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STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS | NHL NOTES

Capitals Miss the Playoffs, so GM Poile Pays the Price

May 13, 1997|From Associated Press

The Washington Capitals fired David Poile as general manager on Monday, one month after the team missed the playoffs for the only time during his 15 years on the job.

"It is time for a new guiding hand for the Washington Capitals," owner Abe Pollin said. "Our team is prepared to move into a new era, and I feel that it is time to make a change."

Poile's contract expired after this season, and the Capitals chose to make a fresh start as they prepare to head to downtown Washington to play in the new MCI Center next season.

"It's certainly a surprise and a shock, something I hoped would never happen," Poile said. "I bleed Capitals' colors. . . . Although I'll try to get another job in hockey, I know I'll be cheering for the Capitals."

Washington went 594-454-132 under Poile, who was named general manager on Aug. 30, 1982. But in the playoffs, it reached the division finals only once and was knocked out in the first round eight times.

The Capitals staggered to a 33-40-9 finish this season.

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In a league in which goaltender excellence seemingly is based on a goals-against average around 2.00, New York Rangers' goaltender Mike Richter had a series worthy of greatness when the Rangers eliminated the New Jersey Devils in five games in their Eastern Conference semifinal.

New Jersey was shut out twice and scored only five goals, with one going into an empty net. Richter stopped 178 of 182 shots for a incredible .978 save percentage. His goals-against average was 0.77.

"I don't know if I'll even see another goaltender play like that against me in my whole career," Devil goalie Martin Brodeur said. "I saw him do it against Canada [in the World Cup in September]. He was unbelievable for three games and he did it for five this time around."

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