In case you missed it, the Washington Capitals have decided to fire head coach Adam Oates and general manager/vice president George McPhee. Owner Ted Leonsis has the opportunity to change the future of the Washington Capitals. Whether that change is good or bad depends on who he hires to replace Oates and McPhee.
Ryan Martin– Martin is currently the Assistant General Manager of Hockey Administration for the Detroit Red Wings. The Red Wings have been good for as long as I can remember. They hire the right guys for their front office and their front office, more often than not, sign the right players. He’s a bit of a risky choice because he is relatively inexperienced, but he could obviously represent a long-term solution. He’s probably not a smart choice for the joint GM/VP of job that McPhee held due to his inexperience, but in a front office system where he’d just be the GM and not be in charge of the direction of the franchise (which is what a president of hockey operations is typically responsible for), he might be a good fit.
Jim Benning– Benning is currently the Assistant General Manager of the Boston Bruins. He specializes in player evaluation, trades and free agent signings. He’d obviously be great in a GM role as well, but I question if he’d be a good Vice President. He has no experience in that sort of role. He is highly respected around the league and was a finalist for the Buffalo Sabres opening at General Manager. The Bruins have an excellent franchise, and everything I’ve heard suggests that Benning is a big reason why. Not to mention I’m a huge fan of the Bruins style of play that revolves around two-way hockey, puck possession, and an aggressive defense that gets the puck back quickly.
Julien Brisebois– Brisebois currently serves as the Assistant General Manager for the Tampa Bay Lightning. He also serves as the GM of the Syracuse Crunch, the Lightning’s AHL team. He has also served as the VP of Hockey Operations with the Montreal Canadiens. He’s been an important cog in the rebuilding of the Lightning franchise and Steve Yzerman, the General Manager of the Lightning, speaks very highly of him. His experience as an Assistant General Manager and as a VP of Hockey Operations makes him an obvious candidate for the Washington Capitals’ vacant GM/VP job. He has also had a lot of success as a GM in the AHL.
Plenty of other names will be thrown around, but almost all of them are still in the playoffs, so they aren’t worth mentioning at this point.
What I hope happens:
Vice President- Julien Brisebois. Very bright and relatively young (37 years old). I’d hope for Dave McNabb, but I highly doubt he leaves his ideal situation in Anaheim. Brisebois is the next best candidate.
General Manager- Jim Benning. Good front offices are full of smart people who surround themselves with smart people. Benning is smart. Separating the VP and GM roles will help the front office immensely. The GM and VP would have more clearly defined roles and the conflicts of interest that I’m sure McPhee felt at times serving in both roles would not exist. The VP should be in charge of the direction of the club and oversee everything. The GM should focus more on the day-to-day operations and make sure that the head coach has the players on the NHL roster who he wants on the NHL roster. Rarely do you find guys who are capable of handling both roles.
Assistant General Manager- Tom Kurvers. Julien knows Tom quite well, as Tom is the Senior Adviser to the General Manager with the Lightning. Kurvers has served as a Director of Player Personnel with the Phoenix Coyotes and also used to be an Assistant General Manager for the Lightning, so I think he’d be well suited for an AGM role. He could be a possible GM candidate for the Hershey Bears as well. Julien has been doing that dual role, so I could see him allowing Kurvers to do the same.
Assistant General Manager- Don Fishman. He’s very good at what he does. Few understand the salary cap rules, CBA, and player contracts better than Fishman.
Assistant General Manager- Ross Mahoney. The Capitals have drafted quite well the past few years. A lot of credit for that belongs to Director of Amateur Scouting Ross Mahoney. He deserves a promotion.
One thing’s for certain. Big changes will happen in DC. The question is, will they be good, or bad?