Q&A With GM

Before last night’s game between the Caps and Panthers at Verizon Center, Comcast’s Al Koken, the Post’s Tarik El-Bashir and the Times’ Corey Masisak and myself had a chance to discuss the state of the Caps with general manager George McPhee. Here’s what was said:

On the surface, it seems like you got pretty good value for a guy who wasn’t playing much this year. You got a second-round pick. Are you happy with what you got?

“We thought it was real good value for someone that both teams evaluated as a fourth-line player. It only gets more expensive as the year goes on to make trades, so I think Anaheim was aggressive in stepping up with that kind of pick to do it.”

Did this come together pretty quickly?

“No, actually we’ve talked about it for a long time. We knew at the end of camp we had what we thought were some good players in penalty killing roles with some real upside, so that we were going to have to make a move with a player there. And it happened to be Brian.”

You mentioned a couple of weeks ago that it’s been really hard to make trades. Is that the case with this, is that why it took so long?

“Yes. We wanted to give it some time to make sure we evaluated people properly, but during that time we were making calls and it’s really difficult to make a trade in this league now, for a whole host of reasons. It’s tough to make a trade.”

In the not-too-distant past in this league, that was a standard ploy by a general manager. If your team was struggling in November, it’s a great time to make a trade. Even in your time here, trades have been made in November that have had an impact years in. Is it something that needs to be fixed in the league, that that [trading] avenue is not open to you anymore?

“There has been some discussion among managers and I think there will be at the next meeting about being able to pick up some salary on players to make trades easier. That may facilitate more trades, but before I commit to whether I’d want to do that or not, I’d like to hear the arguments from both sides at the meeting. But it’s certainly going to be discussed.”

Last time we spoke it was about the injuries and the tolls they had taken on the team. Now the team is at 100% hopefully for a while here. Is this kind of like the start of a new season for you guys here? Is this a chance to start evaluating everything in a different way?

“Well, it will be interesting to see how it goes. I don’t know if it’s a new season. We need to win a hockey game here and feel better about ourselves. But we’d all like to see what it looks like now that it’s intact.”

When you said you were talking to Anaheim for a while, were you looking for something other than a pick, or were you just waiting to hear pick, player, whatever satisfied your [asking price]?

“We were talking about all kinds of things with a few things with a few teams. But when it comes right down to it, it was really hard for some teams to make a trade. They just couldn’t seem to find a way to do it.”

Now on the flipside, you’ve got their [second-round] pick in 2009, your pick in 2009, you’ve got a bunch of second-round picks for next year. Does that give you more commodity now if you’re looking for a body to go out and [make a trade]?

“If someone’s willing to do that, we’d certainly be interested in talking. But we’ll have to see how it goes. This summer’s draft is supposed to be one heck of a draft, so those picks are valuable. If there is someone out there that can help us and someone wants a second-round pick for him, we’ll talk about it. We talk about a lot of things. But my experience has been the last couple of months, there’s a lot of talk and very little action. This [Sutherby trade] might be the first NHL trade this season.

When you don’t have your envisioned lineup together for the first 17 of 19 games and things are going poorly, how do you evaluate what’s going on? Does it make it more difficult? Do you make allowances?

“I think you still analyze different parts of your team and what you’re doing. How are we defensively, how are we on face-offs, how are we on the PK, how’s the grit, how’s the speed, all of those things. At this point, it’s pretty obvious that we need to score some goals. We’ll see if this guy who is coming back into the lineup can help in that department. [He scored] 38 last year and was in on another [35]. Will that be enough to help some guys that are not scoring get them scoring? Goals seem to bring more goals. A couple guys start scoring and other guys start scoring. We seem to have a lot of guys who are under their performances of the past.”

You seem to be getting chances.

“And that’s always the good news. If you’re not getting chances then there is something wrong. But boy, we’ve had lots of chances. I don’t think there is any doubt about that.”

Where on the scale of George’s panic mode are we right now? Thirteen points in the East really puts you behind the 8-ball. I hate to deal with hypotheticals, but if things continue this way, do you really have to make a drastic move of some sort, some kind of shock therapy?

“You can’t look at it in terms of a panic threshold. I’ve said it before. This is year three of this process of trying to build this team back up. Sometimes you can’t measure it all in wins and losses. Do we have good young players, and are they coming along and are they playing [well]? We could have filled this team with vets and been a better team, but does that help us win a Cup in a couple of years? Probably not. It can be a hard process sometimes and this is one of those periods when it has been difficult, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not going to be a good team, because there are some darned good players in there.

“We’ve got the youngest defense in the league playing, and they’ve been very good. What we need to do is get some more goals.”

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16 Comments on “Q&A With GM”

  1. ns Says:

    “We’ve got the youngest defense in the league playing, and they’ve been very good. What we need to do is get some more goals.”

    umm… is GM watching the same team and games we are????

  2. kimchee Says:

    wow…those questions asked are softer than ones asked at an interview with Bush at Fox News.

    Didn’t any of you guys asked him why he is saying it’s only year three of the process when Ted and Olie already announced the rebuild is over? Did you ask him why bench and trade a former first rounder, assistant captain player who plays with heart who has been an integral part of this rebuilding team, and play in his place a guy who skates like he is in slow motion?????

  3. dumpnchase Says:

    Until the last couple games, the D had played well and the team was on pace to allowing somewhere in the neighborhood of 220 goals on the season. Last season, every team that allowed fewer than 240 goals made the playoffs.

