BALTIMORE, JUNE 21 -- The Washington Capitals shuffled some personnel today, with Rob Laird taking the place of Doug MacLean as coach of the Baltimore Skipjacks, the team's affiliate in the American Hockey League.
Both Laird and MacLean were assistants with the Capitals under former coach Bryan Murray at the start of last season. Terry Murray had been the Skipjacks' coach before replacing his brother on Jan. 15. While Laird completed the season as Terry Murray's only assistant, MacLean coached the Skipjacks, who reached the semifinals of the AHL playoffs.
MacLean's contract, which will expire June 30, will not be renewed, and he will not return to the organization. Barry Trotz -- who had been the Capitals' chief western scout -- will become Laird's assistant. Washington General Manager David Poile, who announced the changes, said Terry Murray will decide on one or two assistants in the coming weeks.
Laird, 35, came to the Capitals last fall after four years as coach of the International Hockey League's Fort Wayne Komets. The Komets -- an independent team and thus not able to enjoy the benefits of NHL affiliation -- were 194-116-18 under Laird, who twice was named minor league coach of the year.
At Capitals practices, few could match Laird's zest for hard work, either taking sprints with players or working on skills with them after others had departed for the locker room. The zeal may be channeled differently as a head coach, but developing players while winning games is his assignment.
"As a general manager, when I looked at what we needed for Baltimore next year, to be very blunt, we needed a top coach, period," Poile said. "I needed a motivator. I needed a communicator, for sure someone who has a good rapport with young players. I needed a teacher and I needed a disciplinarian. That description and outline fits the new coach of the Baltimore Skipjacks to a T."
With a year of NHL experience under his belt, Laird is looking at this as a career step. "I do have a goal of coaching in the NHL, and this might be the best avenue to achieve that," he said.
Poile said his decision involved a "hard part and an easy part," with the hard part being the severing of the relationship with MacLean, who could not be reached for comment. Poile said they had several meetings.
"Basically," Poile said, "the bottom line and end result of those conversations was that we have mutually agreed that it would be in the best interests of both the Capitals and Doug MacLean that we no longer work together. I would like to thank Doug. He is a fine hockey man and I hope he can continue his hockey career in the future with another organization."