and go in there and sit in the circle and then stand up and say, when it's your turn, "My name is hock1 and I'm a McPhee believer."

Help is there, if you're willing to ask. Please, go now, before it's too late.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | September 19, 2010 1:04 AM | Report abuse

Well, that's it for me tonight.

I am tominsocal1 and I feel I've fought the good fight.

I am neither a Kool-Aid drinker nor a Negative Nancy and I've found ridiculous arguments today from both sides of the aisle.

I have to tell you though in 53 years on Earth except when I was a wee bit of a lad listening to Nikita Kruschev admonishing our President while banging his shoe on a desk I've never heard nor read anything as ridiculous as this:

"The Stanley Cup is just one tournament and not always the best team wins - Heck I would not be surprised if the best teams has lost the tournament more than they have won it. You might want to look that up, I personally don't care, it is just a tournament."

Upon reading this post from hock1 I'm seriously wondering if Demi Moore was wrong and the first of the Seven Signs wasn't a perception by sports fans that their teams weren't all the best.

Maybe it is true that the world really is coming to an end shortly; as such, I guess then it dosn't matter if we have Flash as #2C. It just doesn't matter. Do you hear me? The world is coming to an end. The Stanley Cup is just a tournament and the world is coming to an end.


Posted by: tominsocal1 | September 19, 2010 1:20 AM | Report abuse

Two points. This year's team is worse than last year's. So McPhee's justification is a bunch of horse manure. Also, to blame losing to Montreal on getting fogged in is about as lame as it gets. This team can't go all the way with this clown as GM.

Posted by: poguesmahone | September 19, 2010 8:03 AM | Report abuse

>>>>Holly Cow! Reading some of these post here would make you believe that we do not have a great team. Ground control to space cadets: The Caps were the best team last year - no if and buts, the best, period. Losing one series does not mean crap. The Stanley Cup is just one tournament and not always the best team wins - Heck I would not be surprised if the best teams has lost the tournament more than they have won it. You might want to look that up, I personally don't care, it is just a tournament.
GMGM is one heck of manager and he has created one heck of a team, anyone believing otherwise is just foolish. Maybe if you fall in love with the game and stop loving or idolizing players then you will be able to see clearly how this guy has manage to put a great product on the ice.

Leonsis? Is that you? Talk about clueless...............

Posted by: poguesmahone | September 19, 2010 8:05 AM | Report abuse


Don't mean to pile on, but the Stanley Cup is not just one tournament. It is THE tournament.

McPhee did a good job building the team largely because they tanked on purpose for few years in order to build the team back up. OV was dumb luck, but he's had some decent draft picks, but more than his fair share of busts. Getting a 1st round pick for from the Flyers for Eminger was a shrewd move, though I suspect it had more to do with the fact that Paul Holmgren trades away 1st round picks like it's his job.

I've said before here Tom, that McPhee wouldn't get away with these statements in Montreal, possibly Toronto, Philly or even Detroit. He shouldn't be able to get away with it here.

Posted by: Fletch22 | September 19, 2010 8:25 AM | Report abuse

Maybe the Pollyannas on here should realize that many of us have followed this team since the 70's. This is essentially the closest we've gotten to having a really Cup competitive team. We just want Ted, GMGM, and BB to add the final pieces to push this team over the top. Instead we here them blaming the series on the stinkin' airplane getting fogged in! If Ted can afford the Wizards and the Verizon Center, then the Caps could have used the money they have left under the cap to add a C and D! Other than that everything is great and I love this team, so there!

Posted by: kcbrichmond | September 19, 2010 8:33 AM | Report abuse

Now I'm starting to understand why other long term caps fans didn't like the bandwagoners. They don't know hockey and they're the first to jump ship. I've said it before I'll say it again. There wasn't a single free agent that was worth the money they got this off season

Posted by: DisgustedinArlington | September 18, 2010 8:10 PM
Best. Post. Ever.

There wasn't a free agent out there who wasn't some cases, vastly overpaid. It's the same old about whatever the Capitals don't have, like every GM out there wants to give the Capitals their best player for nothing. This ain't Xbox 360.

It's interesting the bandwagoners say how this team is (not good)", but they're so disappointed when they end up going out early. If the team (isn't very good), why bother? You knew they were (bad) in the first place. /eyeroll

Posted by: pga6 | September 19, 2010 8:38 AM | Report abuse

this is washington dc after all, the SPIN capital of the world... some of you people have excuses for everything, should call Ted to see if he'll give you a job defending this team for every catastrophic playoff failure.

The SC is just a tournament? why don't they call the KHL to see if they can participate in their tournament instead??

Posted by: joek443 | September 19, 2010 8:53 AM | Report abuse

Halak got super hot last year; he was the main reason the Habs got to round 3 after beating the Caps and PENS (defending champs)! Martin put in a system that gave his team the best chance to win and got extraordinary effort out of some mediocre players. The Flyers got a tired, two 7 game series Habs and wore them down, brutallized them with power. So I think that BB was outcoached in the playoffs AGAIN. This year BB goes far in the playoffs, or he is gone.

GMGM has built a very good team, but a few pieces are missing. The most pressing is a serious 1st pairing blueliner to go along with Green. A consistent second line center may develop out of MJ, MP, or Flash -- or be traded for by the deadline. Who knows what NJ will have to trade away and what teams will collapse and trade away a veteran for AHL'ers or picks??? GMGM may pick up someone to pair with Green when the asking price is better.

