The Washington Capitals have been without a coach for a month since Dale Hunter announced he wasn’t returning, and general manager George McPhee made it clear again Thursday he’s in no rush.
“It’s been narrowed down a little bit. We’ll get there when we get there,” McPhee said. “I don’t anticipate doing anything before the draft.”
McPhee’s 27-minute pre-draft media availability included a variety of topics from impending unrestricted free agents to Evgeny Kuznetsov, but the biggest question facing the organization is who will be the next coach.
The focus now might be on roster moves, though, but this is a more drawn-out process, obviously, than in November when McPhee got Hunter and fired Bruce Boudreau.
“I think you want to make a real thoughtful decision and you have certain things in your mind of what you want in a coach. When you do it in the summer, you just have more time. There’s no need to set an artificial deadline to have it done before the draft or have it done by summer [development] camp,” McPhee said. “The Devils hired a guy in [mid-July] last year and they end up in the finals. I think in terms of housekeeping some people like to get it done before the draft, but I just don’t think it’s that important. What’s important is hiring the right person and really being able to come to your team with a terrific coach and knowing that you’ve really done a real comprehensive job in the summer talking to these people.”
Asked if the next coach needed to have NHL experience either as a head man or an assistant, McPhee said: “Not necessarily. We’re wide-open.”
On assistant coaches Dean Evason and Jim Johnson returning, the Caps’ GM at first said “probably not,” but clarified to “we’ll see.” Both were believed to at least interviewed for the head coaching vacancy.
McPhee said the Cup Final ending did not necessarily open up the pool of candidates, though three names (Adam Oates, Terry Murray and John Stevens) have been speculated as potential options.