If it was up to former NHL head coach and star forward Rick Tocchet to pick the new coach for the Washington Capitals, his choice would be simple. He’d be all about Adam Oates.
Tocchet tells CSNWashington.com’s Chuck Gormley that Oates has that special something other candidates can’t provide behind the bench.
“He’s not a rah-rah guy. He’s not going to stand up and give you a Knute Rockne speech. But he’s a man’s man and a pro. I think he could be a great head coach.
“Let’s put it this way: If I was an owner or a GM I’d find a way to get Adam Oates on my team. In my opinion, 85 percent of the league’s coaches are the same. Adam gives you that extra 15 percent that can put a team over the top.”
Tocchet and Oates were teammates in both Boston and Washington and were on the same coaching staff together in Tampa Bay. To say Tocchet has a good feel for what Oates can do might be an understatement. Oates is believed to be a finalist for the Caps job along with Norfolk Admirals coach Jon Cooper and Blackhawks assistant coach Mike Haviland.
One thing working in Oates’ favor is his history with Caps GM George McPhee as he was running the Caps when Oates called D.C. his home from 1997 to 2001. The Caps are expected to make their coaching choice this week.
Per the Chicago Sun-Times, a league source confirmed that former Blackhawks assistant Mike Haviland has interviewed for Washington’s head coaching position.
Haviland was controversially fired in May after a rumored rift within the Chicago coaching staff. The move was surprising because many viewed Haviland as one of the league’s best assistants — he was a finalist for Winnipeg’s head coaching gig last summer — and he was revered by players.
‘‘Havy was an awesome coach,’’ former ‘Hawk Colin Fraser told the Sun-Times. ‘‘I had him for three years as a head coach in the minors. We got along great. He was my favorite coach.”
It’s unclear who else Caps GM George McPhee has interviewed for the head coaching gig, though it’s not the only position he needs to fill. After stating it was unlikely that assistants Dean Evason and Jim Johnson would return for 2012-13, McPhee saw Evason take the head coaching gig with Nashville’s AHL affiliate in Milwaukee.
The Chicago Blackhawks have come a long way since hiring head coach Joel Quenneville. That fact might not be clearer in the fact that there were murmurs about a potential departure after two “disappointing” first-round exits following the team’s resounding Stanley Cup run in 2010. You can put those rumors to bed, however, as Quenneville told Chris Boden and others “that was never in the cards.”
“I love everything about what we have here,” Quenneville said. “I have two more years left (on my contract) and I’m happy here. Nothing gave me an indication that [a departure] was on the horizon.”
That doesn’t mean that everything will be the same next season, however. The Blackhawks decided to part ways with one assistant (Mike Haviland) and keep Mike Kitchen in the mix. Adam Jahns and others note that Quenneville is very close with Kitchen but Coach Q made two stern claims: this wasn’t a matter of cronyism and he’s calling the shots as far as his assistants go.
On “dysfunction” in the coaching staff: “I knew it could be better but there was dysfunction” and Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman “provided opportunity for change.”
Haviland’s the one out of a job, but Quenneville told the press that much of the failures were on his head.
“I feel like I should be absorbing as much as anybody,” Quenneville said. “I take ownership for what happened this year.”
It’s not surprising that the Blackhawks are sticking with a coach who won them a recent Cup and navigated some choppy post-cap-purge waters, but the calls for his head will get louder if Chicago doesn’t make good on its talented core again. If that happens, he’ll at least go down fighting with “his guys.”