Discussion

The road ahead for the Capitals

Why the MacLellan hire was a smart one; big decisions await this summer

Updated: June 5, 2014, 4:11 PM ET
By Frank Provenzano | ESPN Insider

In my new game "NHL Owner for a Day," a choice has to be made to pick the team's next chief strategist, mapping out the vision to return your underachieving club back to its recent past as a playoff contender. You have narrowed the field down to the two candidates below, both of whom are former NHL players. One has the more prolific on-ice career, the other is more experienced in the front office and player personnel side of the game.

If you are the Vancouver Canucks, you opted for Candidate "A" -- Trevor Linden -- who is perhaps the most revered and respected athlete in the history of the province of British Columbia. The move to name Linden as the Canucks' new president of hockey operations and establish a makeover of the face of the franchise was widely lauded as both needed and necessary, despite his relative lack of actual front-office experience.

If you are the Washington Capitals, you went the route of Candidate "B" -- Brian MacLellan -- who sports both a lower-key playing resume and public persona than the higher-profile Linden, but who has more substantial educational and professional NHL management credentials as an MBA, as well experience as a former pro scout, director of player personnel and assistant general manager.

Despite MacLellan's background, Washington's decision was met with a sizable amount of outright media scorn, the best known of which was former Caps' employee and now Ottawa radio personality Shawn Simpson's tweet:

Before I get into my opinion on the hire, and in the interest of full disclosure, I used to work with both Simpson and MacLellan in the Caps' front office during my own time there as assistant GM. Having said that, I also think that Simpson, who has every right to voice his opinion on the matter, took the low road on this particular topic by calling out MacLellan's work ethic on social media a full 10 years after he ever worked with the man. From afar, it looked less like a reasoned hockey opinion and more like a long-harbored, axe-grinding exercise.

From my own perspective, I like the hire of MacLellan and think it is a good fit for a Capitals team that, in my opinion, was the most underachieving squad in the NHL last season.

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