After some soul searching, the Washington Capitals decided to go with a first-time head coach (and one would think, offense-first guy) in Adam Oates. Darren Dreger provides an fascinating wrinkle to that decision-making process, though: the Caps also interviewed “Iron” Mike Keenan before choosing Oates.
Mike Keenan interviewed for head coaching job in Wash. McPhee called to tell him he was out, just before news broke Oates had been hired.
There are so many different things to take from that scenario. The most obvious one is the mind-blowing concept of Keenan working with Alex Ovechkin. Yup, that would have been … interesting.
Regardless of how serious the Capitals really were when interviewing Keenan, it reveals how much of a fork in the road Washington GM George McPhee was at after Dale Hunter left. He could have gone in a similar – possibly more restrictive – direction with Keenan, but instead he opted for a (seemingly) more player-friendly guy in Oates.
That shouldn’t stop you from picturing the hockey “Odd Couple” that would have been Keenan & Ovechkin. How well do you think they could have worked?
Judging by Dale Hunter’s decision to bolt for the London Knights, it doesn’t seem like the Washington Capitals were the ones hoping to make his stay as head coach a short one.* Either way, John Shannon makes an interesting point that Adam Oates received a greater commitment to be the team’s head coach in the form of a three-year contract.
Now, if you’re familiar with the laughable job security that professional sports coaches “enjoy,” you know that a three-year deal won’t necessarily guarantee that Oates will keep his job that whole time. Still, it’s a bigger commitment in that they’d have to pay him for those years – under certain circumstances, anyway.
It’s been a great day for Oates, no doubt, but the stability of getting a three-year contract might be the most underrated part of it. He’ll probably bask in that whole “Hall of Fame” thing a little bit more, though.
* – Or at least Hunter was the most adamant about it being a one-year thing …
Weeks after leaving his post with the Washington Capitals, Dale Hunter is returning to the head coaching ranks.
Just not in the NHL.
The London Free Press reports Hunter will resume bench boss duties with the OHL’s London Knights next season. He’ll replace his brother, Mark, who led the Knights to the Memorial Cup final last season while Dale was off taking the Caps to within a game of the Eastern Conference finals.
While it was somewhat surprising when Hunter abruptly left the Caps on May 14, there was little surprise when he bolted straight back to London. He’s both the co-owner and president of the team and has been named OHL coach of the year three times in his 11 years behind the Knights bench.
Over that time, London’s become a factory for first round NHL draft picks. Rick Nash, Corey Perry, Patrick Kane, Sam Gagner, John Carlson and John Tavares are all products of the Hunter-led Knights.