Clarity in Simplicity

The second caller into Jonathan Warner’s post-game radio show asked a concise and insightful question. Paraphrasing in my own words, here it is:

The Capitals are in last place. If the Capitals don’t have the personnel to make the playoffs after the extensive Rebuild, then the fault lies with GM George McPhee. If the team does have the personnel but the players aren’t executing, then it’s the fault of the coach. It’s one or the other. Which is it?

Understandably, Warner and guest Ken Sabourin waffled on the answer, since clearly they are not in positions to indict either McPhee or Hanlon. But it is, in my estimation, a valid question. Now the answer may be “both,” of course, but at the least it’s one or the other–and since another fire sale would potentially kill the team’s fans (I know it would shorten my life expectancy), a coaching or general manager change seems to be in the cards.
Glen Hanlon did an admirable job in his first few years. Cleaning up after the roster-gutting and the Butch Cassidy disaster, he forged a hard-working if under-talented team into a tough group. George McPhee has had his share of blunders (e.g., questionable draft picks; Trevor Linden; Robert Lang) and his share of coups (e.g., Oates to Philly for way more than he was worth; Milan Jurcina).
So who, OFB readers, is the source of the team’s current woes: the Coach, the GM, or both?

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19 Responses to Clarity in Simplicity

  1. Capsaholic says:

    Coach, now pass the hemlock.

  2. HotDog88GT says:

    Even the players aren’t buying into Hanlon’s “system”. When the score was 3-1 tonight I knew it the game much over. Ten years of GMGM & Co. should come to an end after tonight’s debacle. Sure, things can get worse but we can take it.

  3. langway says:

    I’m not sure that you can fully turn the page unless you get rid of McPhee as well. If the GM’s position isn’t totally secure then I’m not sure that a new coach would feel all that comfortable upon taking over.
    They’re not going to be able to cut corners or deceive themselves on the path to excellence. They need proven hockey minds making the decisions at GM and coach. I’m all for Pat Quinn coming in and taking over. Give him both jobs and then he can bring in a coach if he wants at some point.
    Who knows what Leonsis will do (if anything) but at this point ‘Change is Coming’ needs to be applied behind the bench and in the front office as well. The status quo is unacceptable.

  4. Smitty says:

    I’d say it’s an even 50/50 split. I have trouble finding good things to say about either of them, other than that they’re nice guys who care about this team and have tried their hardest. Unfortunately, what they actually do is far more important than the above.
    Hanlon held this team together through one of the roughest periods in its history. He helped them keep some semblance of dignity. Unfortunately, he’s not the greatest coach apart from that. When a team that has as much talent on paper as this one does cannot execute on a 5-3 to save their own lives, seems to fall asleep from anywhere between 30 to 55 minutes per game, and has their lines juggled so constantly that it’s no surprise nobody seems to know what they’re supposed to be doing, the man behind the bench is the one that the attention should be focused squarely on. These guys need a motivator – a coach with a big personality who isn’t going to be Mr Nice Guy – someone who will push them when they need pushing and motivate them to hold together when things aren’t going their way. Hanlon is not that guy and it’s time for him to leave while there are still some good memories of gritty, heartfelt hockey from the rebuild years left.
    McPhee is the man responsible for putting these pieces together. It’s not just his players on the ice, it’s his coaching staff behind the bench. His trades have never impressed me, aside from the blockbusters of several years ago (which panned out just great, didn’t they?), but even those were not his decision – he was pushed into them by Leonsis. His draft picks, aside from the no-brainers like AO, Semin, Backstrom, and Alzner have not really panned out at all. His obsession with acquiring fixer-uppers, journeymen, and draft picks as opposed to real and immediate talent has always driven me insane.
    There’s a whole lot of blame to spread between the two of them, and I advocate dropping both of them. If I had to choose, Hanlon should go first, as the effects on the team would be felt far sooner. McPhee shouldn’t be far behind him, though.

  5. MulletMan says:

    after last game, fans in my section were not really happy with me chanting “fire Hanlon”. One before the start of the game tonight said he was still on the fence. After the game he agreed with me, change is a coming.
    IMO, if nothing changes before the next game, all of my chants will be for a total house cleaning. GMGM is now backpeddling and saying we are on schedule for the 5 year rebuilding plan. Does he really think AO (and others) will be around for the rest of this ride? It took the Flyers less then a season to go from last to contention. Does that mean we are looking at a big trade?
    We need change now, Hanlon at least, must go!

