While the Stanley Cup Finals were going on Wednesday night in New York, TSN’s Darren Dregger reported that Former Hockey Canada president and CEO Bob Nicholson was talking to NHL teams about executive-level positions. The Hockey News Reporter Ken Campbell later tweeted that he was “told Bob Nicholson has offers from Washington, Edmonton and Vancouver to be CEO,” with “Washington offering the most money.”
It’s early in the offseason and there’s not a whole lot of substantial news to debate, so it’s still important to take such reports with a grain of salt. However, these reports have potentially significant implications for the Capitals, if true. It could mean one or both of the following things:
1) The Capitals still believe there is work to be done on the front office, and that the promotion of Brian MacLellan to General Manager may not be the end of the re-shuffling. Does MacLellan have the ultimate say in terms of talent acquisition, drafting, free agency, coaching decisions, player development, etc? Or, does ownership want someone with more experience overseeing all moves? One way or another, these reports indicate that Capitals management including owner Ted Leonsis and perhaps COO Dick Patrick are still looking for a final piece in the front office.
2) It may also be an acknowledgement from Leonsis that he was too heavily involved with GM George McPhee’s decisions. Reports from Mike Vogel’s exit interview with McPhee indicated that Leonsis pushed to acquire Jaromir Jagr over a decade ago when the Capitals pulled off what was, at the time, an earth-shattering trade that ended in disappointment. Granted, it’s been many years since that trade occurred, but one can’t help but wonder how involved Leonsis has been in major decisions since the start of the Ovechkin era.
If MacLellan’s opening press conference is any indication, he of all GM candidates was the most critical of Leonsis. Perhaps one of the criticisms was that there needs to be an additional layer between ownership and hockey operation in the form of someone like Nicholson with a deep hockey background.