Is Gretzky still in the hunt for job with Caps?

Is Gretzky still in the hunt for job with Caps?
May 12, 2014, 6:45 pm
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Last month, when the Capitals were eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs with less than a week remaining in the regular season, team owner Ted Leonsis promised to be deliberate and thorough with his evaluations before deciding on the future of the organization.

Two weeks later, on April 26, he decided to fire general manager George McPhee and head coach Adam Oates.

Three weeks later the Capitals are still without a general manager while rumors persist that Wayne Gretzky could join the organization as a vice president and director of hockey operations.

If Gretzky is the man to lead the Capitals into their next hockey chapter, whom might he ask to join him as general manager in his latest venture?

Boston Bruins assistant general manager Jim Benning appears to be the most popular choice as the NHL’s general manager in waiting, but he reportedly has his sights set on the vacancy in Vancouver.

That would leave a wide open field of potential general managers with limited experience in that role.  

Included among the candidates are former NHL general managers Doug MacLean, Craig Button and Mike Gillis.

MacLean, 60, served as an assistant coach with the Capitals in the late 1980s and coached the AHL Baltimore Skipjacks in 1990 before taking a job as an assistant general manager to Bryan Murray with the Detroit Red Wings.

After four years in Detroit MacLean was hired as head coach of the Florida Panthers in 1995 and guided them to the Stanley Cup Final in his first season behind the bench.

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His last NHL job came as general manager of the Columbus Blue Jackets, working there from the start of the franchise in 1998 until 2007.

For the past four years MacLean has worked as a radio host and analyst for Hockey Central.

Button, 51, is another former NHL GM working in the media as an analyst for NHL on the Fly on the NHL Network.

Button worked in the scouting department of the Minnesota North Stars and Dallas Stars from 1988-2000, winning a Stanley Cup ring in 1999 before landing the job of general manager of the Calgary Flames from 2000-03. He is credited for constructing the nucleus of the Calgary team that went to the 2004 Stanley Cup Final.

Gillis, 55, is a former player agent who was hired as general manager of the Canucks in 2008. Under Gillis the Canucks reached the playoffs in five straight seasons, falling to the Bruins in the seventh game of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final. His teams were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs in each of the past two seasons and he was relieved of his duties on April 8.

There are also a pair of GM candidates currently working in Toronto. Dave Poulin and Claude Loiselle have been retained under new Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan but both have been linked to the vacancy in Washington.

Poulin, 55, retired as a player in 1995 and coached Notre DameUniversity for 10 seasons.  In 2009 he was hired by the Maple Leafs as their vice president of hockey operations and general manager of the AHL Toronto Marlies.

Loiselle, 50, retired as a player in 1994 and was hired as assistant general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning and general manager of the AHL Norfolk Admirals.

He spent seven years as Associate Director of Hockey Operations for the NHL and, after serving as a scout with the Anaheim Ducks, he was hired by the Leafs in 2010 as assistant general manager to Brian Burke.

Also believed to be on the Capitals’ long list of GM candidates is Nashville Predators assistant general manager Paul Fenton, Sharks director of scouting Tim Burke, and Tampa Bay Lightning assistant general manager Julien BriseBois.

Of those listed, who would you hire as the Caps' next general manager? Is there someone else that fits better?