George McPhee on how he learned the Capitals won the 2004 draft lottery and why they chose Alex Ovechkin over Evgeny Malkin

One of the biggest moments in Washington Capitals history was not televised. It happened behind the scenes and over the phone.

George McPhee, former General Manager of Capitals, discovered that the Capitals team had won the 2004 NHL Draft Lottery from Colin Campbell, Senior Vice President and Director of Hockey Operations for the NHL.

The Capitals in the lottery jumped to first place overall despite having the third best odds (14.4 percent).

McVeigh shared the story to Radio Capitals and published it Tuesday by Ben Rabee.

McVeigh said:

I was at the training facility at Piney Orchard. Call Colin Campbell. He didn’t tell me right away but I had a feeling he was calling me for some reason. We were socializing for about five or six minutes. Then he said, “Ah by the way I won the lottery.”

That was a really fun moment because we knew at that point, that the two best players in that draft were elite players. On our list, we had Ovechkin and Malkin there. I called Bruce Mahoney right after the call from Cooley to tell him we won the lottery.

And I said, “What’s your initial impression?”

He said: It must be Ovechkin.

And so we talked about that, discussed it more, and then obviously in a lot of detail in the next three or four weeks because Malkin is a hell of a player. We just thought the combination of goals, physical play and enthusiasm that Ovechkin brings, he had to be the guy.

Although both players were sure of their first Hall of Fame Ballot after their retirement, Nahas Capitals made the right choice. Ovechkin has reinvigorated DC area hockey because of his personality, won the Stanley Cup in 2018, and appears likely to go down as the all-time leading scorer in NHL history. Ovechkin beat Malkin by 336 goals (780 to 444) and has another 264 points (1410 to 1146). Ovechkin is the only player in NHL history to win the Stanley Cup, Conn Smith Cup, Calder Cup, Art Ross Cup, Hart Cup, Ted Lindsay Cup, and Morris Richard Cup.

Banner photo: Chris Gordon/RMNB

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