If Barry Trotz is the next head coach of the Capitals, ownership may be waiting until a new general manager is in place before making the announcement.
According to multiple reports, the Capitals met with Trotz last week and are close to completing a long-term deal that will make him the team’s first head coach with NHL experience since they hired Ron Wilson in 1997.
Since then, each of the Caps’ five head coaches – Bruce Cassidy, Glen Hanlon, Bruce Boudreau, Dale Hunter and Adam Oates – arrived with no previous head coaching experience in the NHL.
Trotz, who spent the previous 16 years as head coach of the Nashville Predators, has said recently that he would prefer to know his general manager before accepting his next NHL job.
With that in mind, the Capitals likely have narrowed their search for a general manager to someone with whom Trotz is comfortable working alongside.
Of those general manager candidates, Ray Shero, Paul Fenton and Craig Button have a previous working history with Trotz, who began his NHL career as a scout with the Capitals back in 1987. The Capitals are also believed to be contemplating promoting Brian MacLellan, 55, from assistant general manager to general manager.
Shero, 51, is by far the most experienced of the general manager candidates, guiding the Pittsburgh Penguins to the playoffs in eight straight seasons and getting to three conference finals, two Stanley Cup Finals and winning one Stanley Cup in that time.
Prior to working in Pittsburgh, Shero spent eight seasons as an assistant general manager in Nashville while Trotz was head coach.
Fenton, 54, has spent the past 16 seasons in Nashville, replacing Shero as assistant general manager in 2006. With no NHL managing experience Fenton likely would command a lower salary than Shero.
Button, 51, would be an interesting choice, considering he is now an analyst for the NHL Network. His father, Jack, served as an assistant general manager of the Capitals from 1979 until his death in 1996.
After earning a degree in economics from ConcordiaUniversity in Montreal in 1987, Craig Button served as the Minnesota North Stars’ director of scouting from 1992-98 and as their director of player personnel from 1998-2000, getting his name on the Stanley Cup in 1999.
Button was hired as the Calgary Flames’ vice president and general manager in 2000 and remained in that position for three seasons. He spent time as a scout with the Toronto Maple Leafs before taking a job as an analyst on NHL on the Fly on the NHL Network.
MacLellan served as a pro scout for the Caps from 2000-03 and was promoted to director of player personnel, assisting and advising George McPhee in all player-related matters. He also oversees the Caps’ pro scouting staff and works closely with the Hershey Bears.