Thursday, April 17, 2014

GMGM vs. Adam Oates: Who Should Go (First)?

The Washington Capitals management has become a comedy of errors (or really more of a tragedy) in the past few years. There's no secret that major upheaval is completely necessary and on the way.

That being said, what is the bigger priority for the Caps: getting rid of General Manager George McPhee (GMGM) or getting rid of Head Coach Adam Oates (HCAO)?

Don't get me wrong, I would love to see them both go, and I'm sure most of Caps Nations agrees with me. But if, for some reason, Owner Ted Leonsis (no cooky abbreviation for him) decides to keep one of them, who is more important to fire?

Let's look at the track record within the last few years for each, starting with the bad for GMGM:

  • Trading touted prospect Filip Forsberg for minor-league center Michael Latta and aging veteran Martin Erat
  • Trading talented center Mathieu Perreault for a pick and a prospect, both of which were traded away later 
  • Trading talented backup goalie Michal Neuvirth for unnecessary expense Jaroslav Halak, who didn't even help the Caps all that much
  • Signing Brooks Laich and Mike Green to monster contracts that haven't helped at all
  • Signing human traffic cone Jeff Schultz to a big deal before using a compliance buyout last year
Now, let's look at the good stuff he's done:
  • Trading a 4th round pick for tough forward Dustin Penner
  • Signing Mikhail Grabovski for just 3 mil during the offseason
  • Signing top defensemen John Carlson and Karl Alzner to relatively inexpensive deals
Needless to say, GMGM has made some foolish decisions, but has made up for some of it by striking some good deals. Now let's look at HCAO, starting this time with the good:
  • Revamped Alex Ovechkin into a scoring threat and brought him back to being the second-best player in the world
  • Improved the Capitals power play
  • Striking gold with the 'Gang Green' line (Chimera-Fehr-Ward)
And now, the bad:
  • Buried proven Top-6 veterans like Martin Erat and Dustin Penner in the fourth line, or scratched them
  • Held talented prospects Evgeny Kuznetsov and Tom Wilson to very little ice time per game
  • Played ineffective, unproven players such as Jay Beagle, Aaron Volpatti, and Joey Crabb on the top line
  • Continued to call up AHL players until late in the season
  • Failed to help a struggling defense
  • Tried to change the goaltending style, with terrible effects
  • Threw half the team under the bus
So, yeah. Some good stuff, but more than offset by all of the mistakes he's made.

Looking at everything together, both GMGM and HCAO have done some extremely stupid things. However, let's look at this in a different way.

Based on the trades and signings GMGM has done, here are my personal optimized lines:


Schmidt-Oleksy (oh yeah, those two were on the teams, weren't they?)


These lines are much better than the ones HCAO had on the ice during the latter half of the season. In fact, if you stop HCAO benching and disgruntling Martin Erat, add him and Neuvirth back while losing Halak, and you have an extremely talented team that doesn't even need Jay Beagle on the ice. 

And if you take out HCAO's obsession with handedness, the second line can be 
Penner-Grabovski-Erat, and the fourth line can be 
Wilson-Johansson Brouwer. See, we don't even need Jay Beagle or Brooks Laich!

All I'm trying to say is although GMGM made some questionable moves in the last few years, if HCAO had used these assets correctly, this team is much stronger than it seemed last season. Therefore, the highest priority for the Caps should be firing Adam Oates. GMGM should probably go too, but without HCAO's stupid decisions, the Caps would be in the playoffs right now.

What do you think? Who is most important to be fired, GMGM or HCAO? Leave a comment and/or rant and hope for the best!


  1. While I agree that Oates should go, I also think GMGM must go. Sometimes, 17 years is a long time for anyone and it has become stale at this point. Time to get some fresh blood with out of the box thinking. You cannot solve todays problems with yesterdays solutions!

  2. I agree with your conclusions, but I think your analysis is seriously lacking. I can give you many examples.

    Neuvirth was odd-man out in a goaltending jam. While talented, he was the worst of the guys we had at that time. All the goalies were called out by GMGM halfway through the season anyway. When there's a logjam at a position, that means you have assets and trading said assets for something positive in return is good. Trading for Halak was a morale improvement, nothing more. He alone was never going to fix what ailed the Caps all season.

    Another example is that the Caps are a offense with 2 elite players, a bunch of 3rd line guys and a highly touted prospect. They are missing so much offensively that any coach, would have had difficulty.

    But the problems facing this team go much deeper and farther than just bad line combinations or a trade or two. Yes, both GMGM and HCAO should go. However, Leonsis is to blame as well. He has never fired a GM. GMGM has 17 years to mold a team. I will give him and his staff credit for drafting well. Beyond that and bringing in Brian Bellows from Germany in 1998, what he has done is questionable. He created this team based off of a core of 4 players. They are talented, but they are spoiled brats who are missing the point. By the way, I am also in favor of trading Ovechkin and Green. I would keep Backstrom. Anyway, the core players were flawed. And GMGM double-downed every year with them. When the wheels came off the bus in 2010, the signs were all there. Green is a head case and cannot handle the literal pressure he was facing in his own end. Ovechkin this week states that his job is to score goals and nothing else. Those two are not leaders. They are chumps who may win the Cup someday - on another team playing bit parts. GMGM stayed with them and hung by them and it's caused issues time and again.

    And this is why Leonsis is to blame as well. Ovechkin is the face of the franchise and he puts people in the seats. However, if what he stated in 2008 is true and he wants to win championships, then he's gonna have to take a possible hit in the bank account and do what is needed for this team - clear house of problems.

    So, GMGM and HCAO should be fired. Ovi and Green should be traded. Hey, if Gretzky can be traded, so can Ovi. Then I would really evaluate what the team has and what it needs. As I said earlier, the team is chock full of 3rd liners - at best. Trade some. Get draft picks. Clear salary. Make room for young players, Wilson and Kuznetsov and give them playing time.

    But the biggest thing of all, is the belief that the window of opportunity with Ovi and pals is still open. It closed right after the defeat against the Canadiens in 2010. What happens next will be interesting.

    1. The thing about the Gretzky trade, though, is the Oilers were still a contending team without him. They had Kurri, Messier, Tikkanen, Grant Fuhr in goal, and other greats. The Caps without OV is down to Backstrom and maybe Grabovski. And I highly doubt trading OV will bring in future hall of famers.
      Also, calling OV a chump is going too far; you probably remember the Hunter year, when his production was absolutely pathetic. That's because he was played D-first. And although nobody cared about his defensive play, they called him out for his 'pathetic' 38-goal season. I agree he's not the best fit for captain, however.
      I agree with most of what you said, namely Leonsis has not been smart, Green should be traded along with, say, Laich, maybe Brouwer, and some other high-priced players. But trading OV really won't help the team.