George McPhee (born July 2, 1958, Guelph, Ontario) is the general manager of the National Hockey League's Washington Capitals as well as the team's alternate governor and vice president. His nicknames include "GMGM," short for "General Manager George McPhee," and "The Undertaker" for his play after the whistle.
Prior to his career in management, McPhee was a prominent college hockey player at Bowling Green State University. There he was the recipient of the 1982 Hobey Baker Award (given to college hockey's top player), was chosen as a First-Team All-Central Collegiate Hockey Association selection in 1982, Second-Team All-CCHA honors in 1979 and 1981 and was the CCHA's Rookie of the Year in 1979. After college he had a seven year career in the NHL with the New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers.
In 1992, McPhee landed his first major NHL management position, starting as vice president and director of hockey operations as well as alternate governor for the Vancouver Canucks, assisting then general manager Pat Quinn. With McPhee, the team made the playoffs four times, won a division championship, and played in the 1994 Stanley Cup Finals, which they lost to the New York Rangers.
When McPhee joined the Capitals in 1997, the team was looking to turn around its long storied history of being a regular season juggernaut, only to fold in the playoffs. Things started off great, as McPhee engineered the club's first trip to the Stanley Cup Finals in his first season. The team has played well under the general management of McPhee, having won four Southeast Division championships (1999–00, 2000–01, 2007–08 and 2008–09), had five 40-or-more win seasons (1997–98, 1999–00, 2000–01, 2007–08 and 2008–09) and a franchise record 108-point season (2008–09), yet since McPhee's first year, the team has failed to go beyond the second round of the playoffs.
2003–04 fire saleEdit
Throughout the 2003–04 season, McPhee and Caps owner Ted Leonsis made the decision to scrap the team's current lineup in order to dump salaries and begin a youth movement for the team. Thus, in a large fire sale, Sergei Gonchar, Jaromir Jagr, Peter Bondra, Michael Nylander, Mike Grier, Robert Lang and Steve Konowalchuk were all traded within that season. He began the rebuilding of the team by selecting Russian phenom Alexander Ovechkin with the 1st overall pick in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. Since then, McPhee has cited that he plans to build the Capitals through the entry draft.
The 2007–08 NHL season would prove to be a hopeful one for McPhee, as the Capitals had seemed to turn the corner in their development. With the players they had homegrown in their own farm system blossoming rapidly, as well as other players acquired through trades and free agent signings fitting in comfortably, there was optimism that the Capitals would again be a viable team on the ice. However, after the Capitals started the 2008 season with a 6-14-1 record, McPhee fired Hanlon on November 22 and replaced him with Hershey Bears coach Bruce Boudreau. The coaching shake up worked, and the 2007–08 season would end with an unprecedented comeback and miraculous Southeast Division Championship. McPhee's prowess as a general manager would be verified in the trade deadline pickups of veterans Sergei Fedorov, Matt Cooke and Cristobal Huet, all of which would play a large role in leading the Capitals to their third Southeast Division Championship.