Kukla's Korner Hockey
In case you haven not been following Twitter, numerous reports state Barry Trotz is getting close as the new head coach of the Washington Capitals.
Pierre LeBrun of ESPN recently reported...
Despite repeated reports linking Wayne Gretzky to Washington, it doesn’t sound as though The Great One and the Capitals are a match at this point. Whether it’s for president of hockey operations or another high-end executive job, at this hour, it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen. Which is too bad, because No. 99 in that kind of role would be a great asset.
But John Feinstein of The Washington Post wants Gretzky in Washington,
The Capitals will be entering their 40th season in the fall. They have never won a Stanley Cup. They can go out and hire a standard-issue general manager and allow him to hire one of the very good coaches currently available. Come September everyone will talk about new beginnings and fresh approaches, and none of it will guarantee the team will be any better than the talented ones that fell short in the playoffs from 2008 to 2013.
But maybe instead Leonsis should think about what Gretzky — again, if he wants to work — can mean to a hockey franchise. Do you think there’s a bright young hockey executive or coach out there who wouldn’t want to work for Gretzky?
Maybe Gretzky would hire Mark Messier as coach. Do you think that would bring some fire to the locker room? Do you think Alex Ovechkin would ignore his back-checking responsibilities with Gretzky in the press box and Messier in the locker room?
There’s also the free agent issue. One of the sillier reasons George McPhee was fired as GM was the bleating of player agents who weren’t allowed in the locker room right after games. How many would voice such complaints to Gretzky’s face?
Do you think free agents will want to play for Gretzky? Do you think the Caps wouldn’t become one of the talked-about franchises in hockey the day Gretzky takes over?
added 4:24pm, View a gif of the injury below...
added 4:33pm, below, video added...
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
... the larger, unanswered question is whether the Caps will stick with a traditional NHL front-office model – McPhee was vice-president and GM for the past 17 years – or switch gears like the Vancouver Canucks and the Toronto Maple Leafs and hire someone as the head of hockey operations to select the new general manager and coach.
If they go that way, there really aren’t a lot of people with superstar ties to the Caps organization, who could theoretically be their Trevor Linden or Joe Sakic - or even Ron Francis, who will be elevated to the Carolina Hurricanes general manager’s job later this week.
You can't imagine Peter Bondra or Olaf Kolzig stepping into that role because realistically, the most identifiable Caps player in history still plays for them today – Alex Ovechkin, the four-time winner of the Rocket Richard trophy as the NHL’s goal-scoring leader.
Some would argue Ovechkin is running the show already, from that dot on the left-wing offensive zone face-off circle where he scores most of his goals, mostly on the power play, but clearly he’s not ready to join the suit-and-tie brigade just yet.
more plus additional hockey topics...
from Chuck Gormley of CSNWashington,
“I’m not the general manager,” Leonsis said. “If a general manager comes [to us] with something, we would listen to the general manager. But I’m not the general manager.”
One player who will most certainly come up during the Capitals’ search for a new general manager is 28-year-old captain Alex Ovechkin, a future Hall of Famer whom by most accounts, is the most dynamic player ever to wear a Capitals jersey....
It is worth noting that beginning July 1, a limited no-trade clause kicks in on Ovechkin’s contract. It stipulates that on that date he can give the Capitals a list of 10 NHL teams to which he will not accept a trade, with Ovechkin holding the right to modify that list every September following the first year.
Would Leonsis grant a new general manager the right to trade one of the greatest goal scorers ever to play in the nation’s capital? That’s a question he will need to answer in the weeks and months ahead.
On Saturday Leonsis made it clear that it was not the opinion of Ovechkin that led to the dismissals of McPhee and Oates, although Ovechkin was one of the players Leonsis requested for an exit interview.
“We’re doing this not for Alex Ovechkin or me,” Leonsis said. “We want to win a Cup because the fan base, the city, the franchise and every person associated deserves that. We’re not making progress toward it and that’s why we’re making these moves.”
from Sally Jenkins of The Washington Post,
Ted Leonsis is finally doing something besides blog. Up to now, the owner of two of the four major pro sports teams in town has been more blustering than active. But Leonsis acted Saturday in making wholesale changes to the Washington Capitals, weary of their plateaued and dispirited play, even though it meant distracting his customers from the Washington Wizards’ clench-fisted performance in the NBA playoffs.
Leonsis has put himself squarely on the spot — and in an interesting way. His decision is counterintuitive, and equally intriguing for the timing and messaging. The Capitals missed the NHL playoffs this season for the first time since 2007. The Wizards hadn’t made the playoffs since 2006. Yet the Caps are the team whose management Leonsis decided to gut, firing coach Adam Oates and refusing to renew the contract of general manager George McPhee. The difference? “Where we are in the plan,” Leonsis said at a late afternoon news conference.
It’s a striking move, and a viscerally assertive from an owner who until now had seemed more interested in his roles as a marketing impresario, venture capitalist, and quirky self-help author with a shrinking waistline and stand-up hair. It’s based on Leonsis’ personal calculation that the two teams are headed in opposite ways — and he’s right.
via the Washington Capitals PR department...
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank Ted Leonsis, Dick Patrick, George McPhee, our coaching staff, the players and everyone involved with the Washington Capitals organization. It was a tremendous honor to coach the Capitals these past two seasons. It is a great franchise with a wonderful fan base that will always be close to my heart. I’m grateful for the opportunity they provided me and wish them nothing but the best in the future.”
Please note that this is the extent of Adam’s statement and he will not be making any additional comments at this time.
from Damien Cox of The Spin,
In Toronto, Brendan Shanahan was brought in as team president, and he's getting a feel for the organization. GM Dave Nonis is trying to get his head around how and why the team collapsed down the stretch and surrendered such horrific shots-against numbers while doing so.
Nonis needs to understand what role Carlyle played in that, and then he'll have to justify his decision to Shanahan.
In Washington, owner Ted Leonsis is probably enjoying the basketball success of his Wizards for a few days and taking his time on figuring out how it all went wrong with his hockey team.
The futures of Oates and GM George McPhee are both up in the air. That, of course, ignores the real issue in D.C., which is the future of the team as long as Alex Ovechkin is the centre piece, both with his massive contract and unwillingness to do much else than put up prodigious goal totals.
You can change the GM and coach. But the bigger question is whether you can ever get anywhere with Alexander the Great.
Finally, in Vancouver there were two moves in the final days of the season, the firing of GM Mike Gillis and the hiring of Trevor Linden as president of hockey ops. Like Shanahan, Linden is sorting through the paperwork, and at this point seems to have decided to focus on hiring a GM, and then letting that person decide Tortorella's future.
from John Feinstein of the Washington Post,
If Leonsis is going to jettison McPhee and Oates — or just McPhee, as seems possible — he should have done it Monday. It isn’t as if he hasn’t had plenty of time to look at his dysfunctional team this season and make decisions about who should — or should not — lead it into the future.
Instead, Leonsis met with McPhee on Monday, slapped a gag order on him, refused to speak to anyone in the media himself and said he might take up to two weeks to decide what to do.
Talk about leaving people twisting in the wind. The Caps haven’t won the Stanley Cup, but McPhee built a team that has sold out virtually every game in Verizon Center the past five seasons. He has earned the right to not be left wondering what his future holds.
But beyond common decency, he and Oates deserve to keep their jobs.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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