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Monday, June 24, 2002
Updated: June 26, 4:38 PM ET
Only Hurricanes' Maurice younger than Cassidy

Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- The Washington Capitals, looking for a young and aggressive coach, on Tuesday hired Bruce Cassidy, who has never spent a day behind the bench in the NHL.

The 37-year Cassidy -- who will be the second-youngest coach in the league behind Carolina's Paul Maurice -- does not believe inexperience will hurt him, and is determined to show general manager George McPhee he made the "right choice.''

"I don't think that is going to stop what I'm going to try to do which is to win and make our players better players and better people,'' Cassidy said.

When the process started eight weeks ago, McPhee said he had someone in mind but wanted to take a look at a few individuals before making a final decision.

"It started out of a fear of not wanting to fail and not going through a lot of coaches,'' McPhee said. "We wanted to make sure we took our time and found the right guy for the long term for this team.''

McPhee said the ownership was impressed with Cassidy's poise, his relationship with his players and how he crafted a system that worked.

"We asked our pro scouts to submit a short list of people and Bruce was on the list,'' McPhee said. "They said his teams were always well coached.''

Cassidy spent the last two seasons with Grand Rapids in the AHL. He led the Griffins to a division championship and a 42-27-11-0 record in his first year.

He also had coaching stints in the old International Hockey League and the East Coast Hockey League.

Before coaching, Cassidy played 13 years as a defenseman. He was the Chicago Blackhawks' first pick in the 1983 NHL draft. He also played in the AHL, IHL and Europe.

Cassidy, who arrived here late Monday and agreed to a contract Tuesday, said after seeing his name on ESPN, he knew he had arrived.

"I'm anxious, I'm grateful, I'm nervous,'' he said. "I certainly didn't see it coming this year.''

Cassidy replaces Ron Wilson, fired May 10 after the Caps failed make the playoffs. Wilson had a five-year run in Washington, including a Stanley Cup finals appearance in 1998.