The Washington Capitals didn’t place a want ad after firing Todd Reirden on Sunday, but general manager Brian MacLellan was very clear about the type of coach they are seeking to replace him.
“I think we need an experienced coach,” MacLellan said. “We have an experienced group. We need someone to come in and push some buttons on some players — some good players. … We’re going try and find the best guy we can. Experience will be a factor. And somebody that can hold people accountable and work within a team concept.”
Reirden did not have NHL coaching experience when the Capitals promoted him from associate to succeed Barry Trotz, who resigned following the 2018 Stanley Cup win. After watching the Capitals finish first in the Metropolitan Division but lose in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs each of the past two seasons, including to Trotz’s New York Islanders in five games this season, MacLellan concluded that a coach with experience is needed to get more out of this group.
During the Alex Ovechkin era, which began when the 34-year-old left wing entered the League in 2005, Trotz, who coached the Nashville Predators for 15 seasons before being fired in 2014, is the only coach with previous NHL experience that Washington has hired.
Here (in alphabetical order) are some available experienced coaches who might interest the Capitals:
Fired by the Toronto Maple Leafs on Nov. 20, 2019, Babcock joined the University of Vermont’s men’s hockey team as a volunteer adviser on July 29 to stay involved. Babcock was 700-418-164 with 19 ties during 17 NHL seasons with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, Detroit Red Wings and Maple Leafs. The 57-year-old won the Stanley Cup with Detroit in 2008 and lost in the Stanley Cup Final with Anaheim in 2003 and Detroit in 2009. His 700 NHL wins are eighth in League history.
Boudreau, who was fired by the Minnesota Wild on Feb. 14, coached the Capitals from 2007-11, going 201-88-40 and getting them to the playoffs for the first time in the Ovechkin era in 2008, when he won the Jack Adams Award as NHL coach of the year. The 65-year-old has coached 13 seasons in the NHL with the Capitals, Anaheim Ducks and Wild, compiling a 567-302-115 record. Despite qualifying for the playoffs 10 times, Boudreau’s teams have advanced beyond the second round once — when Anaheim reached the Western Conference Final in 2015 before losing in seven games to the Chicago Blackhawks.
Bylsma, who will turn 50 on Sept. 19, had a 320-190-55 record during eight NHL seasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Buffalo Sabres. Since being fired by Buffalo in 2017 following two non-playoff seasons, Bylsma has been an assistant with the Red Wings the past two seasons. He spent six seasons as coach of the Penguins, winning the Stanley Cup as a midseason replacement for Michel Therrien in 2009 and the Jack Adams Award in 2011.
Gallant, who turns 57 on Sept. 2, guided the expansion Vegas Golden Knights to the Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural season in 2018 (when they lost the Capitals) and won the Jack Adams Award that season, but was fired Jan. 15 after 2 1/2 seasons as their coach. Over nine NHL seasons with the Columbus Blue Jackets, Florida Panthers and Golden Knights, Gallant was 270-216-51 with four ties and qualified for the playoffs three times.
Laviolette coached the Carolina Hurricanes to the Stanley Cup in 2006 and reached the Stanley Cup Final with the Philadelphia Flyers in 2010 and the Predators in 2017. Laviolette’s 637 wins over 18 NHL seasons (637-425-123 with 25 ties) with the Islanders, Hurricanes, Flyers and Predators are second-most among coaches born in the United States, behind John Tortorella’s 655. The 55-year-old was fired by Nashville on Jan. 6.
An associate with the Montreal Canadiens, Muller filled in admirably for coach Claude Julien, who was sidelined following a heart-stent procedure, for the last five games of a six-game loss to Philadelphia in the Eastern Conference First Round. The 54-year-old might be ready for a second chance as an NHL coach after going 80-80-27 and failing to qualify for the playoffs during a three-season stint with Carolina that ended in 2014.
An assistant with the Dallas Stars, Stevens has coached seven seasons in the NHL with Philadelphia and the Los Angeles Kings, going 171-148-43 before being fired by the Kings 13 games into the 2018-19 season. The 54-year-old coached Philadelphia to the Eastern Conference Final in 2008 before losing to Pittsburgh and qualified for the playoffs two other times — with Philadelphia in 2009 and Los Angeles in 2018.
Yeo joined the Flyers as an assistant this season after being fired by the St. Louis Blues 19 games into 2018-19 and watching them go on to win the Stanley Cup under Craig Berube. The 47-year-old went 246-181-55 with four playoff appearances in eight seasons with Minnesota and St. Louis.