The 2011-12 NHL season was a wild ride for the Washington Capitals. Franchise legend Dale Hunter took over for Bruce Boudreau at Thanksgiving, but the Capitals fared no better under Hunter, and only qualified for the playoffs after the 81st game of the season.
The playoffs, however, were a brand-new season. The Washington Capitals went toe-to-toe with the defending Stanley Cup champions and defeated the Boston Bruins in a thrilling seventh game in what was statistically the closest playoff series in NHL history.
The ride ended in the next round, however, as the Caps fell in seven games to the New York Rangers, a team that was just a little better at executing the same system.
Then came the real heartbreak. Less than 24 hours after the 2-1 defeat in Game 7 at Madison Square Garden, Dale Hunter told General Manager George McPhee the news that McPhee—and all Capitals fans—had been dreading since November: Dale would be leaving the Capitals to return to London, Ontario, to tend to his family.
George McPhee was hoping that the captain of the 1998 Washington Capitals would also lead the team to the Stanley Cup Finals as head coach, but to no avail.
Now, the Washington Capitals are seemingly back to square one. But George McPhee is less concerned and plans to take his time in looking for Hunter's replacement.
And who could that replacement be? Here are 10 strong candidates, each with a grade on how well they would fit the Washington Capitals.