Capitals Fire Wilson

Archived from 2001-02 season.

NHL teams

The Washington Capitals fired coach Ron Wilson on Friday, a month after the team failed to make the playoffs.

"At some point, players sort of tune things out," general manager George McPhee said. "And that's why the change was made. ... He's a very good coach. I didn't believe it that these things had to happen, but I believe it now, that at some point the players need a new message."

Wilson took the team to the Stanley Cup finals in his first year in 1998, but the hasn't won a playoff series since.

The Capitals were hurt this season by injuries to several key players, including Jaromir Jagr, but they made a late playoff charge after trading center Adam Oates. McPhee and owner Ted Leonsis said last month that Wilson would be back next season.

But McPhee changed his mind as he reviewed his reports, which included exit interviews with players and input from his staff. He informed Leonsis of his recommendation on a conference call Thursday after returning from the world championships.

"I was surprised given the way we played at the end of the season," Leonsis said, "but not surprised given it's the fifth year and Wilson had had some problems with some of the players."

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