The Washington Capitals currently have 19 points for the season. They are fourth in the Southeast Division and 14th in the Eastern Conference.
But why not blame general manager George McPhee for the Capitals' struggles? After all, McPhee is the architect of this team. Perhaps his job security should be in question as a result.
Here are five reasons why George McPhee is on the hot seat with the Washington Capitals.
Capitals defenders, warming up before a game
George McPhee and the Washington Capitals had only 48 games to work with this season.
After Tuesday night's game, they only have 27 games left on the schedule.
But the rest of the NHL is playing a 48-game season, too.
So a short season is no excuse for the Washington Capitals, even if they were to miss the playoffs.
Shortened season or not, it would mark the first time in six seasons in which the Capitals weren't playing after April.
The Young Guns.
The Washington Capitals have a payroll of $64,677,211 according to CapGeek.com.
That adds up to the 10th highest NHL salary cap payroll. Furthermore, the Capitals spend 35 percent of their payroll on three players: The Young Guns of Alex Ovechkin, Nick Backstrom and Mike Green.
This spending strategy severely limits the number and quality of free agents that George McPhee and the Capitals can sign in an attempt to change the fortunes—and culture—of this franchise.
If this team were wildly successful, then this type of unbalanced spending would be acceptable. But the Capitals are struggling. So the man writing the checks is being questioned for his financial decisions.
Former head coach Dale Hunter.
Since November 2011, George McPhee has been a busy man.
First he fired Bruce Boudreau, the fastest coach in NHL history to reach 200 career victories.
Then he hired Capitals legend Dale Hunter, owner of one of only four retired jerseys in franchise history. This was Hunter's first NHL head coaching job.
McPhee then watched as Hunter walked away, even though the Caps were seemingly built for the playoffs under his direction. The Caps' general manager was quickly back to the drawing board.
Then, in a move that was not completely unexpected, McPhee selected New Jersey assistant Adam Oates to fill the position. Like Hunter, Oates was a former Capitals player who had never held an NHL head coaching job before being hired my McPhee.
Some of these coaching decisions have been rather curious. If they had been successful, then no one would have cared. Right now, people care.
Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin.
On the day George McPhee announced Dale Hunter as the new head coach of the Washington Capitals, the Caps GM was asked if Alex Ovechkin would be demoted as the team's captain.
As reported by Stephen Whyno of The Washington Times, McPhee responded by saying "That’s not going to happen."
Now, that begs the question: if replacing players and coaches has not worked, and replacing the captain is not going to happen, then who else can be replaced?
Why, the general manager of course.
The Washington Capitals, after losing the 2010 ECQF to the Montreal Canadiens.
The Washington Capitals have made the Stanley Cup Playoffs every year since the 2007-08 season.
In that period, the Washington Capitals have earned the following seeds in the Eastern Conference bracket:
2009-10: 1st (1st overall)
But despite mostly favorable seeding, the Capitals authored the following postseason results:
2007-08: Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, lost in seven games
2008-09: Eastern Conference Semifinals, lost in seven games
2009-10: Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, lost in seven games
2010-11: Eastern Conference Semifinals, lost in four games
2011-12: Eastern Conference Semifinals: lost in seven games
That's right. No trips to the Stanley Cup Final. Or the Eastern Conference Final, for that matter.
As constructed, the Capitals have not achieved postseason success. Perhaps it's time to fire the architect.