Perhaps the biggest reason for the Capitals' loss to the Islanders was New York's ability to identify a gameplan that gave them the best chance to win, and they executed it to perfection, knocking Washington out of the first round in five games.
In order to pull that off against a highly-skilled team like the Caps, it takes strategy, buy-in from the players and discipline within the scheme. Todd Reirden's group failed to do that, so he was relieved of his duties as Capitals head coach shortly after their season ended.
As the Caps continues to search for their next head coach, finding someone who can do what their former coach Barry Trotz did to them with the Islanders is presumably the goal. As Alan May explained to "The Sports Junkies" Tuesday morning, it'll start with experience.
"I would think it's going to be someone who's been on the bench 15-20 years that has honed his craft, that the players instantly and automatically respect and can adapt to the team that's in front of him," May said.
The names that keep popping up in this head coaching search are Peter Laviolette, Gerard Gallant and Mike Babcock, who have a combined 44 years of head coaching experience in the NHL. It's hard for a team not to play hard for a coach who's been in the league as long as those three have, which is key in building a culture on a team like the Capitals with its fair share of veterans.
"To me, I think it'd have to be an older guy that's been around a long time that can command a lot of respect," May said.
Each of those three coaches come with their warts, of course. You can't be exposed to NHL competition for that long and come away spotless. Laviolette doesn't figure to be a long-term solution at the position, Babcock would probably have to revise his method of communication with this particular team and Gallant has proved to struggle with adjustments.
"Gerard Gallant to me is a guy that, you know was fired twice after really good seasons, to me, his team really didn't adapt to the Capitals when they played in the Stanley Cup Final," May said. "It was the easiest series [the Caps] had that postseason."
There's still time for the Capitals to find a new leader on the bench and there's a decent chance more coaches will become available before the playoffs end. As of now though, there seems to be a common theme in who people think the Caps should consider.
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MORE CAPITALS NEWS:
- Reirden Out: Why Caps fired him
- Gerard Gallant: The perfect fit?
- Trotz negotiations: Caps GM disappointed