Sports. Honestly. Since 2011

The Red District: Capitals Still in Search of New GM, Coach

After firing head coach Adam Oates and choosing not to renew general manager George McPhee’s contract back on April 26, most assumed the Washington Capitals would act swiftly in regards to finding their replacements. It’s now nearing the end of May, and there seems to be an intentional lack of urgency among the organization to do so.

When fans and analysts alike began pooling together their most logical available candidates around the league, a number of recognizable names started to surface.

Capitals GM Candidates

On the general manager front, four individuals have had considerable links to the Capitals over the last few weeks.

Don Sweeney, who has been working with the Boston Bruins organization for the last eight years, has been rumored as a possible interviewee. He was a part of the front office that built the Bruins Stanley Cup champion team in 2011 and played close to 1,120 games in his NHL career.

Another serious contender should be current assistant GM of the Nashville Predators Paul Fenton. Working alongside David Poile for the last eight years has certainly made him more than capable of carrying out the day-to-day operations of an NHL team. Fenton also serves as the general manager of the Milwaukee Admirals of the AHL.

At the top of the Caps’ list has to be recently fired GM of the Pittsburgh Penguins Ray Shero. The 51-year-old put together the cup-winning roster in 2009 and has continuously given his team the best chance at repeated success every year since. The only downside to Shero’s managerial performance is his ability to draft well. Since 2008, the combined number of NHL games his draftees have played comes out to a miniscule 240 when compared to Washington’s former GM George McPhee who has drafted a total of 1,148 man games over the last 6 years [Russian Machine Never Breaks].

The last mentioned candidate who seems to be all but out of the picture entirely at this point is No. 99, Wayne Gretzky. It has been rumored on a constant basis over the last several weeks that the “Great One” has had numerous talks with the Capitals organization about taking on the role of president of hockey operations. However, at this stage in the process, it has been revealed that those talks have been nothing more than casual conversations.

With the 2014 NHL Draft taking place in a mere five weeks time, it’s extremely concerning that majority owner Ted Leonsis and the Capitals have approached this topic so passively.

Capitals Coaching Candidates

Transitioning over to the vacant coaching position, one primary name leads the way.

The most popular choice has undoubtedly been former Nashville Predators head coach Barry Trotz. After manning the team’s bench for the last 15 seasons, it was announced that the organization would not be extending his contract.

Even though Trotz is best known for his defensive-minded system, with the amount of highly offensive talent in Washington, the possibilities would be endless for the Dauphin, Manitoba, native.

Especially taking into consideration the immense struggles that the Caps have faced on the defensive side of the puck over the last few years, Trotz would seem to be the perfect fit.

According to TSN’s hockey insider Darren Dreger, Trotz met with Leonsis and team president Dick Patrick this week in Washington.

Other possible considerations include Penguins assistant coach Jacques Martin as well as head coach Dan Bylsma should he become available in the near future.

While many uncertainties remain regarding the Capitals’ unfilled management positions, one thing is for sure. They cannot afford to wait much longer. Leonsis and Patrick have both expressed their collective desire to have a GM in place prior to hiring a head coach. Unfortunately, they may not have the luxury of doing so as more and more potential names are starting to disappear.

While Washington continues to take the slow approach, other teams around the league are quickly signing candidates and filling their own empty staff positions. Peter Laviolette, who many assumed would be the no-brainer choice as the Caps’ next head coach, was almost immediately locked up in Nashville once they decided to let Trotz go.

If Washington refuses to pursue this issue with great persistence over the next two weeks, they will most likely miss out on even more prime hiring opportunities, and that could very well mean no Barry Trotz behind the team’s bench this upcoming season.


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