Plenty of questions surround Caps' GM search

Plenty of questions surround Caps' GM search
May 19, 2014, 6:45 pm
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(Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

Is Wayne Gretzky still under consideration to be the next president of the Capitals?

Is Dick Patrick prepared to forfeit that title and the responsibilities that go with it?

Has Ray Shero emerged as the leading candidate to replace George McPhee as general manager?

If so, would he hire Barry Trotz, Dan Bylsma or Jacques Martin as his head coach?

And what about Don Sweeney and Paul Fenton? Are they still in the mix?

The Capitals are now in their fourth week without a general manager and coach and with 39 days remaining before the NHL draft, the questions surrounding them remain unanswered.

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A source close to Gretzky said Monday that the 53-year-old native of Brantford, Ontario very much wants to be president of the Capitals and would consider former Columbus general manager Doug MacLean as his general manager.

However, the source said Gretzky has not had more than a few casual conversations with the Capitals and believes that if they really wanted Gretzky they would have hired him by now.

It is entirely possible that Patrick is not prepared to surrender the duties he has had with the Capitals since 1982.

The Capitals reportedly have interviewed Sweeney, the 47-year-old assistant general manager of the Bruins, for the vacant general manager’s job. Sweeney played 16 seasons in the NHL from 1988-2004, logging more than 1,100 games for the Bruins and Dallas Stars. He has spent the past eight seasons in the Bruins’ front office, first as a director of player development, then as a director of hockey operations. He became assistant general manager in 2010.

The Caps reportedly have also interviewed Paul Fenton, the 54-year-old assistant general manager of the Nashville Predators. Fenton has served under Preds general manager David Poile for the past eight years while also managing the roster of the AHL Milwaukee Admirals.

The Caps could be waiting to speak with Shero before making their final decision on a GM.

Shero became available on Friday when the Pittsburgh Penguins fired him days after the Pens were eliminated by the New York Rangers in the seventh game of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

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Shero, 51, worked as a scout for the Ottawa Senators, then as an assistant general manager in Nashville before taking the job as Penguins GM in 2006. He has guided the Penguins to the playoffs in eight consecutive seasons, the third longest active streak in the NHL.

The Vancouver Canucks and Penguins are the only other NHL teams without general managers. The Canucks, Florida Panthers, Carolina Hurricanes and Capitals are without head coaches, with many in Pittsburgh wondering if Dan Bylsma will be retained.

If Shero or Fenton is hired by the Capitals, many believe their working history with Trotz would sway the 51-year-old coach to come to Washington after spending 15 seasons in Nashville.

Trotz is widely considered the most popular candidate available and has indicated he would like to begin interviewing with NHL teams sometime this week. He also has said he would like to see a general manager in place before accepting a position with another NHL team.

If Trotz opts to take a position with another NHL team, Los Angeles Kings assistant coach John Stevens and Penguins assistant coach Jacques Martin would be considered excellent options, along with Bylsma if he becomes available.

With that in mind, the Capitals’ time line on replacing McPhee appears to be somewhere in the two-week range, allowing the new general manager ample time to evaluate the Caps’ roster leading up to the June 27-28 NHL draft in Philadelphia, a weekend where many teams reconstruct their rosters through trades.