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Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman shed a little more light on who was interviewed and how they were interviewed for the Capitals head coaching vacancy in his latest 31 Thoughts Published on Thursday. Friedman noted that the process included a conversation with former Capitals’ bench boss Bruce Boudreau. Friedman also stated that Capitals new head coach Peter Laviolette spoke with Alex Ovechkin for 30 minutes on Wednesday.
“The moment the Capitals committed to a coaching change, word filtered that Laviolette was the favourite. During the hiring’s media conference, GM Brian MacLellan said there were two in-person interviews. Those were Laviolette and Mike Babcock. There was a conversation with Bruce Boudreau, but it didn’t go far. There was a zoom connection with Gerard Gallant, but border quarantines affected his candidacy. Because MacLellan was in the U.S. and Gallant in Atlantic Canada, face-to-face meetings were logistically challenging.
Babcock’s interview apparently came during some kind of socially distanced family dinner/cookout, and there was some buzz it went so well it tightened the race. (MacLellan would not comment.)
In the end, I think Laviolette was the choice anyway. However, another coach told me that he believed Washington was a little concerned about the “noise” around Babcock, especially since we don’t know when next year will begin. Without games, the focus is on the past, not the present or future. To be honest, I’m not sure Babcock would be crazy about that reality either. For the time being, he remains a guest coach at NCAA Vermont, helping the Catamounts prepare for their season.”
In other Boudreau news, it’s now being reported that he is also no longer in the mix for the Maple Leafs assistant couching position.
Announcement expected later today by the Leafs. Solid hire. Toronto also talked to the likes of Rocky Thompson and Bruce Boudreau for the opening but went with Malhotra. (Thompson is joining Bob Boughner’s staff in San Jose). https://t.co/wdO5708TT0
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) September 17, 2020
We know for a fact Bruce is eager to get back to coaching as soon as possible, but for now the search continues for Boudreau.
Friedman’s 31 Thoughts noted that Laviolette spoke with Alex Ovechkin for 30 minutes on Wednesday. Friedman also stated that one Capitals player new immediately from the re-start that it wasn’t going to work.
“Peter Laviolette, who guested on the 31 Thoughts podcast this week, had a 30-minute conversation with Washington captain Alex Ovechkin on Wednesday.
“I’ve coached against him so long and he’s played against the teams I’ve coached for so long, it was almost like, ‘Well, we finally get to work together,’” Laviolette said. “He’s disappointed about not going further in the playoffs.”
One Capital said he knew right when the team came back from the pause that it wasn’t going to work. The spark was missing. How will Laviolette re-ignite it?
“It’s not like you have to go in and build this from nothing, or from no success, or very little success. That’s what’s exciting…. Just add a layer. Not reinvent the wheel, but somehow add a layer and push and motivate, get these guys to climb the ladder just a little bit higher.”
One thing I heard Washington wanted to address: Their defence corps was “off” last season. The group just didn’t work well together. That unit flourished under Laviolette in Nashville. The Capitals watched Andre Burakovsy and Chandler Stephenson blossom elsewhere, so trying a new approach was the preference.”
By Jon Sorensen
Concerning that a player thought “no chance” right from the (re)start.