by Chris Lingebach

WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – As the Capitals prepare to watch the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs from home for the first time in seven seasons, the logical question to ask is if the window for them to win a championship with roster’s current core is closing.

The next logical thing to question, is what the fate of vice president and general manager George McPhee — who has maintained that title for 16 years with the organization — will be.

At the onset of the Capitals six-season playoff stretch in 2007-08, the team’s young core – Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Green – were aged 22, 20 and 22, respectively.

Now, they’re much older – 28, 26, and 28, respectively – and suddenly the window to win a Stanley Cup, or even advance further than the second round of the playoffs, at least appears much smaller.

McPhee, the man who scouted, drafted and signed those players with the vision of what they could contribute to the organization – 264 wins (including 27 in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season), 5 division championships and 1 Presidents’ Trophy – is responsible both for their successes and their shortcomings.

One outside observer who has watched the Capitals current situation unfold from up close and afar, former Caps forward Mike Knuble, tells 106.7 The Fan’s Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier, there’s no way to predict which direction the organization will head, but maybe change is necessary.

Knuble, 41, spent three seasons in Washington (2009-2012), before playing one season with the Flyers and spending the current season as a free agent.

“Certainly, if you went back six years ago, you’d probably predict some bigger and better things, the way things were shaping up, the way things were rolling, the way the guys were getting every year,” Knuble said. “And I’ve learned a lot of times, development does not go how you planned it to go, and you can’t predict how it’s going to go.”

“George is at the end of his contract here, and there could be changes, who knows,” he said. “Maybe that’s what it takes.”

Knuble bucked at the notion though, that the Capitals core is on the downside of their careers.

“I think they’d beg to differ that they’re on the downside of their careers, being in mid- to late-twenties,” he said.

“Obviously nobody’s gonna make a knee-jerk [decision], and George and Ted have always been not knee-jerk guys, and they try to think and be methodical and take emotion out of it, and make sensible hockey decisions. But who knows. Is this a natural breaking point? I don’t know. That’s for them to decide.”

“Besides just a coaching change, besides the odd player, who knows what may happen this year,” he said. “And I’m not saying there’s gonna be a coaching change, but you never know what’s going to happen … how deep it will go.”


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