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Caps search for the right coaching fit

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Cheers and Jeers,Sports,Brian McNally
Capitals general manager George McPhee is keeping his coaching search close to the vest. He won't be pinned down with a timeline, and he won't publicly discuss names of candidates. There is still plenty of work for the organization's hockey operations department to finish over the next three weeks, including the NHL draft where it has two first-round picks, and the opening of NHL free agency on July 1. But he at least expounded on what criteria he's using to evaluate potential candidates.

"It's the question that people often think about: Do you hire the coach to fit your talent? Do you hire a coach whose system you like? It's generally a combination of both things," McPhee said during a news conference at Kettler Iceplex on Thursday. "Who can coach this group of players, and do we like the style of play that this coach likes to use? I think the whole league is obviously trending toward an up-tempo style of play. Everybody wants to do that. But ... it's not necessarily the style of play that's most important."

Washington's offensive chances plummeted last season in Dale Hunter's more conservative system that emphasized blocking shots and counter-attacking. It worked after he took over as coach on Nov. 28 as the Caps reached the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, but also might not have been a perfect fit for the roster.

"We really liked the way that the team competed," McPhee said. "That was something that we've been trying to get to -- to have them compete like that. They were terrific. ... We want to maintain that kind of commitment and play a little more up-tempo."

- Brian McNally

bmcnally@washingtonexaminer.com

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