Peter Laviolette stated in his introductory press conference on September 15 that he hadn’t even begun thinking about a coaching staff. While the Capitals new bench boss is in the process of reviewing existing Capitals’ staff and interviewing potential coaching candidates, NoVa Caps takes a look at a few of the possible candidates to join Laviolette in Washington. First up, Laviolette’s long time right-hand man, Kevin McCarthy.
Kevin McCarthy brings nearly 40 years of professional hockey playing, coaching and front-office experience to his position.
A native of Winnipeg, Man., McCarthy played his junior hockey for his hometown Clubs and Monarchs of the Western Canada Hockey League and was a member of Canada’s 1975 World Junior Championship team that earned a silver medal.
The former defenseman spent 10 seasons in the NHL with the Flyers, Vancouver Canucks and Pittsburgh Penguins from 1977-87, posting 258 points (67g-191a) in 527 career games. During his time with Vancouver, he served as the Canucks’ team captain for three seasons (1979-82) and was named a starter in the 1981 NHL All-Star Game.
McCarthy’s coaching career started as a player-assistant coach for the AHL’s Hershey Bears (1987-88), before a full-time move behind the bench as an assistant in 1988-89 and head coach in 1989-90.
During his time as a player in Hershey, McCarthy developed a quality reputation for his leadership and work with young players, and was promoted to a player-assistant coach during the 1987-88 season. Following his retirement, he remained as an assistant coach for the Bears, and was promoted to head coach for the 1989-90 season. After a season in that capacity, he then spent two seasons as pro scouting director for the Philadelphia Flyers.
The bulk of McCarthy’s work behind the bench came with the Hartford Whalers/Carolina Hurricanes organization for 16 seasons from 1992- 2009, including its Stanley Cup-winning campaign in 2005-06 and another Stanley Cup Final appearance in 2001-02.
After three seasons as an assistant for the Whalers (1992-95), he served as head coach for the franchise’s AHL affiliates in Springfield (1995-97) and New Haven (1997-99), compiling a 156-123-36 record. He rejoined the parent team for the 1999-2000 season and spent the next nine years as a Hurricanes assistant.
Prior to joining the Predators, McCarthy served as an assistant coach on Laviolette’s staff in Philadelphia for five seasons from 2009-14. The duo joined the Flyers on Dec. 4, 2009 and proceeded to lead them to Game 6 of the 2010 Stanley Cup Final, then see the team make an 18-point improvement during their first full season in 2010-11. On October 7, 2013 McCarthy, along with head coach Peter Laviolette, was relieved of his assistant coach position by Flyers general manager, Paul Holmgren.
On May 6, 2014, Laviolette and McCarthy were hired by the Nashville Predators as head coach and assistant coach, respectively. McCarthy spent more than five seasons with Laviolette and the Nashville Predators organization and three seasons as Associate Head Coach.
On July 21, 2017, McCarthy was promoted to Associate coach, after Phil Housley was hired by the Buffalo Sabres and Dan Muse was hired by the Nashville Predators as an assistant coach. On January 6, 2020, Laviolette and McCarthy were fired by the Nashville Predators.
POTENTIAL ROLE IN WASHINGTON
McCarthy’s responsibilities in Nashville included running the team’s defense and consulting on its the team’s power play, so it’s anticipated he would gain a similar role in Washington, although there could be other responsibilities.
A coach that has recently led another NHL team’s defense and power play addresses two of the Capitals current coaching needs, if that is indeed the direction the team wishes to go. There are other potential candidates for the defense (Brooks Orpik, etc.), so a decision may need to be made in that regard.
It is currently unclear if McCarthy is interested in leaving Nashville for Washington, which will obviously play a part in the final decision.
By Jon Sorensen