By Ian Oland
One of the biggest moments in Washington Capitals’ history was not televised. It happened behind the scenes and over the phone.
Former Capitals general manager George McPhee found out the Capitals won the 2004 NHL Draft Lottery from Colin Campbell, the NHL’s then Senior Vice President and Director of Hockey Operations.
The Capitals jumped up in the lottery to the number one overall spot despite only having the third-best odds (14.4 percent).
Yrs ago, before #NHLDraftLottery was a nationally televised event (as it will be tonight), teams were casually informed of the results by phone
From @CapitalsRadio Archives: George McPhee on how #ALLCAPS found out they had won 04 lottery (Ovi) despite owning 3rd best odds- 14.4% pic.twitter.com/69GxCrkQwZ
— Ben Raby (@BenRaby31) May 10, 2022
McPhee shared the story to Capitals Radio and it was published on Tuesday by Ben Raby.
I was at the practice facility at Piney Orchard. Colin Campbell called. He didn’t tell me right away but I had a feeling that he was calling me for a reason. We were talking socially for about five or six minutes. Then he went, ‘Oh by the way you won the lottery.’
So that was a really interesting moment because we knew at that point, the top two guys in that draft were elite players. On our list, we had Ovechkin and Malkin there. I called Ross Mahoney right after the call from Collie to tell him that we won the lottery.
And I said, ‘What’s your initial impression?’
He said, ‘It’s gotta be Ovechkin.’
And so we talked about it, we discussed it more, and then obviously in a lot of detail in the next coming three or four weeks because Malkin is a hell of a player. We just thought the combination of goals and physical play and enthusiasm that Ovechkin brings, he had to be the guy.
Despite both players being sure-fire first-ballot Hall of Famers after they retire, Capitals’ brass made the right choice. Ovechkin has revitalized hockey in the DC area due to his personality, won the Stanley Cup in 2018, and appears likely to go down as the greatest scorer in NHL history. Ovechkin has outscored Malkin by 336 goals (780 to 444) and has 264 more points (1410 to 1146). Ovechkin is the only player in NHL history to win a Stanley Cup, a Conn Smythe Trophy, a Calder Trophy, an Art Ross Trophy, a Hart Trophy, a Ted Lindsay Trophy, and a Maurice Richard Trophy.
Headline photo: Chris Gordon/RMNB
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