- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 10, 2011

In the wake of the Washington Capitals being swept out of the playoffs in the second round, fans were angry and upset and wanted change. Owner Ted Leonsis said he understood that.

But as of now, it appears that change won’t include a new general manager, as Leonsis gave George McPhee a vote of confidence Tuesday in a radio appearance. Asked directly if McPhee’s job was safe, Leonsis said, “Yeah,” and repeatedly talked about what “George” had to do this offseason.

Asked about Bruce Boudreau, Leonsis deemed that “George’s call,” and McPhee last week said he anticipated the Caps’ coach would return next season.

Leonsis, appearing on 106.7 The Fan on Tuesday at Verizon Center, cautioned everyone about rash decisions - minutes before calling McPhee safe.

“They’re under contract, and they have my support,” Leonsis said. “But I do think the right way to do things is not make any decisions out of emotion, and making a decision less than a week after you’ve been eliminated and swept out of the playoffs is bad.”

It’s uncertain if official organizational decisions to bring McPhee and Boudreau back have been made, though sources with knowledge of the situation indicated that they had been. Leonsis said that it was McPhee’s call on retaining Boudreau, and there are no indications that McPhee’s stance on the coach would change.

But Leonsis repeated what he wrote on his blog — that time was needed to evaluate the Caps after yet another finish atop the East that didn’t lead to an appearance even in the conference finals.

“I think what we have to do is just be honest with ourselves and take a look at what did we accomplish, what was really good, how did the coaching staff do, how did the players do and kind of let the fog and the pain go,” he said.

The organization is refusing to offer official comment on the job status of team employees, according to multiple spokesmen.

But McPhee said on Thursday that he expects Boudreau to be back.

“He’s a good coach,” McPhee said then. “Someone said he’s not a playoff coach; there’s no difference between a playoff coach and a regular-season coach. You’re either a good coach or you’re not. He’s a good coach.”

Boudreau, by points percentage, is the best regular-season coach in NHL history, going 189-79-39.

That .659 percentage is tops among all coaches with at least 250 games under their belts. He’s 17-20 in the playoffs, and every exit has been to a lower-seeded team.

If the general manager and coach are back, that sits well with players, who widely voiced support - specifically for Boudreau and his staff.

Bruce, I think, is just a wizard,” forward Brooks Laich said. “The guy just walks, talks, breathes hockey. And I’ll guarantee he cares more about this team, about his team, than any other coach in the league.”

Forward Eric Fehr said he didn’t expect front office or coaching changes.

“It’s the players’ job to play the game,” he said Tuesday. “It’s tough to pin [the sweep] on the GM and the coach.”

But as right wing Mike Knuble pointed out last week, changes are likely before the team takes the ice for training camp. With Boudreau and McPhee set to be back, it remains to be seen how extensive those changes will be.



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