Jeff Halpern is to be the next Washington Capitals head coach

Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper (r.) talks to assistant coach Jeff Halpern (l.) during the second period of a game against the San Jose Sharks on Feb. 1, 2022 .
Photo: Chris O’Meara (PA)

Five years after the Washington Capitals’ Stanley Cup victory. No playoff series won since. Two head coaches, one internal promotion, and an experienced underdog since becoming champion didn’t work out. And with one of the oldest cores in the NHL, combined with the rest of the league overtaking the Capitals with players Washington traded to take care of previous postseason campaigns, the franchise is in a tough spot because a complete overhaul isn’t possible. Hockey’s greatest crossover story will unfold in the nation’s capital until Alex Ovechkin retires or passes Wayne Gretzky on the all-time scoring list. The Great One is at 894 and Ovie at 822. It took the Caps captain 122 games to go from 750 goals to his current mark, or around 0.6 goals per game. Balancing the Grand Pursuit and overall team resurgence will both require a Master Juggler.

If only there was a native of Potomac, Maryland who spent seven seasons playing for the Capitals and has been an assistant coach for the NHL’s model franchise for the past five years. Of course, I’m being facetious, Jeff Halpern is the DMV insider who would keep the Capitals fan base engaged with his hiring. Halpern was work-related, beyond fan fiction, when the analyst Pierre LeBrun reported that the Capitals planned to interview him as part of the hiring process for their next head coach. He’s got the chops behind the bench and if you want to take on Halpern’s lack of head coaching experience as to why Ted Leonsis shouldn’t hire him, okay, but find me a candidate who would come to the District which is not a little imperfect. The Capitals are a much bigger work in progress to become an elite franchise again than many who are ringing red want to believe.

Halpern has been part of the organization before

Halpern was also Ovechkin’s teammate at two different points in his career, as a promising rookie right after the NHL lockout in 2004-05 and again in 2011-12 when Ovechkin was the best player. of the league.

Halpern weathered adversity with Ovechkin as Capitals captain. He’s been in those locker rooms. Who better to help guide the aging superstar, who will turn 38 the next time he plays in an NHL game, than someone who has played alongside him before? Washington is Ovechkin’s team, no matter who’s at the helm. Why take a path of resistance when someone who knows how to specifically coach the soon top scorer all time is over there?

Washington will do its due diligence and interview a group of candidates. Whoever they bring will be more of a chapter starter than the last three hires. Barry Trotz was brought in capitalize on Ovechkin before he turned 35, which he did, and then he left quickly. Todd Reirden was in the right place at the right time and proved he wasn’t ready to coach an NHL team and Peter Laviolette’s system didn’t work no matter how many injuries the Capitals suffered this season. And hiring someone the franchise would have more patience with is key. So what could be better than a darling rental from Halpern?

Halpern was the first Capital to hail from the DC area and only trying to honor the team’s history isn’t part of the reason he’s such a strong contender. Washington has done it in the past with Adam Oates and Dale Hunter, and couldn’t get past the second round of the playoffs. Times are different now with the unique set of circumstances surrounding the team. And references from either of these men would make a lot of sense now. Who looks the most like them? Jeff Halpern.

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