Friday, November 9, 2007

Some Harsh Words for McPhee, Hanlon

Forbes just put out an article about the business of hockey and the NHL. On the Caps page they had some harsh words for management:

With a great building and one of the most exciting players in the NHL in Alex Ovechkin, the Washington Capitals could be among the elite franchises in the league instead of one of the worst. The Caps are riddled with incompetent management. General Manager George McPhee has been at the helm for 10 years and has never come close to building a championship caliber team and has gotten the Caps to the playoffs only once during the past five seasons. Glen Hanlon has proven himself to be incapable of coaching at the NHL level. It can not be a surprise to owner Ted Leonsis that his team's attendance is near the league bottom.

I don't really know where to begin with how stupid that assessment is. I think most Caps fans know the two things that caused this franchise to crash and burn were the extension to Jagr and the hiring on Bruce Cassidy. I also think most Caps fans are aware that these decisions were made by Leonsis, not McPhee. Now given that Forbes is a financial magazine, not a hockey, magazine so I wouldn't expected them to necessarily have that depth of knowledge, but if you're going to make a statement like that you have to be able to back it up by knowing exactly what you're talking about.

I am have issues with the comment that McPhee "never come close to building a championship caliber team". In 1998, his first year with the team, they went to the Cup finals (yes I know it was Poile's team but the way things are laid out in this article...). In 1999-2000 and 2000-01 the team finished first in their division. If you go back to 2001 after Jagr was acquired people were talking about the Caps being one of the Cup contenders. Now obviously it didn't turn out that way but the team talent was there.

Even if you're going to say McPhee was riding Polie's coattails (which I think is a defensible position) then the accurate statement would be "after initially continuing his predecessor's success McPhee saw his team fall victim to the consequences of an over-involved owner. Since that debacle McPhee has been rebuilding from and bottom up, beginning in an unstable economic environment, and has been unable to turn the Capitals into a playoff team in two seasons". Oh, the ineptitude! How could this man who has had two entire seasons to turn what was only slightly better than an expansion team into a contender and failed to do it still possibly have a job?!

It's gets even worse with the assessment of Hanlon who has apparently proven himself to be a failure in his two and a half seasons. That's just stupid. Now, if you're watching every Caps game this year I'm sure some of Hanlon's lines have had you scratching your head. But if you look at how he's handled this team for the vast majority of the time he's been at the helm I don't think it's fair to say he's "proven himself incapable of coaching at the NHL level" [emphasis mine]. There's no coach, in the history of the game, who could have made the teams the Caps skated out there during their rebuilding competitive.

I think the crown jewel is the assessment that since the team has Ovechkin they should be one of the league's best franchises. Ovechkin is in his third year and was regarded as a phenom going into the draft. That means that within the last couple years the Caps had to have been awful to even get him which means the Caps are only a couple years out of being horrible. Hockey's not the type of sport where one player can turns things around that quickly.

Also they don't have the right logo for the Capitals on their page. If they can't get that right I wonder how much research could have gone into this write up.

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