Hanlon Out as Caps' Coach

Capitals veteran goaltender Olie Kolzig said Glen Hanlon, above, paid the price for his players' failures.
Capitals veteran goaltender Olie Kolzig said Glen Hanlon, above, paid the price for his players' failures. (Haraz N. Ghanbari - AP Photo)
By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, November 23, 2007

The Washington Capitals fired Coach Glen Hanlon yesterday morning, hours after being routed at home by the Atlanta Thrashers and 21 games into a season in which the team has fallen well short of expectations.

Hanlon, who had been behind the bench since December 2003, will be replaced on an interim basis by Bruce Boudreau, former coach of the Capitals' American Hockey League affiliate in Hershey, Pa. He'll make his NHL coaching debut this afternoon in Philadelphia.

General Manager George McPhee said he first became concerned about Hanlon's ability to lead the Capitals out of their tailspin during the second period of Monday's 4-3 home loss to the Florida Panthers. Those concerns were confirmed during Wednesday night's dismal performance, a 5-1 throttling at hands of the Thrashers that elicited boos and chants of "Fire Hanlon" from the fans at Verizon Center. The defeat was Washington's fifth in a row and ninth in 10 games, and dealt crushing blows to the players' confidence and the team's playoff hopes. Washington has the NHL's worst record at 6-14-1.

"For the most part this year, I thought we were a team that played hard but wasn't getting rewarded," McPhee said. "But the last few games, it looked like we had lost the team, and you can't ignore that."

"He knew as soon as he saw me this morning," McPhee added, referring to Hanlon. "He said, 'I wouldn't have known what to do today.' "

Veteran goaltender Olie Kolzig said Hanlon paid the price for his players' failures.

"We had a meeting about all the mistakes we made against Florida the other day," Kolzig said. "It was pretty evident what we were doing wrong, and we went right back out in the second period [Wednesday] and did the exact the same thing. That has nothing to do with coaching, and has everything to do with individuals not listening and being on their own program."

McPhee called Boudreau around 7 a.m., and within a few minutes he was in his car, en route to Arlington from his home in Hershey. He was on the ice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex for practice a few hours later.

"It's a new voice," said Boudreau, a 52-year-old Toronto native. "I'm fairly demanding. I may smile and joke with them, but if they don't do what's needed and what's necessary, they are going to have to pay the price. From the top player to the bottom player, you've got to be accountable."

Boudreau led the Bears to back-to-back championship-round appearances in the AHL, winning the Calder Cup in 2005-06 and falling in the finals last season. He coached nine seasons in the AHL and played parts of eight NHL seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Chicago Blackhawks, recording 70 points in 141 games as a forward.

McPhee said no timetable has been set for naming a permanent replacement for Hanlon.

Hanlon, meantime, leaves after eight-plus seasons in the organization and with a record of 78-123-9-29, accumulated during parts of four seasons as the Capitals' head coach. His assistants, Jay Leach and Dean Evason, have been retained.

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