After the Washington Capitals announced they had fired head coach Todd Reirden earlier today, general manager Brian MacLellan answered a number of questions about the team, particularly about the head coaching change. With so much criticism being directed at Capitals ownership and management about their unwillingness to spend money on a veteran head coach (they have hired first-time coaches in five of their last six hires), MacLellan admitted the team will definitely look at a coach with some experience.
“I think we need an experienced coach,” said MacLellan (via NHL.com’s Tom Gulitti and ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski. “We have an experienced group. I think we had a good culture here and it’s starting to slip … I think we’ve developed a habit of thinking that we can play good when we have to play good, rather than developing good habits.”
That could open up the team to go after one of the many experienced and successful coaches that became available during the 2020-21 season, including Gerard Gallant, Mike Babcock, Peter Laviolette and Bruce Boudreau.
MacLellan also said that he was disappointed two years ago that the Capitals and (former head coach) Barry Trotz couldn’t come to an agreement after they won the Stanley Cup in 2018. He added that the team was willing to pay Trotz market value, but failed to agree on term.
The GM added that the team is in no rush to hire a head coach and will take their time to find the best possible candidate, according to Gulitti. Nothing has been determined regarding Reirden’s assistant coaches either.
- The Washington Post’s Samantha Pell reports that goaltender Ilya Samsonov, who didn’t go to Toronto with the team due to an off-ice injury, has been getting therapy for his injury for six weeks and the team is expected to evaluate him in two weeks to see how he’s doing. The Capitals expect him to be ready for the 2020-21 season. The 23-year-old looks to be the goaltender of the future after an impressive rookie season in which he sported a 2.55 GAA and a .913 save percentage in 26 games.
- MacLellan, at the press conference, also admitted that the Capitals chances of bringing back starting goaltender Braden Holtby is “going to be difficult,” according to Wyshynski. However, he also admits that nothing has been decided about the 30-year-old, who will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason. Holtby didn’t fare well during the regular season with Washington, posting a 3.11 GAA and a .897 save percentage in 48 games. However, he did fare somewhat better during the playoffs with a 2.49 GAA and a .906 save percentage in eight appearances.
- Gulitti also notes that MacLellan said that he isn’t that concerned about extension talks with star forward Alex Ovechkin. The GM said he will talk to Ovechkin when players arrive at training camp later this year. The soon-to-be 35-year-old is still playing at top form, scoring 48 goals during the shortened regular season as well as another four goals in the team’s eight playoff games. He has one year remaining on his 13-year, $124MM deal that he signed back in 2008.