The longest-tenured coach on Washington’s staff is officially gone.
Dean Evason, a Capitals assistant since 2005, has been hired by the Nashville Predators to coach their AHL affiliate in Milwaukee.
The hire comes just days after Caps GM George McPhee speculated that Evason and fellow assistant Jim Johnson were unlikely to return to Washington for the 2012-13 season.
It remains unclear why the Caps wanted to sever ties with both assistants, though in Evason’s case it might’ve been an opportunity issue. He obviously was out of consideration for the Capitals head coaching gig and, since he’s never held a head coaching position at the professional level, might have figured being the boss at the AHL level was better than being someone’s right-hand man (again) at the NHL level.
As far as stepping stones go, Milwaukee is a good one.
Two ex-coaches since 2003 — Claude Noel and Kirk Muller — are now head coaches at the NHL level with Winnipeg and Carolina, respectively.
It’s no surprise the Nashville organization targeted Evanson to be the next Admirals head coach. Preds GM David Poile drafted Evason in 1982 when Poile was the Caps GM and Evason a scoring sensation with the Kamloops Junior Oilers.
Evason also has a tight relationship with Preds assistant GM Paul Fenton, the man primarily responsible for the hire. The two were teammates together in Hartford during the mid-80s.
Washington Capitals GM George McPhee met with the media today to discuss the future of his club — a future that could be without the services of Dean Evason and Jim Johnson.
McPhee said “probably not” when asked if Caps’ assistant coaches would return for the 2012-13 season. Evason is the longest-tenured coach on Washington’s staff (since 2005) while Johnson joined last year after Dale Hunter replaced Bruce Boudreau as head coach.
While Johnson’s departure wouldn’t be that shocking — he was tied to the Hunter regime, and the Hunter regime is over — seeing Evason go would be a surprise.
He’d been rumored as a candidate for the head coaching gig and has proven to be a versatile assistant, having coached under three different bench bosses (Glen Hanlon, Boudreau, Hunter) since joining Washington’s staff.
Speaking of Washington’s head coaching gig, McPhee said he had no timetable for a hire and stressed he didn’t need anyone in place by the draft or July 1 free agency period. He noted that New Jersey waited until July 19 last year before hiring Peter Deboer, which worked out well for the Devils.
According to TSN’s Darren Dreger, Flyers assistant coach Craig Berube won’t be headed to Washington. Dreger reports Berube was on the Capitals’ list of head coach candidates but that’s no longer the case.
The Caps are looking for someone to help fill the shoes of Dale Hunter who opted to leave Washington after this season rather than stay on board and continue where he left off bringing the team to within a win of the Eastern Conference finals. As for who is on the Capitals list now, speculation is the name of the game.
Caps assistant coach Dean Evason is believed to be in the mix. Paul Maurice was believed to be a man of interest before he headed to the KHL. Devils assistant coach and former Capitals center Adam Oates is another guy rumored to have the Caps’ eye as is Norfolk Admirals coach Jon Cooper.