The biggest question hanging over the Capitals following their season-ending 1-0 shootout loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday is what will happen next to an organization facing its first April without a playoff game in seven years.
Will Adam Oates, who has one year remaining on his contract, return as head coach?
Will George McPhee, who is at the end of his contract, walk away after 17 years as general manager?
Those are questions Capitals owner Ted Leonsis will address in the coming days.
Following their season-ending loss to the Lightning, several players, including Alex Ovechkin, said they thought Oates deserves to return as coach of the Capitals.
“I think he has one more year on his contract,” Ovechkin said of Oates. “We’ll see what happens.
“For me and for the team, I don’t know how many times we talk about the changes. It’s not about me or Backy [Nicklas Backstrom] or somebody else. It starts more on top if they want to change who they have to change.
“If they want to talk to me about it I will talk. But I’m not going to say something like, ‘We have to change coach, we have to make trades, or we have to do something with George.
“If it’s going to happen, I’m going to talk to the team. I’m not going to say it to the media. I respect everybody in this organization. They say lots of good things about me and I’m not going to say bad things to their face.”
Back in September Ovechkin talked about the mutual trust between him and his 51-year-old coach. On Sunday night he said that trust remains.
“I trusted him and I still talk to him,” Ovechkin said. “I don’t know if somebody in this locker room feel bad about him, that’s their mind. My mind is we’re still good friends and if something happens I’m always going to ask his advice.”
Asked specifically if he wants Oates back next season, Ovechkin said, “Yeah.”
Capitals right wing Troy Brouwer and Karl Alzner shared similar thoughts about their coach.
“I would go as far as saying that Oatsey is a hockey genius when it comes to the technical side,” Alzner said. “I don’t think anyone thinks the game as good as he does.
“I’m watching the game today and some of the plays we do as D-men that we didn’t do ever, and now we do. It’s amazing. We have tons of confidence in him.”
Said Brouwer: “We like having him as a coach. He’s a great guy. He studies the game well. He gives us everything we can do to give us information to win hockey games and that’s all you can ask for of a coach.”