With a new general manager [Brian MacLellan] and a new coach [Barry Trotz] the next step in the Capitals' front office rebuild will be the hiring of a new head coach for the AHL Hershey Bears and new assistants for the Capitals and Bears.
Among the top candidates for those positions are former Winnipeg Jets head coach Claude Noel, former Florida Panthers head coach Peter Horachek, Nashville Predators assistant coach Lane Lambert, Toronto Maple Leafs assistant coach Dave Farrish, Syracuse Crunch head coach Rob Zettler, former Team Canada assistant coach Doug Shedden, and former Canucks assistant coach Mike Sullivan.
In the coming days we'll profile each candidate. Today: Rob Zettler
Hometown: Sept-Iles, Quebec
Current position: head coach, Syracuse Crunch [AHL]
NHL coaching experience: San Jose Sharks assistant 2002-08; Toronto Maple Leafs assistant 2008-12.
Barry Trotz connection: A former NHL defenseman, Zettler played two games under Trotz for the Nashville Predators in 1998-99.
Coaching background: Immediately following his retirement as a player for the Capitals in 2002, Zettler was hired by his former coach, Ron Wilson, as an assistant coach in San Jose. [Wilson was hired by the Sharks shortly after being dismissed by the Capitals]. Zettler served as Wilson's defensive coach in San Jose for five seasons, and when Wilson was fired by the Sharks and hired by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2008, Zettler joined him as an assistant coach for four more years. After Wilson was fired late in the 2011-12 season, Zettler took a job as an assistant coach under Jon Cooper with the Syracuse Crunch, the top affiliate of the Tampa Bay Lightning. When Cooper replaced Guy Boucher as coach of the Lightning on March 25, 2013, Zettler got his first head coaching job behind the bench of the Crush. In his first full season behind the bench, Zettler failed to get the Crunch into the playoffs, finishing with a 31-32-4-9 record.
Playing experience: Taken by the Minnesota North Stars with the 55th pick of the 1986 NHL draft, Zettler was a 6-foot-3, 200-pound defenseman who spent 14 seasons in the NHL, primarily as a depth defenseman for the North Stars, Sharks, Flyers, Leafs, Predators and Capitals. He finished with five goals and 65 assists in 569 NHL seasons, including 90 games for the Caps from 1999-02.
Quirky fact: While serving as an assistant coach for the San Jose Sharks, Zettler worked as a color commentator for the Sharks' TV affiliate, hosting a 30-minute magazine show called Sharkbytes. He and former Caps assistant coach Tim Hunter also became the first pro coaches to join the Positive Coaching Alliance.