Say No to the Same

NEW YORK, N.Y. — Ever since Dale Hunter stepped down as the head coach of the Washington Capitals on May 14, everyone has had their say over who should be the next head coach of the Capitals.  I published a list of qualities that I wanted in the next coach, but I did not name a single guy.

That’s because I don’t think there is one man that I think can lead the Capitals to the Promised Land.  There are a few out there with potential in my mind.

Marc Crawford, who won the Stanley Cup with Colorado in the late 1990s, is one.  Craig MacTavish, who last coached the Oilers in their miracle run to the 2006 Stanley Cup Final, is another.  Mike Sullivan, a current assistant to John Tortorella with the Rangers, is a third.

But late Thursday, TSN’s Bob McKenzie, while enjoying some $17.95 in-flight internet, responded to a question about the Caps’ coaching search by Adam Vingan of NBCWashington.com.

“Do not seem to be in a hurry,” McKenize tweeted.  “Asst Dean Evason will get a look.”

Um, no.

Look, I have nothing against Dean Evason.  Really, I don’t.  I think he’s a fine assistant, and he’s always done his job well, as far as I can tell.  He’s been in Washington for seven seasons now.  He has paid his dues, for the most part.  Eventually, he will probably get his shot as a head coach in the NHL.

It should not be with the Washington Capitals.  And the reasoning is simple: it’s more of the same.

It’s common knowledge for most that Albert Einstein once said: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result.”


Since George McPhee and Ron Wilson were named General Manager and Head Coach, respectively, before the 1997-1998 season, McPhee has never once hired a head coach that had NHL coaching experience.  Not one.

Read more about the Caps' former rookie bench bosses here.

Bruce Cassidy was, by almost all accounts, a failure.  Glen Hanlon was a colossal failure.  Bruce Boudreau was a brilliant coach who was done in by trying to gain control of the locker room – and sub par goaltending.  Dale Hunter was a nice story, but did not achieve desired results and played a risky, luck-based brand of hockey.

Ron Wilson, the only coach in the McPhee era to have previous head coaching experience, led the Capitals to the Stanley Cup Final.  None of the others have made it out of the second round.

Of course, there is more at work here than just the coach when looking at that trend.  But the trend is there, and it is clear.

Dean Evason is the same way.  He’s been an assistant for a long time, he knows the game, and he knows the Capitals organization.  But he has never been in charge for a day in his life at the professional level.

After such a turbulent season, that’s not what the Capitals need.  They need someone who has been there before, preferably someone who has won a Stanley Cup or at least been deep into the playoffs.  Someone who knows what it takes to win.  Dean Evason is not that guy.

What’s more, I don’t know if he can answer the most pressing question for the Capitals, and that is how to fix Alex Ovechkin.  If he had an idea of how to do it, don’t you think he might have already tried it?  If Ovechkin were to be traded, which seems unlikely, it would be a bit different.  But for the money the Caps have tied up in Ovechkin, the new coach has to be able to fix him.  I don’t think Dean Evason is that guy.  Do you?

But most importantly, Evason has ties with the organization, just like Cassidy, Hanlon, Boudreau, and Hunter did.  It is time for someone new.  It is time for a breath of fresh air.  Like the Michel Therrien hire in Montreal, hiring Evason would be a lazy, easy hire for George McPhee to make.

If McPhee is going to take all of this time searching for a coach, and presumably holding both the draft and free agency without one, I really don’t think Evason should be the best he can do.  This team needs change, and they won’t get it from within the organization.  Everyone is under the same coaching tree and it would be more of the same.  Jim Johnson falls under the same category.

This is not an indictment of Evason as a grower of talent or as an assistant.  But he is not what the Capitals need in their next head coach.

Harry Hawkings is a college student who is credentialed to cover the Capitals for RtR.  Follow him on Twitter here.