Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan is doing his due diligence in his search for the team's next head coach.
It was reported in August that he team had interviewed veteran NHL coach Peter Laviolette and now there are two more big names you can add to that list. Elliotte Friedman of SportsNet reported on Saturday that the team had interviewed Mike Babcock and Gerard Gallant. Both coaches are among the biggest names on the market and would fit the description MacLellan gave for what he was looking for.
Babcock is perhaps the biggest name out there with 700 wins, a Stanley Cup with Detroit in 2008 and two conference championships. He also led Team Canada to two Olympic gold medals. His last stop as a head coach, however, was in Toronto where he was fired last Nov. 20.
In the wake of his firing, numerous stories came out detailing some of his harsh and bizarre coaching methods such as making rookie Mitch Marner rank teammates from the hardest-working to the least and then sharing that list with the players, scratching veteran Jason Spezza for the home opener and while with Detroit berating Johan Franzen to the point he had a nervous breakdown.
It has been less than a year since Babcock was fired and I expected he would need more time to rehab his image, but Friedman went on record Saturday calling Babcock, "a legitimate candidate for the position" in Washington.
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Gallant, meanwhile, has a 270-216-4-51 coaching record in nine years as an NHL head coach. He did a masterful job leading the Vegas Golden Knights to the Stanley Cup Final in the team's first year, where they lost to the Caps. He was fired in January in a shocking move, but his replacement Peter DeBoer now has the Golden Knights back in the conference finals.
With Laviolette, Babcock and Gallant all on the team's radar, MacLellan is sending a message to the rest of the league that the Caps are going all-in on the final years of the championship window.