Being a general manager is a tough job. You make all the seemingly right moves during the summer, as Capitals GM George McPhee did last year with the acquisition of playoff-heroes Joel Ward and Troy Brouwer, as well the supposed bargain of the century in Tomas Vokoun, and everyone declares you a god among men. Take Puck Daddy's Ryan Lambert, for example, who praised McPhee in a July 4, 2011 blog post titled, "What We Learned: George McPhee is cold runnin’ the NHL":
Something happened over the weekend that the NHL should really look into: George McPhee started blackmailing everyone to make his team better.There's really no other explanation for the borderline-magical things he did on Friday and Saturday.In short, whatever the Caps' perceived problems were, McPhee addressed them all in two days.
Yeah, about that.
Those were the right moves at the time. Probably no one could have foreseen that Joel Ward would record only 18 points on the third line and Vokoun would get injured, as well as play pretty mediocre. And oh yeah, there was the little matter of their coach getting canned early in the season. The Caps ended up lucky to finish seventh and ended the season with an all-too-familiar second-round exit. Now, McPhee is left to pick up the pieces and wipe away the tears with stacks of hundred-dollar bills.
So allow me to start this commentary on this year's acquisitions with the following disclaimer: All views expressed by me have been formed without the benefit of hindsight and without the expressed written consent of God, who has not seen fit to let us know whether or not the Capitals will ever be a team worth watching after April. They should therefore be taken with a grain of salt the size of...something really large.
That said, here is what we learned this offseason: George McPhee is "cold runnin''" the NHL.
I mean, it's crazy what the Capitals gave up for Mike Ribeiro: Cody Eakin and the 54th pick in the draft. For a bona fide second-line center the Caps have needed for a decade. Booyah.
Then he locked down blue-line extraordinaire Mike Green for three years and shipped out glorified traffic cone Dennis Wideman. Genius.
Meanwhile, he brought in Adam Oates, fresh from coaching the Devils offense to an Eastern Conference title, a couple seasons after turning around the Tampa Bay Lightning's power play in 2008-09 while mentoring goal-scoring madman Steven Stamkos in his breakout year. Rockstar.
And let's not forget the draft, when McPhee practically stole Filip Forsberg at No. 11 and grabbed Tom Wilson shortly after. Master.
Then McPhee did nothing at goalie, because he believes in Michal Neuvirth and Braden Holtby, aka Holtbeast. Soothsayer.
OK, so he let Alexander Semin and Mike Knuble go, leaving some holes at winger. Nobody's perfect. However, everyone knows that Alexander Ovechkin is going to have a bounce-back year, the goaltenders will be as awesome as we hope, Joel Ward will learn to play hockey again and everyone will stay healthy the entire year. All thanks to George McPhee.
In short, whatever the Caps' perceived problems were, McPhee addressed them all in one offseason.
Now don't let us down, reality. Or McPhee will send you to the Blue Jackets for a fifth-rounder and a player to be named later.