McPhee: Caps' coaching search progressing

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Loose Pucks,Sports,Brian McNally

Capitals general manager George McPhee confirmed on Thursday that he is in the midst of conducting interviews for the organization’s open head coaching position. But the team still has no timetable for an announcement. McPhee didn’t think it would happen before next week’s NHL draft in Pittsburgh.      

“It's going great. It really is. It's been a real enjoyable process,” McPhee said of his coaching search – just the second time in his 14-year tenure as general manager that he will pick a coach during the summer and not a replacement during the season. “It's a fun process doing it in the summer. Obviously, if you have to do something midseason it's much more difficult. There are fewer people available to talk to so there are some real limitations and some time constraints. When you do it in the summer it becomes a real thoughtful process, real comprehensive. You can talk to a lot of people and come up with a plan for how you're going to do it.”

McPhee said the recent end of the Stanley Cup playoffs was “not necessarily” an indication that the candidate pool had opened up with assistant coaches like New Jersey’s Adam Oates and Los Angeles’ John Stevens now available. Philadelphia Flyers assistant coach Craig Berube told CSN’s Chuck Gormely this week that he thought he was a favorite for the job before being told last month he was already out of the running after an in-person interview. McPhee wasn’t discussing specific candidates on Thursday, however.  

“It's been narrowed down a little bit,” McPhee said. “We'll get there when we get there. I don't anticipate doing anything before the draft. We'll work on that, but we're working on other things as well.”

McPhee did expound on what he’d like from his new coach –to a point. He wasn’t telling when asked if a veteran was the better choice for this particular club or a young, rising star like AHL Norfolk’s Jon Copper, whose team won the Calder Cup Trophy. But it sure sounds like we’re not getting a repeat of Dale Hunter hockey, either.  

“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. “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 as I said when we met right after the playoffs, it's not necessarily the style of play that's most important. If you're the coach, you've got to sell this to the players and have them buy in.”

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Brian McNally

Staff writer - sports
The Washington Examiner