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Is Haviland Capitals' top candidate?


Is Haviland Capitals' top candidate?

Mike Haviland, who won a Stanley Cup as an assistant coach with the Chicago Blackhawks two years ago, has emerged as the most recent, and perhaps leading, candidate for the Capitals vacant head coaching job, has learned.

Haviland, 44, is believed to have interviewed for the job with Capitals general manager George McPhee but has not been offered the job. McPhee is expected to continue to meet with candidates through the NHL draft, which will take place Friday and Saturday in Pittsburgh.

Jon Cooper, who is coming off a Calder Cup victory with the Norfolk Admirals, is expected to meet with McPhee this weekend to discuss the Capitals head coaching vacancy.

Haviland has spent the past three seasons as Joel Quennevilles assistant coach in Chicago, but was fired by the organization on May 8 following the Blackhawks disappointing first-round elimination by the Phoenix Coyotes.

At the time of Havilands firing, Quenneville said there was dysfunction within the teams coaching staff. Haviland has not commented publicly since the firing.

Hes a good guy, a down-to-earth guy, said Capitals right wing Troy Brouwer, a former Blackhawk who played three seasons under Haviland. Hes more of a players coach but has a stern side to him. Hes a guy that everyone I played with respected. He could fit in with the Capitals very nicely.

Haviland, who is from Middletown, N.J., won East Coast Hockey League titles as head coach of the Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies in 2003 and the Trenton Titans in 2005 and was named AHL Coach of the Year in 2007 when he guided the Norfolk Admirals to a 50-win season.

In seven years as a coach in the minor leagues, Havilands teams never missed the playoffs and he posted a winning percentage of .600 or better in six of those seasons. He also aided the development of future NHLers Brent Seabrook, Duncan Keith, Dustin Byfuglien, Dave Bolland, Adam Burish and Brouwer.

Haviland was responsible for the Blackhawks special teams play and defensive schemes and was considered one of the finalists for the Winnipeg Jets head coaching job last summer. Washington would prove to be a better fit, at least logistically, since Havilands wife and three children live year-round in their home in Sea Girt, N.J.

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Newest Caps defenseman Radko Gudas happy for a fresh start in D.C.

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Newest Caps defenseman Radko Gudas happy for a fresh start in D.C.

Radko Gudas was surprised, but also relieved. A different year in Philadelphia, where everything seemed to go wrong for the Flyers, is behind him now. He plays for the Capitals now. 


“I was a little bit shocked to be honest,” Gudas said in a conference call on Tuesday. “But when I heard where I'm going, I was pretty happy that I got traded to a team that's well known for their winning and their will to win every game they play.”


It capped a whirlwind few days for the 29-year-old, a polarizing figure in the sport along the lines of Washington forward Tom Wilson. Gudas has been suspended four times by the NHL Department of Player Safety. To say he plays the game on the edge is an understatement.


“Staying on right line of suspensions: It's always tough lately in the hockey these last few years,” Gudas said. “I worked on it in the summer and I thought I adjusted the game enough to still be able to play physical, just not be a liability out there for my team. It's always something hard to adjust, but we still have to do it. It's our job.”


In the midst of a rough year for Philadelphia that saw a coach firing and a late playoff surge fall short, Gudas took advantage of increased ice time – and cut his penalty minutes to 63 from a high of 116 when he joined the Flyers four years earlier. He will never be a big offensive threat, but he’s figured out how to suppress shots and play a reliable defensive game.


At a friend’s wedding in the Czech Republic on Friday when he got the news, Gudas received messages from his new teammates and wasn’t even sure who, exactly, of the Capitals coaches he spoke with. There was a lot going on. But he’s excited to play “for a well oiled machine” like Washington, which has its 2018 Stanley Cup and has won the Metropolitan Division four years in a row. 


Gudas knows fellow Washington defenseman Michal Kempny, 29, well. The two men were born just three months apart in 1990 and were teammates on the World Juniors under-18 Czech Republic team in 2008. They reconnected in 2017 for the Czech Republics’ entry in the IIHF World Championships. Jakub Vrana, 23, is a third Czech on one of the NHL’s most diverse rosters and played with Gudas at the 2019 World Championships. Kempny was still recovering from a torn hamstring sustained during the regular season. 


That familiarity is nice, but Gudas has been traded before when Tampa Bay sent him to Philadelphia in 2015. You just adjust to the role given with your new team. He’s ready for a fresh start with the Capitals. 


“They’re the winners from last year, they were the contenders this year,” Gudas said. “They always have a good team. They in the playoffs every year all these years. Play my simple game, the guys to know what to expect for me and know I’ll be there for them.”

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Capitals Talk hosts "Capitals On the Clock" special: How to watch, live stream, listen

Capitals Talk hosts "Capitals On the Clock" special: How to watch, live stream, listen

With the NHL Draft just a few days away in Vancouver and after countless mock drafts, NBC Sports Washington will have you covered as the Capitals decide who to take with the 25th overall pick.

As part of NBC Sports Washington's coverage of the NHL Draft, the Capitals Talk Podcast will host 'Capitals On the Clock: Draft Night' on linear television and as a live stream on the NBC Sports MyTeams app.

Capitals Talk will sit down with Rob Carlin, Grant Paulsen, Al Koken, Michael Jenkins, J.J. Regan and Brian McNally to discuss the Capitals the 2019 Draft. They'll be joined by Zack Fisch, Manager of Media Relations & Broadcasting with the Hershey Bears, who will shed light on who's ready to make the jump from the AHL to the NHL.

The live stream will also include an NHL and Capitals Draft trivia segment which fans will be able to play along with.

And if you haven't already downloaded the MyTeams App, you can do so right now, RIGHT HERE.

Capitals Talk Podcast "Capitals on the Clock" Special

When: 8 p.m. Friday June 21

Where: NBC Sports Washington and NBC Sports MyTeams App