Originally written on Rock the Red  |  Last updated 11/19/14

Following the Capitals’ loss in game seven of the Eastern Conference semifinals last Saturday, the thoughts of many people immediately turned to Washington head coach Dale Hunter.  Would he be back?  Would he choose to come back, or would General Manager George McPhee make the decision for him?

Monday morning at Kettler Capitals Iceplex, we all found out.  McPhee announced at his end-of-season media availability that Hunter would, in fact, not be back as the head coach of the Capitals, deciding instead to return home to London, Ontario.  And that was that.

With Hunter’s departure, however, the Capitals don’t have a coach.  They need one, the sooner the better.  To set the stage for the appointment of the next coach, I’ve prepared a list of job requirements, or qualities, that I’d like to see in the next Washington bench boss.

The ability to fix Alex Ovechkin: As we all know, Capitals winger and captain Alex Ovechkin is a shell of his former self.  Ovechkin’s point output plummeted to 65 this year, down from 85 the previous season and 109 the season before that.  His corsi rating has also taken a nosedive, and it was the 7th best out of the 11 forwards who played 50 or more games for the Capitals this year – against the second easiest competition on the team.  Goal scoring, since the lockout, has gone down, as have power play opportunities.  But the Capitals, and probably their success, are tied to Ovechkin because of his contract and his status as one of the faces of the NHL.  In all likelihood, he isn’t going anywhere, and no NHL team, particularly one that is as heavily invested in one as the Caps are in Ovechkin, can win when it’s star player isn’t doing what he’s supposed to.  This is a big problem, and “team play” or not, getting Ovechkin on track is an important, and difficult, task.

Read on to find out more needs!

A winning pedigree: Unlike when Bruce Boudreau was appointed in the fall of 2007, the Capitals are not “coming in” to their stage as a team with serious Stanley Cup aspirations.  They are in that period, and they may be nearing the end of that window.  As such, I feel as though a coach who has won the Stanley Cup, as a player or behind the bench, is a key quality McPhee should look for when hiring his next coach.  The Capitals have never had a Stanley Cup champion, in any form, as one of their head coaches, and having that could really help them get over the mental hurdle that they seem to have about getting far in the playoffs and eventually winning a championship.  From my standpoint, I would just feel more confident in the Caps’ ability to get it done if they had someone behind the bench who had, and I know that many feel the same way.  This could be especially important when you consider that next year, there could only be one Stanley Cup winner (Troy Brouwer) on the roster.

Balance: All defense doesn’t work in today’s NHL.  All offense doesn’t work in today’s NHL.  It’s time to find a balance between the two and use that system in order to try and win a Stanley Cup.  This balance requires strategy, careful planning, and the proper deployment of players, and it also requires a system that forces puck possession, predictability, and strength in all three zones, not just one or two.  Playing into this is the ability to fix the power play, which has been very anemic over the last two seasons after two seasons of dominance.

Tough love: Though I may not have agreed with Dale Hunter’s tactics or system at all, one thing that I absolutely applaud him for is his system of accountability and his ability to get the team to play together by making everyone equals.  You have to play together to win, and the ability to instill this into the current Capitals was a big part of them getting as far as they did.  The coach has to be in charge, without a doubt.  There can be no usurping of the coaches authority by any players, star or otherwise.  I feel as thought that was sometimes a problem under Boudreau, but not Hunter.  That must continue.  Also – you may say that this contradicts my first point.  It doesn’t.  You can help fix and help your best player on the ice without letting him be in control off of it.

Of course, it’s almost impossible to find someone available who has all of these attributes; most of the coaches like this are signed up somewhere else.  But they are all important in some form or another, and finding someone who possesses them is, I feel, key to the Capitals winning the Stanley Cup.  A good coach is a key ingredient in any Championship drink, and this only scratches the surface of all of the pieces of the decision that McPhee will make when naming his man.

I will publish my list of possible candidates in the next week.

Harry Hawkings is a college student who covers the Capitals for RtR.  Follow him on Twitter here.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Browns GM Ray Farmer suspended over text messages

Aaron Hernandez's fiancee disposed of box after murder

Byron Scott: Opposing players say they want to play for Lakers

Falcons reportedly will lose pick over pumping in crowd noise

Report: Sam Bradford wouldn't sign extension with Browns

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Jimbo Fisher: Winston is victim of ‘character assassination’

Russell Wilson on contract: 'It's going to work out'

Kentucky seeks one kind of history, Coach K makes another

Matt Stafford's fiancee rips newspaper over article

Craig Sager's leukemia has returned

Frozen Four: Providence earns first bid since 1985

Urban Meyer: 'No issue' with Braxton Miller's Instagram post

Tiger Woods drops out of top 100 for first time in 19 years

Top 10 stories from NCAA Tourney's second weekend

The MLBPA has a problem

Final Four preview: How can every team win?

WrestleMania 31 results: Rollins cashes in, Rousey appears

Five soon-to-be NBA free agents with a lot on the line

WATCH: Russell Wilson hits home run during Rangers BP

Hooked 'em: Why Texas had to fire Rick Barnes

Adam Morrison trolled fan who made JJ Redick comment

Jim Harbaugh finished fourth in student government election

WATCH: Notre Dame gets warm reception upon return home

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Browns GM suspended for texts

Hernandez's fiancee disposed of box

Mayweather-Pacquiao: It's sparring tall-tale season

The MLBPA has a problem

Final Four preview: Can every team win?

Full WrestleMania 31 recap and results

Why Texas had to fire Rick Barnes

Craig Sager's leukemia has returned

Report: Chris Mullin to take St. John's job

Report: NFL looking into more cameras

CC Sabathia goes off about spring stats

John Fox: Cutler will have to earn job

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.