McPhee: Boudreau's tank was empty

McPhee: Boudreau's tank was empty
November 28, 2011, 1:54 pm
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UPDATED 12:45 P.M.George McPhee says Bruce Boudreaus tank was empty and itwas time for a refill.Saying his slumping team (3-7-1 in its last 11 games) was inneed of a new voice, McPhee fired Boudreau after 21 games on Monday andreplaced him with 51-year-old Dale Hunter, a 19-year NHL veteran who has spentthe past 11 seasons coaching the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League.The reason for the change was we werent winning,obviously, McPhee said. This wasnt a slump. You can ride out slump. This wassimply a case of the players no longer responding to Bruce. I had to make the change.Dale, as we know, is a no-nonsense guy, McPhee added, andhe will push these guys.McPhee said he began thinking about a coaching change duringthe Capitals fourgame losing streak earlier this month and reached out toHunter early last week, before the Capitals three-game homestand.When the Caps followed back-to-back wins with lopsidedlosses to the Rangers and Sabres, McPhee offered Hunter the job and called inBoudreau for a 6:15 a.m. meeting on Monday. Bruce did a terrific job and Im very proud of him and thework he did, McPhee said. But when the players arent responding, you have tomake a change.With a career record of 201-88-40, Boudreau reached 200 winsfaster than any coach in NHL history.McPhee said he did not consult with his players beforemaking the move.Its something you see, he said. To be frank, I donttake that kind of input from players. I never have done that and never will dothat. A management decision was made in conjunction with the ownership.Boudreau had tried almost everything to motivate hisplayers, from benchings and grueling skates to private meetings. Several playersopenly supported Boudreaus tactics, saying they were much needed. But formerplayers, most recently Eric Fehr, wondered if Boudreau could remain steadfastin his demands.I dont think accountability was the real issue here,McPhee said. I think Bruce came in here and emptied the tank. He gave everythinghe could and did a really good job, but the tank was empty. And when thathappens you get a new coach where the tank is full and see if it makes adifference.McPhee said Boudreauwas a class act during their pre-dawn meeting, saying he actually tried tomake him feel better during their conversation.These are always difficult decisions, McPhee said. You dontwant to make these decisions, but when you see what I saw you have to make thesedecisions. You cant look the other way. We got their attention now andhopefully they respond in the right way.