A wild card has come into play with the Washington Capitals coaching search, Mike Haviland, a former assistant coach with the Chicago Blackhawks has emerged as a strong and possibly leading candidate for the vacant position. Haviland was an assistant for the Blackhawks when they won the Stanley Cup in 2010. He was fired after the Blackhawks were eliminated in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs by the Phoenix Coyotes.
Chuck Gormley, Capitals insider for CSNWashington.com, says that Haviland has been interviewed by General Manager George McPhee, but has not been offered the head coaching job. Current Norfolk Admirals head coach Jon Cooper, fresh off a Calder Cup championship, will meet with McPhee this weekend.
Haviland has had a lot of success as a minor league coach, winning ECHL titles with the Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies in 2003 and the Trenton Titans in 2005. He was also named AHL coach of the year while with the Admirals in 2007. His teams reached the playoffs in each of the seven years he coached in the minors, earning a .600 winning percentage in six of the seven years he coached. He helped in the development of many of the Blackhawks' key players.
He also aided the development of future NHLers Brent Seabrook, Duncan Keith, Dustin Byfuglien, Dave Bolland, Adam Burish and [Troy] Brouwer. Haviland was responsible for the Blackhawks' special teams play and defensive schemes and was considered one of the finalists for the Winnipeg Jets' head coaching job last summer. Washington would prove to be a better fit, at least logistically, since Haviland's wife and three children live year-round in their home in Sea Girt, N.J.
If Haviland has that attention on defense, he could be a good replacement for Dale Hunter.