News and notes around the NHL and how it may pertain to the Caps’ search for a president/general manager and coach:
Bylsma/Shero watch: A year ago, Penguins general manager Ray Shero surprised a lot of people by giving Dan Bylsma a two-year contract extension that tied the two together until the end of next season. Now, it appears Shero will be asked to fire Bylsma or be shown the door with him.
A big reason, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, is a dwindling fan base. According to the newspaper, the Penguins had a season-ticket waiting list of about 9,500 back in December 2012. As of Wednesday that figure had shrunk to “over 4,400,” according to the team’s website.
The Pens have sold out 334 consecutive games at Mellon Arena and Consol Energy Center and if ownership wants that trend to continue it may need to listen to a fan base crying for change.
If Bylsma is fired it will be interesting to see who might replace him and how that impacts the Caps’ search for a new head coach. The Penguins have been impressed by the work of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins head coach John Hynes and despite accusations he once put a bounty on the head of former Caps defenseman Steve Oleksy in a game against the Bears, many believe Hynes is ready to step from the AHL to the NHL.
But would the Penguins rather have an experienced voice like Barry Trotz, who has become most sought-after free-agent coach of the offseason?
And, if Bylsma is fired, would Penguins assistant coach Jacques Martin be interested in returning to a head coaching role with the Capitals? He has nearly 1,300 games of NHL head coaching experience and more than 600 wins under his belt.
And what about Shero? Is there a chance Mario Lemieux cuts his ties with the Penguins’ 51-year-old general manager eight years after hiring him to replace Craig Patrick? If so, would Shero jump to the top of the list of general manager candidates in Washington and Vancouver?
If Shero became available, would you hire him to manage the Caps?
No more Shark bait: Meanwhile in San Jose, Sharks majority owner Hasso Plattner threw his support behind general manager Doug Wilson and head coach Todd McLellan on Wednesday, saying both would return in their respective roles. The Sharks blew a 3-0 series lead against the Los Angeles Kings, who are mounting a similar comeback against Bruce Boudreau and the Anaheim Ducks in Round 2.
The Sharks became only the fourth team in NHL history to blow a playoff series after leading 3-0.
“I am very disappointed in the way our team finished the 2013-14 season,” Plattner said in a statement. “Gaining a 3-0 series advantage and being unable to advance is a major blow to our organization and fan base. Our teams have been consistently built to go deep into the playoffs and this goal won't change.
“Doug Wilson and I have met over the past two weeks. He has shared his support of the coaching staff, as well as his recommended changes to our team's roster, and he has my complete support moving forward.”
What kind of major roster changes are coming in San Jose?
They have five forwards who are under contract for three or more seasons – Joe Thornton [3 years, $6.75 cap hit], Patrick Marleau [3 years, $6.66 million cap hit], Brent Burns [3 years, $5.76 million cap hit], and Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture [each with 5 years, $6 million cap hits].
Wilson will attempt to move at least one and maybe two of those players leading up to the NHL draft on June 27-28 in Philadelphia. Could you see any of those five fitting into the Caps’ roster? And what would it take to get them?
Should the Caps make a play for Sharks 37-year-old defenseman Dan Boyle, who is likely to become a free agent on July 1?