The old saying goes that losing games doesn’t cost a coach his job. That happens when a coach loses his team.
That’s the reason Washington Capitals general manager George McPhee gave for firing Bruce Boudreau on Monday and replacing him with Dale Hunter.
“The reason for the change was we weren’t winning, obviously,” McPhee said, just five hours after informing Boudreau of his firing. “This wasn’t a slump. You can ride out slumps. This was simply a case of the players were no longer responding to Bruce. When you see that, as much as you don’t want to make a change, you have to make a change.”
The Caps were 3-7-1 in their past 11 games, but McPhee was not satisfied with the performances out of them, especially last week in losses to the Jets and Maple Leafs. When that kind of listless play returned in losses this past weekend, that cost Boudreau his job.
It was not a move, according to McPhee, that was made because of captain Alex Ovechkin’s struggles.
“I think it’s got everything to do with this team not playing well. Our goalies aren’t stopping pucks. The defense aren’t getting the pucks out. And the forwards aren’t checking and scoring enough,” he said. “It’s our whole team. It’s not an individual. We have a lot of players that aren’t playing the way they’re capable of playing, and that’s why the change is made.”
Losing a locker room is something that’s hard to identify, but it’s something McPhee saw in a team that had Stanley Cup aspirations.
“You don’t want to make these decisions, but when you see what I saw, you have to make the decision. You can’t look the other way,” McPhee said. “And I’ve seen it in a few games recently, enough that I knew the team wasn’t responding. We’ve got their attention now, and hopefully they’ll respond in the right way.”