WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – Ted Leonsis may have remained relatively mum on the future of his head basketball coach and Wizards general manager, but he was far less reserved about why he felt it was time for change in not renewing Capitals GM George McPhee, and firing coach Adam Oates.
Asked by 106.7 The Fan’s Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier Wednesday what led him to the decision to part ways with the two, Leonsis chalked it up to the Capitals needing a “fresh set of eyes and fresh set of voices” after the team failed to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in seven seasons.
“George and I articulated a plan with [team president] Dick Patrick seven years ago,” Leonsis said.
“We’re gonna be bad until we’re good. And we executed a very simple plan: we kept trading veteran players for picks and prospects, and the team wasn’t good for a couple years, and we had this nice run and made the playoffs and we were improving, but we just didn’t have playoff success.
And after we started to not have playoff success, we started to deviate a little bit from the plan — trading young players or picks for veteran players to try and get us over the hump — and last year, it took us a really concerted effort the last month of the season to qualify for the playoffs, and we lost in the first round.
And then this year, we didn’t make the playoffs. And so you come to that realization that our upside is being capped now, and we’re probably better served at bringing in a fresh set of eyes and a fresh set of voices, and empowering a new team, a new group of executives, and listening to them, and listening to what they would do, because all we want to do is win a Stanley Cup.”
Leonsis went on to say he feels terrible for Caps fans that they’re not currently watching playoff hockey.
“Last night probably would have been a Game 7,” he said. “I watched a bunch of Game 7s last night — the San Jose series — and I felt sad that we’re not playing hockey. And one of my big goals is to have all three teams [Capitals, Mystics, Wizards] in the playoffs during the same twelve-month period.”
“We’ve rebuilt the Mystics,” he said. “The Mystics are going to do well, and it’s a young, young team again. Mike Thibault came in and really provided a lot of leadership for us, and I’m thrilled with that, and you just saw what happened with the Wizards, but the Caps didn’t make the playoffs, and if you’re not in the playoffs, you can’t compete for a Stanley Cup. And so that’s why we had to make the moves there.”
On releasing head coach Adam Oates:
“I just thought that we needed different signals,” Leonsis said. “We probably need to go outside of the Caps family, if you will, and bring somebody in who will be unvarnished in their opinions, and it just felt like it was time. We had a good infrastructure and really good people in lots of positions, but sports teams, they end with how you perform under the general manger and the coach, and I just thought a fresh start was needed at this time.”