Today is another day where we speculate and wonder who will be the next Washington Capital’s head coach. It has become habitual for Caps fans to wait, watch, and then be disappointed as their highly skilled and talented team always falls short of expectations. This is a result of a lack of experience, versatility and chemistry from the head coach.
Some people may believe that chemistry is only amongst the players, but I beg to differ.
As a coach, you have to have chemistry with your players. A coach needs to get along with players and staff, adapt and learn from his team, and earn the trust and respect of his players. Eventually, if any of those aren’t met “You’re fired,” as Donald Trump would say. Since their bid to the Finals in 1997-98, the Capitals have had five different head coaches behind their bench; none of who could duplicate the run Ron Wilson accomplished. Here are my choices of who is a good fit for the Capitals and who is capable of leading them to the same fate they had 15 years ago; hopefully achieving even more then that.
10. Jon Cooper– This coach is currently celebrating a Calder Cup championship with the AHL Norfolk Admirals. Cooper, 44, has zero NHL experience and I believe that is crucial for the Caps next coach. In my opinion, Cooper is a spitting image of Bruce Boudreau. Both have won everywhere they’ve been and that didn’t mean a thing once Boudreau hit the “big league.” Cooper is too similar to Boudreau and I am praying he isn’t hired despite learning that George McPhee likes to scoop coaches up from the minors.
9. Mike Keenan– This coach is definitely a household name if you watched the NHL in the 1990’s. Though Keenan has made four appearances to the Finals with three different teams, I think his edgy and stubborn personality would rub a lot of people the wrong way.
8. Ron Wilson– The only coach in Capital’s history who took them the furthest; the Finals. I personally like Wilson because I am a Anaheim Ducks fan who remembers when he coached Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne, but I just can’t see this familiar face being rehired.
7. Marc Crawford– Again, another coach who rings a bell when you think of the Colorado Avalanche or Todd Bertuzzi. Crawford has too much controversy in his past that has left an everlasting impression on people. Not sure the Washington Capitals want to take on his tarnished image. His teams are also known for tuning him out as time passes and in big games. George McPhee needs to stay far, far away from this man.
6. Mike Haviland– Has been the assistant coach alongside Joel Quennville with the Chicago Blackhawks since 2008. I can go either way on this guy. I like what he has done in Chicago with their special teams and defense, but his lack of NHL head coaching experience leaves me skeptical. I do like that he was a part of the Hawks Cup Championship and that he has work with a vast number of young, star players on that team. This is probably the one I’d chose that isn’t a “big namer.”
5. Jacques Martin– Two things come to mind with Martin; calm and collective. You never see the guy having a bad moment. His demeanor, experience and philosophy can be a good fit. Personally, I see Jacques Martin being the quiet guy in Washington D.C. who may actually get the job done.
4. Craig Berube– He is another Capital’s alumni who had a reputation for being physical. Berube was recommended by Dale Hunter to fill the head coaching vacancy. But like Bruce Boudreau, Berube is also very outspoken and may find it hard to bite his tongue. That alone is an automatic disqualification in my book. That personality didn’t work well for Boudreau and it sure as heck won’t work wonders for Berube.
3. Dave Tippett– Tippett is known for molding teams into a defensively sound, unselfish team. While he coached in Dallas, the Stars were a force. That trickled over to to his next team, the Phoenix Coyotes, who have been in the playoffs every year Tippett has stood behind the bench. Leading the Phoenix Coyotes to their first Conference Finals just goes to show you that his philosophy works. Tippett helped put Phoenix on the map and I think Tippett’s style of play is what I would like to see for the Washington Capitals.
2. John Tortorella– I’m one of this guy’s biggest fans. What he did for the city of Tampa Bay and this year for the New York Rangers shouldn’t go unnoticed. Tortorella is the winningest U.S. born coach in NHL history. He too is a bit like Jacques Martin, but I don’t think he is as even-tempered. I love that he is a mixture of calmness and outspokenness, which we saw in this year’s playoff series between the New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins. I admire a coach who stands up for his team, but also gives them room to play.
1. Adam Oates– Got to love “Oatsie.” I had the pleasure of watching him play in Anaheim, almost a decade ago, and I admired his playmaking skills. Oates played under Ron Wilson when the Capitals made it to the Finals and I think being a Capital alumni only works in his favor. For the past two seasons, Oates has been the assistant coach for the New Jersey Devils; who were only two wins away from winning the Stanley Cup this season. Coaches like Oates who aren’t boisterous and who has experience and player intellect are the type of coaches I see Cap players trusting, respecting and going out of their way for.
Though Oates and Tortorella would be my ideal coaches, I’m not getting my hopes up. Frankly, based on his prior hirings, I see George McPhee hiring Mike Haviland, Jon Cooper or, I will throw in the wild card, Jacques Martin. Nonetheless, as long as the Washington Capitals can find and hold on to a quietly proven coach I will be content for the time being.