Coaching Change – The Caps on Tuesday announced that they will make a coaching staff change for the 2009-10 season. The Capitals and assistant coach Jay Leach came to a mutual parting of the ways, and Washington will hire a second assistant coach to serve behind the bench along with head coach Bruce Boudreau and assistant coach Dean Evason for the 2009-10 campaign.
Leach joined the Capitals on Dec. 16, 2003, replacing Glen Hanlon as an assistant coach after Hanlon was elevated to the position of head coach.
Leach has also served as an NHL assistant coach with Hartford, Los Angeles, Atlanta and New Jersey. He was the head coach of the AHL’s Springfield Indians and Hershey Bears during the 1990s and also has collegiate experience as an assistant coach with the University of Maine.
Leach also served as an assistant with the AHL Portland Pirates during the lockout season of 2004-05. For most of his tenure with the Capitals, he was responsible for the team's defensemen.
"When we talked to Jay after the season we both felt like it may be time to move on,” said Caps general manager George McPhee. “After a few weeks of reflection, we made a mutual decision that this was the way to go. Jay helped us usher in a new era of success. He's a good man and a good coach."
There is no specific timetable in place for the hiring of Leach’s successor. Caps Land Lancer – Observers in attendance at last summer’s Caps rookie development camp couldn’t help but notice a big center whose dominant presence was noticeable day in and day out during the week’s scrimmages and drills. Today, the Caps signed that hulking pivot, 21-year-old Jake Hauswirth.
The 6-foot-5, 210-pound Hauswirth hails from Merrill, Wis. He had signed a letter of intent to begin playing at Michigan Tech University this fall but will forgo that to turn pro instead.
Hauswirth spent the last two seasons with the Omaha Lancers of the USHL. He helped the Lancers to a league championship in 2007-08, totaling 13 goals and 23 points in 57 games. Last season, Hauswirth racked up 28 goals and 52 points in 58 games. He tied for the team lead in goals and was fourth on the club in points. Hauswirth’s plus-16 was the second best mark on the team and was tops among all Omaha forwards.
Hauswirth will again be in attendance at the Capitals’ summer development camp this July. Bearing Down – For the third time in the last four years, the Hershey Bears have advanced to the AHL’s Calder Cup final. Hershey finished off the Providence Bruins on Monday to take the Eastern Conference championship. That victory sets up a Calder Cup final series between the Bears and the league’s Western Conference champ, the Manitoba Moose.
Hershey will travel to Winnipeg later this week, and the two teams will start their series there on Saturday night. The Bears will stay in town for a couple more days; Game 2 is not until the following Tuesday.
The two teams will then head back to Chocolatetown to resume the series with Game 3 at Giant Center on Saturday, June 6. Game 4 is on June 7 in Hershey and Game 5 – if necessary – would also be in Hershey on June 9. If a sixth and/or seventh game is required, they would be played in Winnipeg on June 12 and 14, respectively. Heading Home – The ECHL South Carolina Stingrays are a couple games into their Kelly Cup final series with the Alaska Aces. The Stingrays gained a split with the Aces up in the far north, and now the series heads back south the Charleston.
Game 3 is Wednesday night at North Charleston Coliseum, as are Game 4 on Friday and Game 5 on Saturday. Should a return trip to Alaska be required to settle the series, Game 6 would be played on Thursday, June 4 and Game 7 would be on June 5.