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Caps let Oates, McPhee go after missing playoffs

April 26, 2014
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FILE - In this April 11, 2014, file photo, Washington Capitals head coach Adam Oates stands in the bench area in the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Chicago Blackhawks in Washington. Capitals majority owner Ted Leonsis and president Dick Patrick announced Saturday, April 26, 2014, that the Capitals will not renew the contract of vice president and general manager George McPhee and have relieved head coach Oates of his duties. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
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FILE - In this April 11, 2014, file photo, Washington Capitals head coach Adam Oates stands in the bench area in the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Chicago Blackhawks in Washington. Capitals majority owner Ted Leonsis and president Dick Patrick announced Saturday, April 26, 2014, that the Capitals will not renew the contract of vice president and general manager George McPhee and have relieved head coach Oates of his duties. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON (AP) — General manager George McPhee and coach Adam Oates lost their jobs with the Washington Capitals on Saturday after the team failed to make the NHL playoffs for the first time since 2007.

McPhee’s contract was up and the team announced it will not give him a new one after his 17 years as the GM, which included drafting Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom in the first round.

Oates was fired with one season left on his three-year contract. A former star player for the Capitals, he was in his first job as an NHL head coach.

This season, Washington finished with the ninth-most points in the Eastern Conference, one spot out of a playoff berth.

“I feel a change is needed in order to get us back to being a top echelon team that competes for the Stanley Cup,” Capitals owner Ted Leonsis said in a statement.

Ovechkin has won three league MVP awards and again led the NHL in scoring this season with 51 goals, but the Capitals haven’t made it past the second round of the playoffs during the Russian wing’s career.

The Capitals reached the Stanley Cup finals in 1998, McPhee’s first year on the job, and were swept by the Detroit Red Wings. Later, McPhee oversaw a “rebuild” ordered by Leonsis, including releasing top players with big contracts such as Jaromir Jagr.

While McPhee eventually built a young roster filled with offensive stars, he never placed as much emphasis on constructing a rugged, defensive-minded blue line crop. He hired a succession of coaches with zero previous NHL experience running a team, including Glen Hanlon, Bruce Boudreau, Dale Hunter and Oates.

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