The Nashville Predators have found a new head coach for the Milwaukee Admirals, their AHL affiliate, as Dean Evason has been named to the job today. Evason has spent the last seven seasons as an assistant coach with the Washington Capitals, and this will represent his highest head coaching position after a few stints with junior hockey teams. Since the Caps are currently conducting a head coaching search after the departure of Dale Hunter, Evason's future in Washington was in doubt.
Assistants Dean Evason and Jim Johnson were both considered, at least early on in the process, candidates to fill the Washington Capitals' head coaching vacancy. What remains of their respective futures with the organization remains to be seen.
Asked Thursday whether Evason and Johnson will return, general manager George McPhee seemed to indicate they won't be back. But he didn't shut any doors.
A veteran of 803 NHL games with five different teams (a career which began with the Capitals while David Poile was the GM), the former center out of Flin Flon, Manitoba takes over from Ian Herbers, who left a few weeks ago to head up the University of Alberta's program.
Here's what Ryan Miller has to say at Admirals Roundtable (follow that link for much more on Evason, including video):
"Seven years with the same team as an assistant? That was the 2nd longest assistant coach tenure with one team in the league....behind Peter Horachek in Nashville.
He was an assistant under three different head coaches in Washington. To be retained by new leadership I think says something about how valuable he was to the team. Bruce Boudreau could have cleaned house when he arrived, or during the following off-season. Dale Hunter could have cleaned house when he arrived. But Evason made himself essential."
So what do you think, folks? Following the jump, you'll find the Preds' press release...
Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced today that Dean Evason has been named the 20th head coach of the team's primary developmental affiliate, the American Hockey League's Milwaukee Admirals.
"Dean Evason brings the knowledge, insight and expertise of 20 years of NHL playing and coaching experience to the organization, and we are excited to have him guiding our young players and prospects as our development coach," Poile said. "Given his success working with a diverse group of players and coaches, and his ability to alter his style to their strengths, we feel our young players and prospects are in great hands."
Evason, 47 (8/22/64), has spent seven seasons as an assistant coach with the Washington Capitals, helping them claim four straight Southeast Division titles, reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs in each of the past five seasons (2008-12) and win the 2010 President's Trophy.
In his time as an assistant in Washington from 2005-12, the Capitals compiled a 294-206-74 record (.577). Evason's responsibilities included face-offs (helping the Caps finish among the NHL's Top 10 five times in his seven seasons), the penalty kill (which finished as high as second in the League under his watch (2010-11)) while also being in charge of the team's forwards.
Prior to joining the Capitals, the Flin Flon, Man., native spent six seasons as a head coach in the Western Hockey League. He began his coaching career with the Kamloops Blazers - where his roster included Predators 2002 first-round pick Scottie Upshall - compiling a 109-83-17 record in three seasons from 1999-2002. Evason moved on to guide the Vancouver Giants to back-to-back playoff appearances in 2002-03 and 2003-04, before co-coaching the Calgary Hitmen to a 34-23-9-6 record in 2004-05 on a team that included NHL stars Andrew Ladd and Ryan Getzlaf.
Washington's third selection, 89th overall (third round), in the 1982 Entry Draft, Evason amassed 372 points (139g-233a) and 1,002 penalty minutes in 803 NHL games with the Capitals, Hartford Whalers, San Jose Sharks, Dallas Stars and Calgary Flames from 1983-96. This included a pair of seasons playing under then-Washington General Manager David Poile (1983-85) and three seasons as a teammate of Predators Assistant General Manager Paul Fenton in both the Hartford (1984-86) and San Jose (1991-92) organizations. An honored member of the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame, he served as a player/coach for Team Canada during the 1996-97 season, captaining the team to a gold medal at the 1997 World Championship. He wound down his career as a player/coach with Landshut of the German League in 1997-98 and 1998-99.