Changes behind Capitals' bench?

Changes behind Capitals' bench?
June 18, 2013, 5:30 pm
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Caps should have new faces on the bench

When Adam Oates was hired as head coach of the Capitals last summer he immediately tabbed Calle Johansson as the man he wanted to lead his defense.

But with neither coach having a wealth of NHL experience, the Caps hired veteran assistant Tim Hunter as Oates’ other voice behind the bench.

That may be about to change.

According to a report, Hunter, 52, has been given permission by the Capitals to interview with other NHL clubs prior to the June 30 NHL draft. He is believed to have one more year remaining on his contract with the Caps.

If Hunter decides to leave the Caps – and there is a very good chance he will – there are three names closely associated with Oates who could be in line to replace him.

Former teammates Peter Bondra and Rick Tocchet and former Bruins head coach Steve Kasper are three possible candidates for the Capitals’ assistant’s position if it becomes available.

Bondra, 45, played with Oates in Washington for parts of six seasons [1996-2002] and was instrumental in turning the Caps’ power play into one of the most dangerous in the NHL.

The Caps’ all-time leader in goals [503] and points [825], Bondra expressed an interest in becoming an assistant coach in the NHL last summer and was a frequent guest in the Capitals’ press box this season. He has no formal coaching experience.

Tocchet, 49, played parts of three NHL seasons with Oates in Boston, Washington and Philadelphia and gave Oates his first NHL coaching job as an assistant with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2009.

Tocchet has not been behind an NHL bench since he was fired by the Lightning three years ago.

Kasper, 51, served as Oates’ head coach in Boston for two seasons [1995-97] but was fired after failing to make the playoffs in 1997 and has not worked behind an NHL bench since. He coached in the Maritime Junior A Hockey League before taking his current position, a scouting job with the Toronto Maple Leafs.