Hockey Night in Canada

Adam Oates fired as head coach by Capitals after 2 seasons

The Washington Capitals on Saturday made sweeping changes to their bench and front office, firing head coach Adam Oates and opting not to renew the contract of longtime GM George McPhee.

NHL club also won't renew contract of GM George McPhee

Capitals have fired head coach Adam Oates after the NHL club missed the playoffs for the first time since 2007. Washington finished the 2013-14 regular season with a 38-30-14 record for 90 points, three shy of eighth-place Detroit in the Eastern Conference. (Associated Press/File)

The Washington Capitals on Saturday made sweeping changes to their bench and front office, firing head coach Adam Oates and opting not to renew the contract of longtime general manager George McPhee.

Washington missed the playoffs this season for the first time since 2007, finishing ninth in the NHL's Eastern Conference with a 38-30-14 record for 90 points, three shy of eighth-place Detroit.

Oates, 51, was hired to coach the Capitals in June 2012, taking over from Dale Hunter and guiding the club to first place in the Southeast Division and a playoff berth in last year's lockout-shortened season with a 27-18-3 mark.

"We thank Adam for his devotion, worth ethic and contributions to the Capitals the past two seasons," Capitals majority owner Ted Leonsis said in a statement. "He is a smart, tactical coach who improved the performance of several of our players. He is a Hall of Fame player who we believe will be a longtime coach in the NHL.

"This is an important time for our organization, and I feel a change is needed in order to get us back to being a top echelon team that competes for the Stanley Cup."

There was no immediate word on Oates's assistant coaches Calle Johansson and Blaine Forsythe along with head goaltending coach Olaf Kolzig, assistant goalie coach Scott Murray and video coach Brett Leonhardt.

Oates played 19 seasons as a centre in the NHL, including parts of six seasons with the Capitals from 1996-2002. His 290 assists rank 10th in team history.

Before returning to Washington to coach, he spent three seasons as an NHL assistant, first with Tampa Bay before joining the New Jersey Devils, where he helped lead them to the 2012 Cup finals against Los Angeles.

Standout playmaker

Oates played in the NHL from 1985-2004, appearing in 1,337 games while scoring 341 goals with 1,079 assists for Detroit, St. Louis, Boston, Washington, Philadelphia, Anaheim and Edmonton.

Only Wayne Gretzky, Bobby Orr and Mario Lemieux have averaged more assists-per-game than Oates in NHL history, and only Gretzky (662) had more assists than Oates (636) during the 1990s.

McPhee, 55, was the Capitals' GM since the 1997-98 campaign when the Capitals were swept in four games by Detroit in the Stanley Cup finals. They also won the Presidents' Trophy in 2009-10 for the league's best regular-season record.

"George has been a terrific, longtime executive for our franchise," Leonsis said in a statement released by the Capitals. "Under his leadership, the Capitals won seven division titles, twice were the top team in the Eastern Conference, earned a Presidents' Trophy and competed in the playoffs ten times.

"He was a highly effective manager who is extremely well regarded within our organization and around the NHL."

McPhee replaced David Poile (the longtime GM of the Nashville Predators) to become the fifth GM in Capitals' history.

Under the Guelph, Ont., native's watch, Washington reached Round 2 of the playoffs in 2009, 2011 and 2012 but also missed the post-season six times.

Only New Jersey's Lou Lamoriello (1987) and Carolina's Jim Rutherford (1994) have held their GM jobs longer than McPhee, with Rutherford expected to resign after the Hurricanes missed the post-season for a fifth consecutive year.

McPhee was a forward in the NHL during the 1980s with the New York Rangers, New Jersey and Winnipeg. He played college hockey at Bowling Green State University in Ohio and won the 1982 Hobey Baker Award as the NCAA's best player before spending five years as the director of hockey operations for the Vancouver Canucks.

With files from The Canadian Press


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