Who Could Be The Capitals’ Next Head Coach? Here Are Some Names
For the third time since winning the Stanley Cup in 2018, the Washington Capitals are searching for a new head coach.
The team mutually parted ways with Peter Laviolette after the team missed the playoffs for the first time since 2014. The ideal replacement, according to general manager Brian MacLellan, is somebody who can effectively work with both young players and veterans.
“We’ll see how it shakes out here,” MacLellan said last month. “We’ll start looking at names and, with our group, talk about different coaches that people know and traits they have. Maybe we have to wait to talk to some assistant coaches that we think are candidates. We’ll see how it goes.”
From ties to the organization to proven success, here are some names that could be on the Capitals’ list.
Jeff Halpern, Lightning assistant
To date, Halpern is the only candidate that has publicly been linked to the job — and for good reason. He’s been behind the bench in Tampa for the past five seasons, and helped the team secure back-to-back Stanley Cups in 2020 and 2021.
A DMV native, Halpern had an extensive playing career consisting of 14 seasons with seven teams — including five seasons with the Capitals.
Spencer Carbery, Maple Leafs assistant
Carbery is no stranger to the Capitals organization, having served as the Hershey Bears head coach from 2018-21. Under his watch — which included coaching NHLers Vitek Vanecek, Alex Alexeyev and Ilya Samsonov — the Bears went 104-50-17 with one playoff appearance.
In 2021, Carbery was hired as an assistant in Toronto under head coach Sheldon Keefe. The Maple Leafs have gone 139-56-25 since Carbery joined the staff, appearing in the NHL playoffs in each of the three seasons.
Todd Nelson, Hershey Bears head coach
Like Carbery, Nelson’s ties to the organization make him an attractive candidate — especially with young up-and-comers like Connor McMichael and Hendrix Lapierre familiar with his coaching style. In his only season helming the Bears, he has guided the team to a 44-19-5 record and two playoff series wins.
A former player himself, Nelson has a track record of working with players at different levels. He’s spent six seasons as an NHL assistant — plus 51 games as the Edmonton Oilers interim head coach in 2014-15 — in addition to eight seasons as an AHL head coach for three different teams.
Bruce Boudreau, former Canucks head coach
Boudreau, 68, may be the oldest coach on this list, but he’s also the only one that has been the Washington Capitals’ head coach before. From 2007-12, he led the team to a 201-88-40 record and four playoff appearances before a slump resulted in his firing.
He’s been employed behind a bench for most of the past 15 years with stops in Anaheim, Minnesota and Vancouver, but a difficult ending to his stint with the Canucks may have soured him on a head coaching return — at least right away, especially when the alternative is a cushy TV job.
Gerard Gallant, former Rangers head coach
Five years after the Gallant-led Vegas Golden Knights met the Capitals in the Stanley Cup Final, the veteran head coach is on the market. Despite leading the Rangers to back-to-back 100 point seasons, Gallant and the team opted to part ways earlier this month.
A three-time Jack Adams Award nominee, Gallant, 59, also had stints as the head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Florida Panthers.
Andrew Brunette, Devils assistant
This one might be a bit more unlikely than some of the others, but Brunette’s recent success makes him a name teams cannot ignore. He took over as interim head coach of the Florida Panthers two weeks into the 2021-22 season before guiding the team to the top of the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference’s best seed.
After being passed over for the permanent head job, Brunette jumped at an opportunity as a Devils assistant. However, following an arrest for DUI earlier this year, Brunette’s chance as a head coach could be better suited for a future date — if at all.