Pierre McGuire isn’t the most popular person among Washington Capitals fans. That probably won’t change anytime soon.
But the NBC analyst spoke highly of the Caps on the network’s 2013 NHL season preview teleconference. He praised coach Adam Oates and much of what general manager George McPhee has been able to do.
“Coaching’s a huge part of what’s going to be right for the Washington Capitals because if you look at their special teams from last year, 18th on the power play and 20th on the penalty kill, with Adam Oates there, they’re going to be a whole lot better on both of those things, especially with a healthy Mike Green on the back end, who was just hobbled with a terrible sports hernia injury last year,” McGuire said. “I think the fact that Alexander Semin’s not there anymore, that’ll alleviate some of the internal tension that was felt in that dressing room because there were a lot of players on that team that thought he was a gross underachiever that didn’t want to compete on a night-to-night basis. He’s no longer there.
“I think that frees up Ovechkin, I think that frees up Nick Backstrom and I think the acquisition of Mike Ribeiro along with Adam Oates will help the special teams, especially the power play.”
McGuire added that the Caps “are going to be a tough, tough team to play against.”
Later, I asked about Washington’s window to win a Stanley Cup for my season preview that you can read here. McGuire’s unedited, full answer is here:
“It’s open. And it’s been open for a while. One of the real exciting things for George McPhee and the Washington Capitals is Braden Holtby and his development in goal, the health of Mike Green. I think the anger level that [Alex] Ovechkin’s going to have to prove a lot of people wrong.
“They’ve got two brilliant, world-class forwards that won’t be with them this year in Evgeny Kuznetsov and Filip Forsberg, who are two of the more talented kids outside of the National Hockey League right now. They’ve done a fantastic job, Ross Mahoney and George McPhee and the entire scouting staff, of evaluating and drafting really good young players.
“So their window’s nowhere near being closed, I can tell you right now, because at key positions they’re really amped up to go a long way, they really are.”