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Don Sweeney, Paul Fenton, and The Great One

The Capitals’ search for a new general manager continues, and while the process is pretty hush-hush, some details have gotten out.

Elliotte Friedman’s 30 Thoughts column names several candidates for new Caps GM, including Don Sweeney, Paul Fenton, and Ray Shero. He also mentions that Wayne Gretzky could be brought in to run the organization:

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“The Pittsburgh Penguins are proud to select, out of nowhere, a guy you will never hear from again.” (Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America)

After the Pittsburgh Penguins collapsed against the New York Rangers, some readers suggested that the Caps should hire Dan Bylsma and Ray Shero, both of the Pittsburgh Penguins, should they get fired from their current jobs. In regards to Shero at least, we’re a bit leery.

Here’s one reason why.

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Let’s play a game. I’ll quote from an article, and you tell me if the author is talking about the 2011 Caps or the 2013 Penguins.

For the second straight postseason, [Coach] let the reins slip on his team. In both series, he fumbled and bumbled and finally grabbed them again, only it was too late to guide the wagon train away from the cliff’s edge.

That in consecutive playoff eliminations, the [team] haven’t just lost, they’ve come unhinged.

Guesses?

That’s Greg Wyshynski, the Puck Daddy himself, writing last week about Dan Byslma’s recent struggles, but he might as well have been talking about Bruce Boudreau after the Caps’ 2011 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning in a second round sweep.

Bylsma’s contract would have been up after the 2014 season, so action by GM Ray Shero seemed necessary before the season began. Shero extended Byslma, a move that the Pensblog said makes “unlimited sense.” As they put it before the signing, “If the Pens don’t extend Bylsma, firing him will be all anyone talks about next season.”

Now that Ray Shero has re-upped Bylsma and voiced unwavering support for his embattled coach, we might expect smooth sailing for the Penguins from here on out. But to do that, we’d have to ignore all the eerie similarities between Bylsma and Boudreau– and the not-too-distant memory of what happened to Bruce just a few months after his own GM endorsed him.

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GMGM’s finger-circles: an apt metaphor for his negotiations with Ray Shero.

Jordan Staal maniacally laughing.

Since the offseason began, it has been a well-circulated rumor that Penguins center Jordan Staal wanted to leave Pittsburgh to play with his older brother Eric in Carolina. When he turned down an offer of a ten-year deal from the Penguins, that rumor seemed all but confirmed.

It wasn’t much of a surprise then, when Gary Bettman stepped up to the podium at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft and announced that Staal had been traded to the Carolina Hurricanes for a first-round pick, Brandon Sutter, and prospect Brian Dumoulin. Jordan got his wish (to be on a team which someday may only consist of Staal brothers), and apparently nowhere else was even an option.

This was disappointing news to George McPhee, who identified acquiring a respectable second-line center as a major goal this offseason. Despite landing veteran center Mike Ribeiro from Dallas a half an hour before the draft on Friday, McPhee was sarcastic and abnormally expressive (hand motions, stomping) when asked by the media if he had a conversation with Penguins GM Ray Shero about making a deal to bring Jordan Staal to DC.

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