On Thursday at Kettler Capitals Iceplex, Capitals general manager George McPhee will meet with reporters to discuss the upcoming NHL draft June 22 and 23 in Pittsburgh and provide an update on his search for a new head coach.
McPhee has been tight-lipped about that search, either because it has not yet begun or because it is not yet completed.
The pressing question facing McPhee is whether or not he should go with a coach with NHL experience or one that has proven himself in the minors. According to TSNs Darren Dreger, Flyers assistant coach Craig Berube is no longer in the mix for the Capitals job.
McPhee has hired four head coaches since becoming the Capitals general manager Bruce Cassidy, Glen Hanlon, Bruce Boudreau and Dale Hunter and none had NHL head coaching experience.
Cassidy 47-47-9-7 and Hanlon 78-122-9-30 did not enjoy much success and have not been head coaches in the NHL since. Boudreau 201-88-40 and Hunter 30-23-7 enjoyed success but neither could get the Capitals past the second round of the playoffs.
So where does McPhee go from here? Here are just a few of his options:
Jon Cooper. The 44-year-old former lawyer led the AHL Norfolk Admirals to a four-game sweep over the Toronto Marlies last week and is celebrating the teams first Calder Cup with a parade today.
An up-tempo coach, Cooper led the Admirals, the AHL affiliate of the Tampa Bay Lightning, on an incredible 43-3 tear from Feb. 10 through April 20 that included a record 28-game winning streak. He was recognized as the AHLs 2011-12 coach of the year.
More importantly, Cooper has won everywhere hes coached. After leaving his law practice in 2003 he won titles in the CSHL, NAHL and USHL before leading the Admirals to their first AHL championship in just his second season.
And Alex Ovechkin will like to hear this: Coopers teams play an aggressive, offensive game based on puck possession. In fact, Norfolk led the entire AHL with 273 goals and ranked third in goals allowed with 180. The Admirals also piled up 1,437 penalty minutes, third-most in the AHL.
Cooper is also considered a candidate for the Edmonton Oilers job and could be in line to be an assistant to Tampa head coach Guy Boucher.
For a rather interesting look at Coopers thoughts on winning, check out the promo he did for the Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL.
Others: John Hynes was the AHLs 2011 coach of the year with the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins AHL. Gerard Gallant led the Saint John Sea Dogs of the Quebec League to the Memorial Cup, where they were upset by host Shawinigan.
Marc Crawford. When Paul Maurice decided to take a head coaching job in the KHL last week, Crawford moved up a notch on the list of available coaches with NHL experience.
If McPhee is looking for a straight-talking head coach who has won at the NHL level, Crawford fits the bill. But since winning the Stanley Cup in 1996, the 51-year-old coach has gotten his teams Colorado, Vancouver, Los Angeles, Dallas to the conference finals just once. His teams have also missed the playoffs seven times in his last 11 seasons behind an NHL bench.
Crawford prefers an offensive attack and likes to engage his defensemen offensively, which would appease players like Ovechkin, Mike Green and John Carlson. But he also has a history of driving a wedge between himself and his players and McPhee likely does not have an appetite for that kind of environment.
Others: Terry Murray says he is interested in returning to coaching after compiling a 499-383-29-41 record with Washington, Philadelphia, Florida and Los Angeles. And Tom Renney is believed to be available after going 135-118-30 with the Rangers and Oilers.
The Experienced Assistants
Adam Oates. After two seasons as Peter DeBoers assistant in New Jersey, many believe Oates, 49, is ready to make the jump to the NHL. Oates has been credited for the Devils strong special teams this season and for getting Ilya Kovalchuk to buy into the Devils defense-first philosophy.
Others: John Stevens served as an assistant to Darryl Sutter in Los Angeles this season after guiding the Flyers to a 122-111-34 record in parts of four seasons as a head coach. Current Capitals assistants Dean Evason and Jim Johnson are also possibilities to replace Dale Hunter, but if either was a serious contender he would have been named head coach by now.
So, what are your thoughts? Should the Caps roll the dice on someone like Cooper? Or should they go with a more experienced voice behind the bench?