Caps Name Assistant Coach
Washington Capitals Head Coach Bruce Boudreau’s named his new assistant coach on Monday and he is a very familiar name to the media and fans: Bob Woods. Woods is fresh off directing the Caps farm team, the Hershey Bears, to the 2008-09 Calder Cup. According to Boudreau, one of the main criteria in the selection was a former defenseman and since Woods is one and is very familiar with the d-men in the organization, especially young players Mike Green, Jeff Schultz, Karl Alzner, and John Carlson, it helped him a great deal. Also, the fact that he has worked with Boudreau before easily made him the front runner. This is Boudreau’s first chance to put his stamp on a coaching hire since he took over in November 2007. A new head coach in Hershey has not been named yet. Here is the official press release from the Caps:
The Washington Capitals have hired Bob Woods from the American Hockey League’s (AHL) Hershey Bears as an assistant coach, vice president and general manager George McPhee announced today.
Woods, 41, served as Hershey’s head coach last season and guided the Bears to a Calder Cup championship in six games against the Manitoba Moose. He was an assistant coach with the Bears and helped current Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau lead the Bears to a Calder Cup title in 2006. Woods was appointed head coach of the Bears when Boudreau was hired by the Capitals on Nov. 22, 2007.
The Leroy, Saskatchewan, native compiled an 83-47-15 (W-L-OT) record in 145 regular season games with Hershey and was 17-10 in 27 Calder Cup playoff games. Prior to joining Hershey as an assistant coach for the 2005-06 season, Woods was the head coach of the ECHL’s Mississippi Sea Wolves from 2001-05 and compiled a 169-94-25 (W-L-T) regular-season record.
Woods was selected in the 10th round, 201st overall in the 1988 NHL Entry Draft by the New Jersey Devils. He played 13 seasons of professional hockey, including 10 in the ECHL and was a player/assistant coach with Mississippi from 1998-2001. He was a member of the 1999 Kelly Cup championship team that was coached by Boudreau. The 1998-99 season was the only year that Woods and Boudreau spent together in Mississippi.
He retired from competitive play after the 2001 season and at that time was the ECHL’s all-time leader in games played with 559 (record has since been broken). He also set an ECHL record on March 14, 1998, as a member of the Tallahassee Tiger Sharks when he fired 17 shots on goal against the Louisiana IceGators. Woods was named second team defenseman on the ECHL’s 15th anniversary team in 2003 and was also named second team defenseman on the Hockey News’ 50th anniversary All-ECHL team in 1997. He scored 176 points in 209 games with Mississippi and the Sea Wolves retired his number in October 2002.
Woods also played for Hampton Roads, Johnstown and Mobile in the ECHL and for Hershey, Portland and Utica in the AHL. He won the 1997 Calder Cup with Hershey, making him involved in the organization’s last three Calder Cups. He is the only player in Hershey’s 71-year history to win a Calder Cup as a player, assistant coach and head coach.
COMMENT: Having interviewed Woods on several occasions since last summer I think this is a good move. Boudreau should be able to bring in someone he is very comfortable working with since he inherited current assistant Dean Evason and former assistant coach Jay Leach. Woods is a very personable and sharp guy and the Caps need someone to help them with their defense, especially the young players. The fact that Woods won the Calder Cup this spring made it easier for him to leave and his goal was to get to the NHL and someday he hopes to be a head coach in the league.
Other Caps Tidbits
The NHL draft is this weekend in Montreal. Round 1 is on Friday night and will be shown on Versus starting at 7pm. Rounds 2-7 are on Saturday starting at 10am on the NHL Network. The Caps currently having the 24th pick in the first round. By the way, for a nice preview of the draft the Caps Media Relations website, Welcome to the Show, has a ton of information. So thanks to Nate Ewell, Paul Rovnak, and their staff for making it accessible to the media and fans.
Also, McPhee said today that he does not think the Caps will be participating in the Winter Classic on January 1, 2010 in Boston. Word has it that the Philadelphia Flyers will be chosen because NBC pushed for them instead of the Caps. The NHL apparently wanted Washington in the game because of the Alex Ovechkin factor – he draws lots of fan interest. Personally I think NBC is making a huge mistake choosing the Flyers over the Caps but the NHL has made a deal with the devil in NBC and are stuck with them.
The Calgary Flames still have not named a head coach yet but all signs point to GM Darryl Sutter hiring his brother, Brent (coached the Devils the last two years), to take over for the fired Mike Keenan. I first brought you this scenario in this blog. While I think Sutter will do a good job, I believe the better hire for Calgary would be to go with Dave Tippett, the former Capitals player who was recently fired in Dallas by new GM Joe Nieuwendyk. I spoke with an NHL scout this week who is very familiar with Tippett and he says he is a good man and a good coach. If Calgary doesn’t hire the former Cap, and it looks like Brent Sutter is their man, some NHL team would be wise to snag him up. As much as I wouldn’t like to see this because he would contend with the Caps, Tippett would be a GREAT fit in New Jersey. Devils GM Lou Lamoriello is still without a head coach since Sutter resigned after New Jersey lost to the Carolina Hurricanes in the first round. Former Devil player and current assistant coach John Maclean has been linked to the job by some media outlets.
Tippett made the playoffs in each of his first five seasons before missing this past year. He led the Stars to two division titles and took Dallas to the Western Conference Finals in 2007-08 before losing to Detroit. However, Tippett was stuck with having to deal with Sean Avery after co-GM’s Brett Hull and Les Jackson signed the whacky forward despite protests from Tippett and several top players including Mike Modano, Brendan Morrow, and Marty Turco. Avery, as everyone now knows and I warned about in this blog last summer, wrecked the Dallas locker room. Tippett not only had to deal with the Avery situation but also a season ending ACL injury to Morrow in November after the team captain only played 18 games plus the Brad Richards wrist injury in February. The Stars turned things around for awhile despite the distractions and injuries but ended up finishing in 12th place, eight points out of the playoffs. I think Nieuwendyk made a huge mistake by letting Tippett go. There will be a GM who will get smart and hire Tippett, at some point, and end up looking like a genius.
Back to the NHL draft, I still think the New York Islanders should take London Knights forward John Tavares with the first overall pick in the 2009 Entry draft on Friday night. The next two projected best players are defensemanVictor Hedman of Sweden and forward Matt Duchene of the Brampton Battalion. However, former Flames GM Craig Button (now with the NHL Network) believes the Isles should pick Hedman because New York needs a top defenseman to go up against guys like Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Ovechkin on a regular basis. Another draft eligible defenseman that I really like is Spokane’s Jared Cowan, who won the Memorial Cup in 2008 and looked like a sure top five pick until he injured his knee last winter. Cowan is big (6′ 5″ and 220 lbs.) and could really skate before his knee injury so it will be interesting to see if he remains a high pick despite possible questions on his health.
This will be an interesting draft weekend as it seems to be one of the few times during the year that trades actually occur. I would not be surprised if McPhee makes a deal to get the Caps either a second line center or a physical defensemen. To me the bigger need right now is a second line center since Michael Nylander appears done and Sergei Fedorov is an unrestricted free agent. The Pittsburgh Penguins are loaded at center with Crosby, Malkin, and Jordan Staal so to compete with them next season Washington needs to get better up the middle of the ice.