Given that a new general manager must also be selected this summer, it’s unclear exactly what type of candidate will be sought as Washington’s fourth coach in four years. But here are some possible candidates among those currently available. Mew possibilities may emerge depending on which coaches are fired elsewhere as the Stanley Cup playoffs progress.
Age: 49 | Home town: Franklin, Mass.
NHL head coaching experience: Spent 12 years and 759 games as a head coach with the Islanders, Hurricanes and Flyers beginning in 2001-02, amassing a 389-282-25-63 regular-season record and reached the playoffs six times in that span. He won the Stanley Cup in 2005-06 with Carolina.
Other coaching experience: Assistant coach with Boston (2000-01), AHL head coach in Providence (1998-99, 1999-00) and ECHL head coach in Wheeling (1997-98).
Laviolette was fired by Philadelphia after the Flyers lost the first three games of the 2013-14 season but still spent time behind the bench. He served as an assistant on the U.S. men’s Olympic team in Sochi this winter and has been named head coach for the U.S. squad that will compete in the world championships in Belarus this May. His NHL teams have played a relentlessly aggressive, heavy forechecking style that – depending on how much change the lineup undergoes – could suit some players already on the roster.
Age: 51 | Home town: Dauphin, Manitoba
NHL head coaching experience: Fifteen years as the only coach in the Nashville Predators’ history, during which he posted a 557-479-60-100 record and reached the playoffs seven times.
Other coaching experience: AHL head coach of the Portland Pirates (1993-94 through 1996-97) and Baltimore Skipjacks (1992-93), assistant coach with the Skipjacks (1990-92) of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League’s Dauphin Kings (1986-87).
The Predators parted ways with Trotz, the longest-tenured coach in the NHL, on April 14 after they failed to reach the postseason for the second straight season, but no one expects the veteran bench boss to be out of work for long. The two-time Jack Adams finalist for NHL coach of the year is widely respected around the league by both management and players for his straightforward communication style and high expectations. His Nashville teams played a stingy, defense-first style and were never known for their offensive prowess. Part of that was certainly attributable to Trotz’s tendencies as coach, but it was also a reflection on the blue-collar and budget-conscious rosters the Predators assembled as they focused on grooming defensemen from the draft to the NHL. He would provide the Capitals with experience behind the bench that the team simply didn’t have during George McPhee’s tenure as GM, if the organization believes he could work with a more offensively talented group of players.
Age: 47 | Home town: Campbellton, New Brunswick
NHL head coaching experience: Four seasons with Philadelphia beginning in 2006-07 during which the Flyers posted a 120-109-34 record, reached the playoffs twice and made an appearance in the Eastern Conference finals in 2008. Also served as interim head coach in Los Angeles, where he is currently an assistant coach, for four games in 2011-12.
Other coaching experience: He is in his fourth year as an assistant coach with the Kings, a tenure that included a Stanley Cup championship in 2012. Six years as an AHL head coach with the Philadelphia Phantoms (2001-06) that included a Calder Cup championship in 2005, two years as assistant AHL coach with the Phantoms (1998-2000).
With the Kings, one of the best possession teams in the league in recent seasons, Stevens has been responsible for helping to guide smothering defensive efforts and a stingy penalty kill. Washington’s play in its own zone and while shorthanded have been two of the most glaring deficiencies the past two seasons. While his defensive mind-set and background would be a shift for the Capitals, it’s one that many believe could be a necessary move.
Age: 42 | Home town: Notre Dame du Lac, Quebec
NHL head coaching experience: Three years with the Tampa Bay Lightning beginning in 2010-11 that included a trip to the Eastern Conference finals in his first season and a 97-79-20 record in the regular season.
Other coaching experience: Currently coaching SC Bern in Switzerland. Previously served as AHL head coach of the Hamilton Bulldogs (2009-10), head coach of the Quebec Major Junior League’s Drummondville Voltigeurs (2006-09) and two years as an assistant in the QMJHL.
