The Wilson-Boudreau Conspiracy Theory; Does it Reveal McPhee’s True Intentions?
On May 10, 2002, General Manager George McPhee relieved Ron Wilson from his coaching duties for the Washington Capitals after failing to make it into the postseason for the second time in four years.
Currently, at the start of the 2011 offseason, after yet another disappointing postseason, the fate of Coach Bruce Boudreau, current head coach of the Washington Capitals, is in question.
The stories for both coaches are almost identical. Both coaches enjoyed great success at the beginning of their time in Washington, a Stanley Cup Final appearance in his first season as coach for Wilson and a Division title for the first time in seven years as well as the franchise’s first President’s Trophy for Boudreau in his first and third seasons. However, both coaches had less success in the seasons that followed; Wilson missed the playoffs twice in four seasons and Boudreau lost four straight playoff series to a lower seeded team within the first two rounds. Both coaches also had/have a team with high payed players who were expected to bring success, Jagr for Wilson ($77 million over 7 years) and Ovechkin for Boudreau ($124 million over 13 years). As a result, both Coaches’ jobs were in question. Though, the similarities do not end here.
In an article from the Los Angeles Times detailing the firing of Ron Wilson, the relations between both coach’s situations are startling.
The article reads that Caps owner Ted Leonsis wanted no part in choosing whether or not to fire Wilson, leaving the decision totally under GM George McPhee’s control. Sound familiar? It should. Just this past Tuesday during a radio appearance on Washington’s 106.7 The Fan, Leonsis said it is McPhee’s decision on whether or not to fire Boudreau, just as it was in 2002 when Wilson was fired.
Also in the article from the LA Times, GM George McPhee is quoted saying “I didn’t believe it, that these things had to happen, but I believe it now, that at some point the players need a new message.”
Could the above quote possibly mean that McPhee felt Wilson was capable enough to be a good coach for that Caps, but for some reason he just wasn’t getting it done, thus requiring a new viewpoint from a new coach? If yes, does the first part sound similar to McPhee’s current view on Boudreau, saying that he expects Boudreau to be back next season because he’s a good coach? Further, does the second part also sound like the opinion of others on Boudreau, believing that whether or not Boudreau has the right message or not, its not getting across to the players, thus requiring a new coach?
All of these questions bring us to the final main question, does the story of Ron Wilson reveal what McPhee might do next? If so, what has it revealed?
Has Wilson’s story revealed that McPhee will make the same decision, firing the coach, for the same reasons, the need for a new message/coach?
If not, has the story of Wilson revealed that McPhee has learned from the past that maybe a new coach might not actually help (McPhee had to fire two more coaches, Bruce Cassidy and Glen Hanlon, before he found a consistent winning coach in Boudreau, though lately even this claim could be up for debate), and he will keep Boudreau around for the next season?
Whether or not any of this has any value or is just the result of thinking too much, its at least an interesting comparison as well as an intersting thought to keep in mind for the long offseason ahead where Caps news is few and far from frequent. Make it a good week, all.