With reports of Dale Hunter stepping down in Washington now confirmed, the Capitals will turn their attention to finding a new head coach.
GM George McPhee said the Caps will take their time finding a new bench boss, but also indicated (to the Washington Post) they “might have someone in place at the draft.”
With that in mind, here’s a list of the potential candidates making the rounds…
/cue Caps fans running for nearest cliff
Okay, before everybody goes freaking out, there are two legit reasons why his name is here.
1) Despite the horrendous stint in Toronto, Wilson’s coaching resume is still remarkably strong — over 1400 games and 600 wins.
2) He’s got a history with the organization and McPhee. Wilson took the Caps to three 40-plus win seasons and the Cup finals in 1998; he and McPhee were hired together as coach and GM in 1997.
Of course, McPhee fired Wilson in 2002.
After winning a Swiss league title with the ZSC Lions, Hartley seems poised to make his return to the NHL.
Here’s what Edmonton Oilers GM Steve Tambellini told ESPN (paywall) about Hartley:
“The man wins championships.
“Bob’s daily work ethic is outstanding. He’s the first guy at the rink and he doesn’t leave until 6 or 7 o’clock. The Swiss players had never seen anything like this. They thought he was crazy.”
The feathers in Hartley’s cap? His 2001 Stanley Cup with Colorado and the fact he was the only coach able to get the Atlanta Trahsers into the playoffs, a feat that gets more impressive the more you remember how dysfunctional the organization was.
Washington’s longest-serving assistant, 13-year NHL veteran, sack-grabbing enthusiast (NSFW, language.)
If only because his name comes up whenever there’s a job opening in the NHL. That’s what you get when you win a Stanley Cup, even if it was 16 years ago.
— Since Wilson and Crawford warranted mention (under the NHL’s coach recycling program), might as well throw former Hartford/Toronto/Carolina head coach Paul Maurice in the mix.
— New York Rangers assistant Mike Sullivan is one of the hotter (in a coaching sense, pervs) candidates at the moment and has head man experience from his time in Boston.
— Ex-Chicago assistant Mike Haviland could get a sniff, though I don’t know what (if anything) that questionable ouster did to his reputation.