Comcast SportsNet analyst Craig Laughlin joined the Sports Junkies on 106.7 The Fan on Tuesday to chat about the Capitals’s hiring of Barry Trotz as coach and promotion of long-time assistant GM Brian MacLellan to general manager.
After Laughlin praised the decision to hire Trotz, the discussion turned to the online criticism of MacLellan by former Caps front office employee Shawn Simpson.
“Let’s first talk about Shawn Simpson,” Laughlin said. “Remember guys, he was replaced by Brian MacLellan, okay, number one. Number two, he hasn’t been in the NHL I think since ’05 or ’04, so probably a little sour grapes. And number three, he’s now a guy for TSN, which, in Canada guys, it’s a big thing to have these type of poppy things come out there, and controversial stuff, because it’s all about hockey in Canada and they want to hear that type of stuff. I think it’s three-fold, but I think it maybe starts with sour grapes the way it ended here in Washington for Shawn and now he’s taking it out on Brian MacLellan.”
After being fired by the Capitals as director of hockey operations in 2004, Simpson, who described MacLellan as lazy in several tweets on Monday night, worked as a professional scout for the Maple Leafs until 2008.
“I’ve known Brian since he played for the Rangers,” Laughlin continued. “I’ve known good friends and teammates of his since he was in Calgary and won the Cup, and all I’ve heard is glowing reviews. Now, hiring him as a GM, I never thought about looking inside the organization. I was always talking [ex-Penguins GM Ray] Shero, I was talking other guys, but when you look at the landscape of the game, there was only one guy that was really stepping up that had that GM job in the past. It could’ve been [ex-Canucks GM Mike] Gillis, it could’ve been Shero. Other than that, they were all assistant GMs. Well [MacLellan's] already been an assistant GM and player personnel guy for 13 years.”
MacLellan certainly has experience, but as someone who has spent the past 13 years assisting ousted GM George McPhee, he doesn’t exactly bring the “fresh set of eyes” that Ted Leonsis mentioned was an important qualification for McPhee’s successor during an interview earlier this month. Still, Laughlin seems to think he was the best choice.
“Remember, he’s a guy that travels around and sees all their prospects in Hershey, he helps with the draft selection,” Laughlin said. “Someone asked me this the other day, well why not hire Shero? Well, you look at his draft record; it was poor compared to the Caps and what Pittsburgh got. You look at the way the Caps have stockpiled some very good players compared to Pittsburgh who are not very good when it comes to drafting.”
It’s better if you don’t look at the Penguins’s playoff record.