I do not see Laich ahead of Fehr on the 2nd line as Fehr is a better scorer and Laich is a better grinder. But I guess BB wants Laich in front of the net, and he is more of a veteran than Fehr.

I would like a see a third line that can grind and stiffle another team's first line. I think one of the Gordons centering Laich and Bradley/Chimeria may work well, if they concontrate on forechecking, cycling, and working the boards. Not glamorous, but it pays off.

The 4th line is all about energy and playing defense first. Chipping in a goal is nice, but they must work on locking down a scoring line.

The PK needs revamping. Semin and Backs on it worked. Maybe OV too if that much time on the ice would not kill him over the year. The Gordons seem good for centering. Not crazy about Stecks besides the faceoff. Carlson and Alzner could work too with young legs. Still missing a mean -and- effective blueliner for the pk.

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS1 | September 19, 2010 9:45 AM | Report abuse

I think luck is important during a playoff series but I also believe you can influence your own luck to a certain degree. The Caps exhibited a low hockey IQ in that series last year (you were correct in that assessment Ted), whether it be lack of coaching adjustments or players not listening - who knows? We can only hope that both have learnt from that sobering experience. Time will tell.

Posted by: FloridaCapsFan | September 19, 2010 9:53 AM | Report abuse

Gotta agree with gonchpup's assessments. While Halak was no doubt the 'hot goalie' a team needs to win in the playoffs, that was only part of it. Geez, how many shots didn't even get to him? Our offensive drought was not just a 'slump' that we had to play thru. Give credit where it is due-the Habs, to a man, were committed to TEAM defense. At some point, we needed to realize that the sniper shots just weren't going to get thru.
As for our offseason activity, or lack thereof, at least everyone on this board seems to agree that we'll have little trouble getting to the post season, even just as we are now. So we have several months of hockey to see how JC and KA develop on defense. Maybe, just maybe, as some have suggested, Flash will show some improvement at center, or MaJo or MP will take over there. Maybe not. But we'll have some salary cap space available for free agents when we know where our most glaring need lies.

Posted by: mcfarkus | September 19, 2010 10:57 AM | Report abuse

GEORGE MCPHEE= UTTER MORON . Devoting anymore time to his asinine commentary is a waste.

Posted by: cstanton1 | September 19, 2010 2:38 PM | Report abuse

there isn't a GM in pro sports who takes less accountability, is more delusional (or a liar), and is more obtuse about his own team. 5 days, lol. That's great! Using that idiotic logic, you could have 5 bad days every single yr and get kicked out in the 1st round and consider the yr to be a success that requires no changes.

When McPhee finally gets booted, this team has a chance. Until then, forget it.

Posted by: cstanton1 | September 19, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

DisgustedinArlington - Couldn't agree with you more. These Caps are fun to watch and are a really good team. I am amazed some of them even call themselves fans as they never have anything positive to say.

Posted by: ds_kelly | September 20, 2010 9:37 AM | Report abuse

The idea of NHL hockey is to win the Stanley Cup. It is not to be fun to watch and it is not just to be a really good team.

Posted by: poguesmahone | September 20, 2010 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Count me in the ranks of the disappointed at these comments, especially the "5 days" remark. Having said that, I think McPhee and Bourdreau deserve a lot of praise for quickly taking this team from the dregs to a very high level. However, having said that, I think its becoming clear that McPhee and Boudreau have taken this team as far as they can and new management is necessary if this team is ever going to take the necessary steps to go from "very good yet ultimately disappointing" to "stanley cup champion."

Posted by: Gould23 | September 20, 2010 3:20 PM | Report abuse

this is a good team that looks much better than they actually are because they play in the WORST division in hockey.

that is about to change and that's a good thing. they're not gonna be able to breeze thru in their division anymore and we're in for a rude awakening.


Oh please. We played 4 more games against the Southeast than the Atlantic and Northeast did. Plus neither Philly or Pittsburgh had a winning record against the SE.

As far as the team losing in the first round of the playoffs all these theories thrown out by a lot of people are mostly silly. The Caps lost because they went a ridiculous 1-33 on their PP. It was frustrating beyond belief but they didn't lose because they aren't constructed well enough or because they didn't have Chris Pronger standing in front of the net. The Caps lost because they couldn't put the puck in the net on the power play. The power play was not a problem in either of the two previous playoffs so it's not something that could be expected especially since they led the NHL in PP% by a wide margin in the regular season.

Some of the guys on this board are so blinded by hate for GMGM that you grasp at every little thing as proof that he's incompetant. Personally I think the offseason has played out like it should save the Belanger debacle. Personally I didn't want the Caps to resign him but it obviously could have been handled better. But in a salary cap world I'm glad the Caps didn't overpay for a high profile defenseman or center when the answers just might be in the organization already. If they aren't ready then we make a deal or two during the season.

Posted by: ouvan59 | September 20, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Apparently GMGM still has blinders on. That playoff series clearly showed the weak points in the team. If he can't see it and make adjustments, then the team is destined to lose again as teams will be studying that playoff footage to learn how to beat them.

Posted by: madflava | September 20, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

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