Boucher was a highly sought-after candidate in 2010 after being named AHL coach of the year, but still a largely unknown commodity without a lengthy coaching track record. His time with the Lightning offered a glimpse into an unorthodox style of play as Tampa Bay utilized a 1-3-1 system that was the talk of the NHL for a brief time. Boucher was also was lauded for his communication skills. But by the time he was fired in March 2013 with a year remaining on his contract, the Lightning looked disorganized. Unable to find a fit in the NHL, Boucher signed a contract with SC Bern that runs through the 2015-16 season but is believed to have an out clause should an NHL job present itself.
Age: 50 | Home town: Quebec City
NHL head coaching experience: In three years with the Florida Panthers, beginning in 2011-12, Dineen recorded a 56-62-28 regular season record and reached the playoffs in his first season.
Other coaching experience: AHL head coach with the Portland Pirates from 2005-2011.
Since being fired by the Panthers 16 games into this season, Dineen has taken on an increasingly prominent role with Hockey Canada. He coached the Canadian women’s Olympic squad to a gold medal in Sochi, and is coaching the men’s under-18 team at the world championships in Finland. Dineen played 19 seasons and 1,188 games in the NHL, recording 760 points and 2,229 penalty minutes, before stepping behind a bench in the AHL.
Age: 46 | Home town: Middletown, N.J.
NHL head coaching experience: None.
Other coaching experience: Current coach of the Capitals’ AHL affiliate the Hershey Bears, who missed qualifying for the Calder Cup playoffs with a 39-27-5-5 record this season. Coach of the AHL’s Norfolk Admirals (2005-07 and 2012-13) and Rockford IceHogs (2007-08), won a Stanley Cup in 2010 during his four years as an assistant coach with the Chicago Blackhawks (2008-12), three years as an ECHL head coach with Atlantic City (2001-04) and one with Trenton (2004-05).
A finalist for the Capitals’ head coaching job in 2012 when Adam Oates was ultimately selected, Haviland has long sought to take the step behind an NHL bench after a lengthy career in minor leagues. Haviland has a fiery personality but has been praised for his ability to work with players while demanding accountability. His Hershey squad displayed many inconsistency problems this season similar to the Capitals, however, and it’s unclear if he would garner substantial consideration for the vacancy the second time around.
Age: 50 | Home town: St. Paul, Minn.
NHL head coaching experience: None.
Other coaching experience: Current assistant coach with the Nashville Predators, where he spent the 2013-14 season. Head coach of the U.S. world junior championship team in 2013, assistant coach for that squad in 2006-07 and 2010-11. Nine years as coach of Stillwater High School in Minnesota.
One of the best American-born defensemen to play the game, Housley appeared in 1,495 NHL games over 21 seasons with eight teams as a player. He ranks fourth all-time among NHL defensemen in points (1,232). While inexperienced as a professional coach, Housley has ties to the Capitals, having spent two seasons in Washington (1996-98), and does have experience working with young players. Combine that with his personal playing experience and Housley is an interesting possibility, though, Washington may seek a more established voice after each of the last five hires were first-time head coaches.
Age: 42 | Home town: The Pas, Manitoba
NHL head coaching experience: Two years with Dallas (2011-13) during which he recorded a 64-57-9 record. The Stars did not make the playoffs either season.
Other coaching experience: Current assistant coach with the Vancouver Canucks, two years as an AHL head coach with the Texas Stars (2009-11), six years as ECHL head coach with the Las Vegas Wranglers (2003-09).
Gulutzan was fired when the Stars changed general managers in the summer of 2013 with Jim Nill replacing Joe Nieuwendyk but he wasn’t out of work long, as Vancouver hired him as an assistant to John Tortorella even though the two didn’t know each other. Many believe he was in a tough situation with the Stars, who were adrift having missed the playoffs for three seasons prior to his arrival, and see potential for the future. Earlier this season, Tortorella praised Gulutzan’s “fresh ideas” and “unique way of looking at the game” saying that “he’s going to be a star”.