Reports surfaced a week ago that the Washington Capitals received permission to interview veteran coach Peter Laviolette for their open head coaching position. However with three big-name coaches available, many felt GM Brian MacLellan would also interview the other two, to fill the vacancy left after the team fired Todd Reirden.
Last night during Hockey Night in Canada, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported that Washington has already interviewed former Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock:
“Last week the reports got out that the Washington Capitals had permission to interview Peter Laviolette for their vacant head coaching job, this week it’s believed that they interviewed Toronto’s former head coach Mike Babcock,” Friedman said. “And he is a legitimate candidate for the position.”
Babcock certainly would provide the Capitals with a ton of experience. The 57-year-old coached the Anaheim Ducks for two seasons before taking on the Detroit Red Wings for 12 years, which included winning the Stanley Cup in 2008. He spent four and a half years with the Toronto Maple Leafs, but failed to lead the team through a round of the playoffs. Throw in a sluggish start to the 2019-20 season and he was fired in November. He has a combined 351-173-133 regular season record.
However, it doesn’t end there as Friedman also noted later on in the segment that the Capitals have also interviewed former Columbus Blue Jackets, Florida Panthers and Vegas Golden Knights’ head coach Gerard Gallant. The veteran coach coached each team for two full seasons each before getting fired in the middle of his third season with each team. However, he did win the Jack Adams award in 2018 in Vegas’ inaugural season when he took the expansion team to the Stanley Cup Finals. He was also the runner-up for the Jack Adams with Florida in 2016.
The Capitals are in a good position with so many veteran coaches available. The team, who has a history of hiring inexperienced coaches, has made it clear they are willing to bring in a coach with plenty of experience as the window for the team is starting to close. Star forward Alex Ovechkin will be turning 35 years old in 11 days and likely only has two to three years remaining at his peak and with little youth in the system, Washington will need a coach that can light a fire under them in the next few years.