Washington Capitals Quickly Running Out of Strong GM Candidates

Robert WoodCorrespondent IMay 13, 2014

The Philadelphia Flyers beat the Capitals to the punch by hiring Ron Hextall as their new GM.
The Philadelphia Flyers beat the Capitals to the punch by hiring Ron Hextall as their new GM.Associated Press

The Washington Capitals have been without a general manager for all of 17 days and the clock has already begun to tick.

In that relatively short amount of time, three significant GM candidates have been taken off the board.

The first to go was Brad Treliving, hired by the Calgary Flames on April 28. Treliving had spent the previous seven seasons as assistant GM for the Phoenix Coyotes.

This hiring dealt a blow to the Capitals' search because the team's former GMGeorge McPheewas rumored by Craig Custance of ESPN.com (subscription required) to be a leading candidate for the Flames' position.

The Flames chose not to hire McPhee and instead hired Treliving, thus eliminating one more candidate the Capitals could have interviewed.

Next to fall was Ron Francis, also on April 28. The longtime Carolina Hurricanes (and Hartford Whalers) forward was hired to his first general manager position. Francis' hiring was slightly less damaging to the Capitals' search, since he was being groomed to replace former Carolina GM Jim Rutherford.

That was also the case when the Philadelphia Flyers hired former assistant GM Ron Hextall on May 7. Hextall had held the position for one year under former GM Paul Holmgren, who was promoted to team president in conjunction with Hextall being installed as GM.

It's worth noting that prior to his time in Philly's front office, Hextall had spent seven years as the Los Angeles Kings' assistant GM, where he won a Stanley Cup in 2012.

Although Hextall's hiring by the Flyers was expected, it nonetheless dealt a blow to the Capitals' search for a GM.

Case in point: Hextall was the only one of the three aforementioned individuals that was named as a possible GM candidate for the Capitals by Katie Carrera of The Washington Post back on April 26. 

Now the Capitals must retool their search, having lost three viable candidates to teams that moved much faster than they did.

So who's left for the Capitals to pursue?

To answer that question, peruse the following table of remaining GM candidates for the Capitals. Each candidate is listed with his age, current team, position and tenure with the team while serving in that capacity, along with his total experience in the front office:

Washington Capitals' Remaining GM Candidates
Jim Benning50Boston BruinsAsst GM77
Craig Billington47Colorado AvalancheAsst GM44
Jason Botterill37Pittsburgh PenguinsAsst GM55
Julien BriseBois37Tampa Bay LightningAsst GM33
Paul Fenton54Nasvhille PredatorsAsst GM88
Laurence Gilman49Vancouver CanucksAsst GM514
Claude Loiselle50Toronto Maple LeafsAsst GM48
Brian MacLellan55Washington CapitalsAsst GM77
The Washington Post

This list certainly presents the Capitals with some strong candidates.

The two strongest are probably Jim Benning and Julien BriseBois.

Kevin Allen of USA Today Sports wrote of Benning that, "given the respect that the Bruins organization receives, it's easy to see why he might be the No. 1 candidate in the marketplace."

As far as BriseBois is concerned, Allen pointed out that "The Hockey News once named him the top hockey executive under 40." 

Only one candidate really stands out as being especially weak, and that would be Brian MacLellan. Katie Carrera wrote that MacLellan "has a long history with outgoing McPhee – the two were college teammates at Bowling Green – and the Capitals could choose to start fresh." 

Whether the Capitals choose to hire Benning, BriseBois or somebody else entirely, they better get a move on.

Otherwise, they might get stuck hiring a candidate of decidedly lower quality, such as these three individuals tweeted by Renaud Lavoie of TVA on May 12: 

Brian Stubits of CBSSports.com explains the pitfalls of selecting from this trio of former general managers: 

All three GMs were fired this past season with McPhee (Gillis from the Canucks, Regier from the Sabres and Feaster from the Flames). Obviously that means they are available and have experience but that likely wouldn't instill much confidence in the Capitals' fans. At least Mike Milbury didn't make the reported list.

Well said. 

Therein lies the motivation for the Capitals to expedite their search for a new general manager.

Hurry up and hire a quality candidate in the next week or so, or be forced to settle for someone you'd trust about as much as George McPhee to make a wise decision regarding this hockey team.


All news releases courtesy of NHL.com unless noted otherwise.