With Dale Hunter stepping down Monday, the Capitals are again in need of a new head coach. General Manager George McPhee said he plans to take his time with the search, but that doesn’t mean we can’t start speculating. Here are a few possibilities:
Coached the Avs to the Cup in 2000-01; hasn't been behind an NHL bench since the Thrashers fired him after six games in 2007-08. Signed a two-year contract in March of last year with the Swiss league’s ZSC Lions and promptly won the title. “The man wins championships,” former Canucks forward and current ZSC Lions star Jeff Tambellini told ESPN.
Currently working as a scout for Minnesota. Fired as coach of the Penguins in February 2009 with the team struggling to stay in playoff contention less than a year after losing to Detroit in the Cup finals. Doesn’t like when his players play “soff.”
Won a Cup as coach of the Avalanche in 1995-96 with Peter Forsberg and Joe Sakic; fired by Dallas in 2011 after missing the playoffs for two straight seasons.
Led Washington to its only Stanley Cup finals appearance in franchise history. Fired in 2002 by his longtime friend, General Manager George McPhee, despite a winning percentage of .540 and two additional (losing) playoff appearances. Has since coached in San Jose and Toronto, and was behind the bench for Team USA’s silver medal in Vanouver in 2010.
Has been fired twice by Carolina, most recently on Nov. 28, 2011, the same day the Capitals fired Bruce Boudreau.
Won a Cup with the Rangers in 1993-94 and coached both the Flyers (‘87) and Blackhawks (‘92) to the Cup finals. Has made the playoffs only twice since 1996-97, both first-round losses in his most recent coaching stint with Calgary in ‘08 and ’09. Has worked as a Rangers analyst for MSG Network since the Flames fired him in May 2009.
Was behind the bench for Montreal’s stunning seven-game upset of the Presidents’ Trophy winning Caps in the 2009-10 quarterfinals; fired this season with a 13-12-7 record through 32 games.
The AHL coach of the year led the Tampa Bay affiliate Norfolk Admirals on a 28-game winning streak this season; they will face St. John’s in the Eastern Conference finals Thursday. Of course, Caps have hired two straight coaches with no prior NHL coaching experience and haven’t seen much playoff success, so that alone may make him a long shot. (Random fact: Cooper used to be roommates with former Caps PR director Nate Ewell.)
Who are we forgetting? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
More on Dale Hunter:
— Feinstein: Caps have issues to settle
— Ovechkin, Backstrom react
— Boswell reaction: UNBELIEVABLE!
— December 2011: Hunter still has work to do
— March: Hunter tied to hockey fortunes in two cities