  6. James Mirtle says:

    McPhee should have gone before now, but at this point, you really need a candidate you’re confident putting into that position. And since he’s in charge of the coach, the smart money will be on Boudreau coming in as a last-ditch effort to right the ship.
    I didn’t think the Caps were a playoff team this season, but I don’t think anyone thought it’d be this ugly.

  7. VT Caps Fan says:

    Both are to blame. End of story. I seriously don’t know what is taking so long for GMGM to pull the trigger or even more seriously Ted pulling the trigger on both. Get a guy who knows how to do both GM and coach, someone who knows what he’s doing lik Quinn. Damn, give me Melrose or something. This is a load of crap whats happening to this team. As the gentleman 2 rows in front of me said today after our PP failed to get a shot off (let alone control the puck) ‘WE PAY GOOD MONEY FOR THIS *poop*’
    Isn’t there a Murray brother around?

  8. pepper says:

    First, Hanlon. Certainly. Next McPhee, in short order if the right decision isn’t made. And that includes himself as coach.

  9. JR says:

    Hanlon, now. McPhee now only if there is a quality long term candidate available. Otherwise wait until late in the season when a bigger pool of qualified candidates are available. This realy sucks.

  10. HSHS says:

    Both. Great question. Something that you can’t dodge. Maybe you are imune to that question if you are in the Chad state. When will he come back and address this issue instead of crying himself to sleep at 4:30 am???

  11. HSHS says:

    I would add that leaving both of them in these positions does great disservice the the job they did up to this point. They longer they last the worse their legacy

  12. Scai says:

    If McPhee doesn’t have the guts to let Hanlon go, then he needs to be fired first. Now. Otherwise I’d say give Boudreau the rest of the season (he’s sure earned his shot), see what he does with this GMGM assembled team and assess coaching and management in the offseason.
    I don’t think it’s necessarily all Hanlon’s fault that the ship has sunk so deep but it’s obvious that he isn’t going to pull it back up. So he needs to go.

  13. Meza44 says:

    I just can’t watch anymore. After the first goal is scored against us I change the channel. It is painful watching this team self destruct. There is no other option now, but to change the head coach. I am still on the fence with GMGM. I think he is a good GM but I think he has lost his way. I think spending a little more cash to get a few more scorers would help.
    Please send Schultz to the AHL he has been horrific. Flash has no Flash either. Pothier needs to sit a game.

  14. HotDog88GT says:

    Boudreau? Hmmmmm. Didn’t Hanlon “earn his shot”, too, back in 2003 (110-94-29 in three seasons)? Get an NHL-caliber coach in there. The Caps have gone too long without one.

  15. pgreene says:

    boudreau is a fine coach, but i agree we need a proven nhl talent. at this point, i think we need a ball-busting hard ass, because clearly this team is not capable of independently motivating itself and the huggy stuff just isn’t working.

  16. Danderoo says:

    If today weren’t Thanksgiving we would already have a new coach. Hanlon has lost the team. They just don’t respond.We have way too much talent to play like this. In the Langway years, the game before Thanksgiving would sell out. We are already an afterthought on the sports pages. We have no idea what to do on the PP. Atlanta’s talent is not that much better yet they seemed they had a plan. To keep the few fans we have still coming and to give us a chance to salvage the season, a change will be made within 72 hours.

  17. CntrIce says:

    Ok, here’s my two cents… I’m always willing to give the coach the benefit of the doubt. But, things are getting out of hand. From what I’ve seen, this is a coaching problem not a GM problem, yet. Glen Hanlon did a fantastic job the last couple of years, but its clearly time for a change. Personally, I think Bruce Boudreau is more valuable to the Caps in Hershey, especially with Alzner, Bouchard, and Perreault turning pro next year. My choice for a new coach is Bengt Gustafsson. You guys haven’t talked about him much. But, it looks to me like he is a good coach. I just don’t know how you’re going to get him out of Sweden.

  18. Gustafsson says:

    We have had some internal discussions on possible replacements and agree with you that Gus would be a fine choice as a possible replacement.

  19. spiker97 says:

    Sorry, but it should have been both. This has gone on way too long, and while there is still hope for this season, obviously the rebuilding has not worked as well as it could have. Both would have been much better, and I think it is also a sign of things to come that McPhee didn’t step behind the bench.
    Boudreau is probably stuck as coach for a while now, but there are also other good candidates available. Somebody like a Kevin Constantine type coach would do wonders, but before you get that far, McPhee needs to move on also. I’m not really sure if Gustafsson would want to come back over here at this point.
    The fans have spoken! Now, how about Mark Messier as a GM Candidate?

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