As the Capitals enter the free-agency period, they will have to make some tough decisions involving two prominent veterans. With such a small amount of available cap space, the Capitals will probably have to let one of these two players walk, if not both.
The more popular the player, the less popular the move. But the Capitals will make these negotiation processes even more excruciating if they allow communication to break down.
First up: Mike Ribeiro.
It is now painfully clear that the Capitals will not offer him the five-year contract extension he requested, thus allowing him to test the market. This decision did not go over well with Ribeiro's wife and mother of his three school-age children.
She tweeted "there's nothing like being uprooted from your home for a year for absolutely no apparent reason" and that she was "pissed beyond belief," as reported by Greg Wyshynksi of Yahoo! Sports. That controversial tweet has since been deleted, but Ribeiro's wife reaffirmed her stance with another one:
McPhee had another difficult decision to make on Matt Hendricks (pictured). John Feinstein of The Washington Post did an excellent job of summarizing what Hendricks means to the Caps:
The other key player who is certainly gone is forward Matt Hendricks, whose loss will be felt in ways that can’t be measured statistically. Hendricks was one of the team’s true leaders, a guy willing to start a fight to light a fire under his teammates and someone who the other players looked to for leadership in the locker room.
But McPhee's handling of the Hendricks' negotiations reveal a pattern of poor communication. The Capitals did not contact Hendricks or his agent about any possible contract talks since late in the regular season. Hendricks' agent, Michael Wulkan, told Katie Carrera of The Washington Post how this process has affected his client: "I don’t think we were ever close. I think it was disappointing at the beginning and now it’s more excitement. He just wants to feel wanted."
McPhee needs to learn from both of these negotiations to avoid alienating free agents in the future. Otherwise, he may never sign or re-sign another free agent in his tenure with the Washington Capitals.