Photo: BGSU Athletics
There are a ton of storylines heading into the 2018 Stanley Cup Finals. Nate Schmidt facing his former team, an expansion team in the Stanley Cup Final in their first year of existence, and a 43-year franchise looking for their first Stanley Cup title to name a few. Another big storyline lies in the front office between both team’s general managers.
Brian MacLellan and George McPhee have been through a lot together and starting on Monday they’ll be on opposite sides of the suites or in the press box watching the teams they’ve constructed do battle.
Many Capitals fans know that MacLellan was with the Capitals while George McPhee was general manager of the Capitals as a pro scout, a director of player personnel and then assistant general manager for seven seasons working alongside McPhee. Did you know that the duo were college hockey teammates and roommates at Bowling Green State University?
MacLellan was a two-time team captain that began his collegiate career as a forward before finishing as a defenseman. Both players had phenomenal freshmen seasons. McPhee led the team with 88 points, a school record for a freshman, while MacLellan came in second in that mark with 63 points. During their senior year, both earned All-CCHA and All-American first teams. The Falcons finished that season with a 27-13-2 record and won the CCHA regular season title before falling to Notre Dame in the NCAA Tournament semifinals.
Both players graduated together in 1982 before beginning their professional hockey playing careers and ultimately landing post-playing jobs in the front office. 36 years after walking the stage and receiving their undergrad degrees, both will be on opposite ends watching the teams they constructed battle it out for Lord Stanley’s Cup.
“It’s kind of a weird experience. We’ve been texting back-and-fourth about how strange this is… It is kind of awkward,” MacLellan told the media Friday morning at Kettler Capitals Iceplex.
McPhee helped lead the Capitals to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1998 in his first season as general manager. Ironically enough, he returns to the Stanley Cup Finals in his first season as general manager for the Vegas Golden Knights, a team that he built from the ground up.
MacLellan took over the general manager position of the Capitals after McPhee was fired. GMBM constructed some great Capitals teams but after falling short in the infamous “two-year window” over the last two years, he had some tough decisions to make. He could’ve easily done what the Rangers did and have a fire sale to get some assets back, but he believed in the Capitals potential and kept what he could afford while bringing up young players from Hershey and developing them into NHL stars.
While the Capitals got off to a rough start, those decisions made by MacLellan paid off in the end and now the Capitals have a chance to capture their first Stanley Cup. Not many people predicted the Capitals nor the Golden Knights to be competing in the Stanley Cup Finals and it will be an entertaining showdown.
By Michael Marzzacco