The Washington Capitals conducted their clearout day and final media availabilities with the players on Monday, following the final day of the regular season, having been bounced unceremoniously from playoff contention with three games remaining on the schedule. None of the questions that were present before the day started had been answered before the day was over.
As in, who will be directing this organization going forward and who will be this team’s coach?
General Manager George McPhee is squarely on the hot seat. Head coach Adam Oates and his coaching staff’s status probably hinges on McPhee’s job security. On Monday, there was no resolution to the situation.
During the day, news that McPhee had met with owner Ted Leonsis and President Dick Patrick surfaced and that McPhee would not meet with the media during the day. But later, while the media was meeting with Mike Green, McPhee surfaced briefly, only to tell the assembled media that he would talk “in a couple of days.” It was a surreal sidebar to an already stressful day.
McPhee had no reason to appear in this instance, with the media already having been informed that he would not speak. Yet, here he was — very briefly — telling the media what we already knew and nothing more.
Never, in his 17 years, had McPhee not addressed the media on clearout day.
Later, when Oates was made available to the media, the head coach indicated that he had not spoken with McPhee or Leonsis yet, and that he did not have any indication of his continuing status with the team. He did indicate that should he be retained, he would return his entire coaching staff. Oates also said that though he had talked to a couple of players individually, he had not met with the team as a group since before Sunday’s finale and did not have formal exit interviews scheduled for any of the players, though he had hopes that would still happen.
“Some of the decisions are above me that have to be told, and I haven’t been told either way,” said Oates.
“I would say that me and my staff, we really enjoy coaching here, love coaching the guys. I feel that we’ve started a little process in terms of what we want from them in terms of how they’ve got to improve. We’ve got to improve,” Oates said. “Of course I want to coach the guys. But whatever happens, whatever’s best for the organization. That’s fine.”
Oates, for his part, answered every question directed his way by the assembled media in earnest. But as with McPhee, he’s twisting in the wind.
While Leonsis and Patrick contemplate the future of the franchise, both McPhee and Oates remain in limbo.
There are many ways this scenario can play out. The most obvious is the team is deliberating whether or not to retain McPhee and they needed some time after Monday’s initial meeting to decide. Another possibility is that McPhee was given the option of whether or not to return and it is he who is undecided. Yet another possibility is that the team has invited McPhee back with conditions — an assistant GM or executive between McPhee and team President Dick Patrick — and McPhee is deciding if that’s a situation he’d find tolerable.
But all of these scenarios are simply conjecture. We don’t know anything, much like how we went in. All that we know is McPhee met with Leonsis and Patrick, there is no resolution, and Oates hasn’t spoken with anyone about anything, including his players.