    Sorry the questions weren’t to your specifications. What purpose would your first question serve? Ted and Olie have their opinions and GM has his. As to your second question, coach decides who plays, not the GM. So that one would have been irrelevant.

  4. DMG Says:

    He’s saying it’s year 3 of the process because it’s true. It is not as if 3 years ago the Capitals were on the verge of being Cup contenders and only need a couple good acquisitions to win the thing. They started from scratch and given that it makes sense that you need to look at more than just the win-loss record when you decide whether the GM needs to go.

  5. jm Says:

    Someone should have asked him if he’s proud of what he’s accomplished in the TEN YEARS he’s been here. That would have been embarrassing though..

  6. Steve Says:

    If I’m not mistaken, Mike Vogel is on the Caps payroll – employed by the Capitals. While stopping short of saying that fact has compromised his journalistic integrity, it does appear to have skewed his perception to where he is seeing this glass as not only half full, but a little more than half full.

    There is an old saying, though, that “the proof is in the pudding”, and right now, the pudding says that we’re at 13 points – 2 fewer than the team with the next worst record (Buffalo), with 2 more games played. Given how many of their next 7 games are against divisional opponents, these games will define their season. Should the Caps win 6 of the next 7, they could be right back in the thick of it. Pretty much anything less, and it’s wait til next year. In the last 18 games – even the game they won on Columbus Day against the Islanders – I see absolutely nothing that indicates the Caps, as currently managed, can go on that type of winning streak.

  7. Anthony Says:

    Mike has said before that his is his personal blog to talk about whatever he wants. Reading his story about Dave Fey(sp?), made me think much more that its not “because he is on the caps payroll”, and more for other reasons.

  8. Matt Says:

    “Comcast’s Al Koken, the Post’s Tarik El-Bashir and the Times’ Corey Masisak and myself[Mike Vogel]” thats the collection of people who asked these questions. It doesn’t say who asked what – so to accuse Vogel of doing anything other than passing along an interview would be wrong.

    That said I wonder how different the interview would have been after the game.

  9. Mike Says:

    How long must we deal with this painful begining. Unload Hanlon because there is absolutely no work ethic. If the rebuild is over then we must be in reclamation mode now. The Verizon Center looks as if it is a ghost town and now with chants of fire Hanlon when is the trigger pulled, and Coach Boudreau is brought to right the ship???????

  10. Muddapucker Says:

    My only comment is that people should get off Vogel’s back. If you don’t like his blog read something else. Vogs offers a perspective. Sure, he has to walk a tight line, but give the guy a break. He is a source of information. Combine that with other sources of information and you might have a complete picture.

    Just don’t expect him to sacrifice his livelihood by saying inlfammatory things that please your personal tastes that either: a) he might not agree with or b)might be detrimental to his career.

    The guy is a straight shooter let him do his job and understand his position. He will actually give you insights you might not find elsewhere.

  11. pepper Says:

    First, I love that our favorite team is perhaps the most available to the media, traditional, blogging, or otherwise, in all of the NHL and there is a treasure trove of reading material available on an almost daily basis, of which Vogs is a huge part.

    However, I second Kimchee’s comment (#2) – indeed, where was the question about how Suts fell from a future captain and MVP of the “Young Stars” game to someone “projected” as a 4th line center? The purpose of the question, of course, is to provide further evidence that George isn’t perhaps the best evaluator of talent. Either that, or the man behind the bench isn’t utilizing his full compliment adequately.

    Which leads to the second question, why bench a guy who’s shown a lot of perseverence and passion, especially this season, when the team can’t barely muster 20 minutes a game night of full effort? He wasn’t “projected” to be a part-time fourth liner. He’s in that role because Glen put him there. A team NEEDS a player like that on the actual bench during a game, in the room, and on the ice. So perhaps that’s further evidence that Glen isn’t perhaps the best coach for the talent assembled.

    Sounds like McPhee is content to just stockpile more picks. How can no one call McPhee on this and his backtracking comment that we’re in “year 3” of “this process” when the owner declares that the rebuild is over? Does he say, “well, Ted said that, not me?” Then the organization looks like its not of one mind and philosophy, which is unjustifiable.

    And could George have “filled the team with vets” and would that “help us win a Cup in a couple of years?” Yes, if you fill the holes with the right vets, and, importantly, have a coach to manage them and play them in the right positions, within the right system, to maximum effectiveness. See Carolina.

  12. Well year three of a process is getting pretty frustrating – also why not ask him about the backslide from last year. Not to sound cliche’ but well coached and managed teams find ways to win and drive to do so. This is a talented group of players and we can’t expect to have the entire first roster healthy and in on every game. How about a little sense of urgency GMGM?

  13. bob Says:

    Oh, please. Would GMGM and Glen get a bloody clue, ALREADY! Ted, no more of my money until you are at least .500.

    If you don’t care any more than this, I refuse to pay for any more of this (dirt)!

  14. angstboy Says:

    So, they now have a full line-up.

    Are they a “bad team” yet?

  15. OlieStinks Says:

    No more Hanlon! Woo hoo!

  16. opus Says:


    Enjoyed your appearance on TV last night, you looked and sounded as fed up as the fans. You made a good point of saying Holik just was standing in front of Olie without being touched, and Hossa walked right in without being touched…when is the organization going to realize that firing Hanlon, though it had to be done, wasn’t the main step. The man who brought this “talent” in and made a team of SOFT figure skaters has to go. No GM should get 10 yrs with this record. Can you give me any example of any other organization or business that would put up with this for so long?


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