If the Oil Want Norfolk's Cooper, They Now Have Competition

If the Edmonton Oilers are interested in Norfolk Admirals coach Jon Cooper, it looks like they officially aren't the only ones.

Stephen Whyno of the Washington Times has done a piece today on the Washington Capitals keen interest in Cooper's future, citing conversations George McPhee and Cooper have had dating back to 2010.

Are these conversations recent? Apparently not.

Have they talked specifically about the vacant Caps coaching job? No, it doesn't seem that way.

But, it also seems that their brief meeting at the 2010 NHL draft was enough for them to consider keeping an eye on one another.  They have, and Caps GM McPhee has a history of hiring coaches without NHL experience, bringing Bruce Boudreau Bruce Cassidy, Glen Hanlon and most recently Dale Hunter into the fold.

Since none of the above coaches have brought a cup to Washington, would this be the time McPhee changes things up and steers away from his recent trends of AHL hires and instead bring in an NHL vet like Marc Crawford, Tom Renney or John Stevens? Maybe, but logically one might have thought new Oilers Vice President of Hockey Operations Craig MacTavish name would have popped up on McPhee's radar. MacTavish admits, he'd heard he might get a call, then never did.

I don't assume we should read into the MacTavish brush off that McPhee has been waiting for Cooper, but I don't suggest the Oilers ignore the possibility.

Considering McPhee's options and willingness to make big moves, for an Oiler management team that has a tendency to wait around, if they have their eye on the prize, sooner than later is time to play their hand.

The question becomes how long can they wait?

Well for now, Cooper is far too busy celebrating and traveling having just led his team to the AHL's Calder Cup. There is usually a short grace period that allows for a coach to bathe in the glory of a well deserved victory. But that won't last long if Cooper wants to take advantage of a golden window available to him.

The good news for Oilers fans, is that while the Caps may have interest in Cooper and Cooper would love an interview, the Norfolk coach sees all roads available. Meaning, Cooper is aware that Washington might have interest, but Cooper also knows about Edmonton's vacancy and has some interest in the Oilers future. Whyno quotes Cooper's understanding of the Oilers as, "look at one franchise that has been struggling in the the standings a little bit but is just pulling up No. 1 draft picks who looks like in the next few years is ready to take off". "I think, a great situation to go to."

Is it possible, a coach with no NHL experience could have two teams hoping he chooses them? We don't know where the Oilers head it as right now, but the possibility could strongly exist.

Cooper also understands how hot a commodity he is right now. This above any other time may be the time to cash in his chips having built such a nice resume, missing only NHL experience, in such a short time frame. If he were to ever consider an NHL jump, now is that time. Cooper is an educated man. He realizes that a window or "grace period" might exist more in Edmonton than in Washington. It might be nice when your first NHL job has some security with it.

In the end, it appears as though Washington wants Cooper. Cooper likes Washington, but might want to consider Edmonton. Edmonton is not tipping their hand at all.

Should be very interesting to see how this all unfolds.


If I was a potential coach and everything being equal no city preference, I would choose the Oilers , because of it's youth I could be an integral part of shaping this team.

June 13, 2012 at 10:30 AM comment-delete

I think I'd agree. In Washington, you have Ovechkin, who is great, but has had a small history of conflict with his coaches (not ideal for your first job), you have a team that absolutely has to be great to keep your job (they have been on the playoff bubble or in them for years now), and a an older team not perhaps as willing to be shaped (although I have no evidence of this).

With the Oilers, you have a bit of job security if you're anywhere close to meaningful games in April, a young team which you're used to, and a team on the rise that could mean longevity.

June 13, 2012 at 12:12 PM comment-delete

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