The underachieving Washington Capitals began making changes at the top Saturday, firing Adam Oates as coach and not renewing the contract of George McPhee, the general manager and a vice president.
The NHL club made the announcements in a statement Saturday morning. The Capitals missed the playoffs for the first time since 2007 despite having the league’s top goal scorer in Alex Ovechkin, who scored 51 times this season.
Oates had one year left on his three-year contract. The Capitals were 38-30-14 this season and went 65-48-17 under Oates in his two seasons.
“This is an important time for our organization, and I feel a change is needed in order to get us back to being a top-echelon team that competes for the Stanley Cup,” majority owner Ted Leonsis said in the statement. “George has been a terrific, longtime executive for our franchise, and I’m grateful for his commitment to the Capitals organization for the past 17 years ....”
“We are also appreciative of Adam’s efforts and thank him for his devotion, work ethic and contributions to the Capitals the past two seasons. He is a smart, tactical coach who improved the performance of several of our players.”
The Capitals, preseason favorites to finish near the top of the Eastern Conference, missed the playoffs, finishing three points behind the Columbus Blue Jackets and Detroit Red Wings for the final two spots.
Since drafting Ovechkin and fellow star Nicklas Backstrom, the Capitals have yet to make it to the conference finals.