Exactly one month ago, after relieving Adam Oates and George McPhee of their duties as coach and general manager, Capitals owner Ted Leonsis made it clear his team needed a new voice and a fresh set of eyes.
Today at a 12:30 p.m. news conference that will be aired live on Comcast SportsNet, the Capitals will introduce Barry Trotz as the new voice of the Capitals.
But is Brian MacLellan the fresh set of eyes they were seeking?
Before hiring MacLellan, Leonsis and Dick Patrick brought in Boston Bruins assistant general manager Don Sweeney and Nashville Predators assistant general manager Paul Fenton for interviews and decided that with 13 years of experience with the Capitals MacLellan had just as much insight into what the Caps need to become a Stanley Cup contender.
Time will tell if they are right.
In Trotz, the Capitals have a strong and respected coach with 16 years of experience at the NHL level. Known for his strong defensive systems Trotz should lower the Capitals’ goals-against average while raising the level of accountability on the ice, in the weight room and in the locker room.
The book on MacLellan has yet to be read.
MacLellan, 55, played 10 years in the NHL with the Los Angeles Kings, New York Rangers, Minnesota North Stars, Calgary Flames and Detroit Red Wings, winning the Stanley Cup with the 1988-89 Flames.
He retired from hockey following the 1991-92 season and decided to return to school, earning his MBA in finance from the University of St. Thomas in 1995. MacLellan went on to work for an investment consulting firm in Minneapolis for five years before joining the Capitals as a pro scout in 2000.
After three years as a scout MacLellan was promoted to director of player personnel for the Capitals in 2003 and has spent the past seven years assisting McPhee in all player-related matters.
The question moving forward with MacLellan is how different will the Capitals look under his direction than they did with McPhee.
MacLellan has plenty of questions to answer with a Caps roster that failed to reach the playoffs for the first time in seven seasons.
Will he be a strong advocate of Alex Ovechkin, who has been the face of the franchise since 2005? [The guess here is yes].
Will he keep the Capitals’ current management team intact, beginning with assistant general manager Don Fishman, director of player personnel Steve Richmond, director of amateur scouting Ross Mahoney? [The guess here is yes].
Will he perform a summer overhaul of what many believe was an underachieving roster this season? [The guess here is no].
Will he use the Capitals’ compliance buyout on defenseman Mike Green, who has one year and $6.1 million remaining on his three-year contract with the Caps?
With no general managing experience will he be able to work his magic at the June 27-28 NHL draft in Philadelphia, where the Caps own the 13th overall selection?
And how does he plan to change the culture of a team that seemed to reach its peak four years ago?
The questions facing Trotz are different, but no less pressing.
With an inexperienced general manager, what kind of influence will he have in player transactions? And will he attract players to come to Washington?
Will he keep the coaching staff he inherited from Oates, namely assistants Calle Johansson and Blaine Forsythe and goalie coaches Olie Kolzig and Scott Murray?
Will he bring in former Winnipeg Jets coach Claude Noel as his assistant, or at least recommend him for the vacant Hershey Bears position?
What are his plans to turn Ovechkin, who is coming off a career-worst minus-35, into a plus player?
And how does he shake the stigma of being a boring, defense-oriented coach with explosive players like Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov at his disposal?
This is, indeed, a new era for Washington’s hockey team. Time will tell if it will be a better one.