#2 George McPhee
After Poile it would be George McPhee who would take over beginning on June 9, 1997 stretching all the way to April 26, 2014. He helped lead the Caps to their first Stanley Cup Final appearance in 1998. He also helped lead them to their first Presidents’ Trophy with the NHL’s best record in 2009-10. Overall he won one conference title, seven division titles and guided the Caps to 10 playoff appearances.
His biggest challenge came in the 2003-04 season when both him and Capitals owner Ted Leonsis dumped salary and began to focus on a youth movement. It was tough at the time but if it wasn’t for that fire sale or embracing the tank, McPhee wouldn’t have been able to draft Alex Ovechkin at number one overall in 2004.
Three years later, that fire sale would pay off as the Caps would turn their season around from a 6-14-1 record to a Southeast Division championship. It was an unprecedented comeback and helped rejuvenate the fan base as well as turn D.C. into a hockey town.
McPhee wouldn’t win the ultimate prize with the Caps and after the team had a rare playoff miss in 2014, the team elected not to renew his contract. He has since been general manager of the Vegas Golden Knights. Ironically he took them to the Final his first year before falling to the Caps.