Potential Candidates to Replace Former Capitals Coach Adam OatesPosted on April 26, 2014 by Chris Cerullo
Well, the day has indeed come and Capitals owner Ted Leonsis has relieved both general manager George McPhee and head coach Adam Oates of their duties. Many expected both of these changes and now that the day has actually arrived, it’s time to speculate on their potential replacements. I’m going to focus purely on who might be the next coach here in DC and how the decision might entirely revamp the way hockey is played in the district.
First, I’ll start with the seemingly hot topic free agent coach in Peter Laviolette. Laviolette has 11 years of NHL head coaching experience with two appearances in the Stanley Cup Finals, winning in 2006 with the Hurricanes and losing in 2010 with the Flyers. That 2010 run is especially intriguing as he took a team with Michael Leighton and Brian Boucher splitting time in the net to the finals, while overcoming a 3-0 series deficit (only the 3rd time in NHL history) to the Boston Bruins in the Conference Semifinals. We have seen through HBO’s 24/7 coverage of the Winter Classic that he is a very intense head coach and likes to play a brand of hockey that matches that intensity. The system we played this last season was anything other than intense and I would love to see some fire back in this teams play. I believe he would be one of the candidates that could definitely mesh well with Ovechkin, have respect in the locker room and put an exciting product on the ice at Verizon Center again. He is going to be highly sought after this offseason by multiple teams so we shall see if he lands in DC or not.
The Nashville Predators recently fired my next candidate and his name is Barry Trotz. Trotz has 15 years of experience behind a bench and all of those years came with the Nashville Predators. He has only made it out of the first round of the playoffs twice in seven tries and would be bringing a more defensive system to Washington. If he is hired, then it shows that this organization is fully committed to trying to become a defensive juggernaut and likely means a ton of personnel change will occur this summer. His system would likely not sit well with Ovechkin and the two would probably share a similar relationship to Dale Hunter and Ovechkin during Hunter’s tenure as head coach. If the organization wants to become the LA Kings or New Jersey Devils of the world then I would expect Trotz to be our next head coach. The Caps have an obvious tendency to hire from “within” and if you want to stretch it this far, Trotz has coached the Baltimore Skipjacks and Portland Pirates while they were our AHL affiliates.
Thirdly, I’d like to throw a wild card into the bunch and talk about current Grand Rapids Griffins head coach Jeff Blashill. Blashill is a former assistant to Mike Babcock in Detroit and was named head coach of the Griffins in 2012 where he went on to win the Calder Cup. Babcock has a history of having former assistants do well as NHL head coaches, for example Todd McLellan in San Jose and Paul MacLean in Ottawa. Blashill won AHL coach of the year this past season and was integral in quickly moving along Detroit’s young prospects to the NHL due to their extensive injury problem. He implements a very similar system to the one run with the big club that is very structured and dominates the neutral zone, which is an area the Caps heavily struggled in with Oates. In my opinion, he is the next successful coach to come out of the AHL, but also would be another Caps coach hired with no prior experience and that has failed in the past.
Mike Haviland is another candidate; the current head coach of the Hershey Bears was interviewed for this job before when Hunter decided to go back to London. He was an assistant coach with the Blackhawks from 2008 to 2012 and is a former AHL coach of the year with the Norfolk Admirals. He would be very familiar with a lot of our current personnel but I only see him hired as another placeholder or on an interim basis.
These are just four of the many, many names that could be thrown around in the coming weeks and it should be a very interesting process to watch. Some other names to watch could include Mike Keenan, Guy Boucher and John Stevens. Whoever is hired as the new general manager is obviously going to play a huge role in who becomes the next head coach, so that domino is going to have to fall first.