The NHL season is just around the corner, and hockey enthusiasts around the world couldn’t be more excited. Capital fans feel a sense of excitement as the 2014-15 season approaches. The Capitals have made major changes after a season where they missed the playoffs, and ended with a 38-30-14 record. Throughout the season, fans and analysts alike were perplexed why Owner Ted Leonsis kept Coach Adam Oates and General Manager George McPhee on board for the entire season. But as the season was slowly coming to an end, as well as hopes of a playoff berth, the fate of both Adam Oates and George McPhee were quite clear, they must be gone.
— On April 26th, 2014, two weeks after the Capitals season came to a sad end both Adam Oates and George McPhee were relived of their duties with the Washington Capitals. George McPhee held the title as GM for the Washington Capitals for an impressive 17 years, the longest tenure for a GM in the NHL. “We were left with the overall impression that the team wasn’t trending toward being able to compete for a Stanley Cup,” Capitals owner Ted Leonsis said in a news conference at the club’s arena. “And that was just a clear signal and why it was time to make those changes.”
Now the hole in the Capitals front office and coaching staff must be filled. An on May 26th, 2014, a month after the firings the Capitals hired former Nashville Predators head coach Barry Trotz to take the reigns, and on the same day Washington announced that Brian MacLellan had been promoted to GM. Barry Trotz brings a defensive coaching style to Washington, which could arguably be Washingtons weakest point. Having coached in Nashville Barry and his team developed a strong hard hitting defensive swagger. A strong reason in the hiring of Trotz.
The Capitals scored big, maybe a little too big, when it came to free agency. Washington signed three key players.
Goalie: Justin Peters. A two year $1.9 million dollar contract
Defensemen: Matt Niskanen. A seven year $40.25 million dollar contract
Defensemen: Brooks Orpik. Five year $27.5 million dollar contract.
And without a doubt the saddest news this offseason comes in the form of a relationship being torn apart. The Russian power couple, Alex Ovechkin and fiance Maria Kirilenko called off their two year engagement.
Maria told R-sport, a news column in Russia, “There are a lot of reasons, but I wouldn’t want to go in detail,” Kirilenko said, as translated by Fedor Fedin from RMNB. “I’ll say just that our relationship is over, but I respect Sasha as a person and an athlete and sincerely wish him athletic success in the future.”
The Capitals had a well rounded draft. They addressed their goalie situation and drafted young offensive talent.
||JAKUB VRANA||L/RW||CZE||5′ 11″||185||SWEDEN||LINKOPING|
||VITEK VANECEK||G||CZE||6′ 0″||180||CZREP-JR.||LIBEREC JR.|
||NATHAN WALKER||L||GBR||6′ 0″||180||AHL||HERSHEY|
||SHANE GERSICH||C/LW||USA||5′ 11″||175||USHL||USA U-18|
||STEVEN SPINNER||R||USA||5′ 11″||196||HIGH-MN||EDEN PRARIE|
||KEVIN ELGESTAL||R||SWE||6′ 1″||176||SWEDEN-JR.||FROLUNDA JR.|
Lastly, it was announced that the Washington Capitals will host the Chicago Blackhawks in this years Bridgestone Winter Classic.
As the players get ready for pre-season to start there are multiple questions for this new team. Will Barry Trotz transform the way Ovechkin plays? Will our defense finally step up? and lastly, can we make the playoffs and be a serious cup contending team?