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Former Hawks assistant Mike Haviland is candidate for Capitals’ coaching job

Chicago Blackhawks assistant coach Mike Havilcenter talks Patrick Sharp left Jonathan Toews during second period Blackhawks' NHL hockey game against

Chicago Blackhawks assistant coach Mike Haviland, center, talks to Patrick Sharp, left, and Jonathan Toews during the second period of the Blackhawks' NHL hockey game against the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2011 in Chicago. Haviland assumed coaching duties against the Wild after an undisclosed illness landed coach Joel Quenneville in the hospital. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

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Updated: July 23, 2012 8:03AM

The Blackhawks aren’t in a hurry to find a replacement for fired assistant coach Mike Haviland. As general manager Stan Bowman said not long ago, ‘‘The important thing is to do it right.”

But now they’re looking to replace a coach who might be in charge of his own bench soon enough.

A league source confirmed Haviland interviewed with the Washing-
ton Capitals for their head-coaching job. It’s thought Haviland is one of the front-runners for the position.

Many of those who have played for Haviland think he’s capable of being a successful NHL head coach.

‘‘I still remember when he came and coached us for the three or so games when Joel [Quenneville] was sick, and we just kept on going,’’ said Florida Panthers defenseman Brian Campbell, who was with Haviland for three years with the Hawks. ‘‘He came in with a great plan. He’s a great speaker and motivator. He was calm.

‘‘I think he’d be great. Hopefully, he does get the Washington job. I know I’m a fan of his. He always had a lot of confidence in me and gave me support, especially when he was coaching the defense. I know he kind of changed positions this year and wasn’t coaching the
defense, but I think he did a great job while coaching the defense.’’

It was Panthers GM Dale Tallon who hired Haviland during his days with the Hawks.

‘‘I hired him out of the East Coast [Hockey] League,’’ Tallon said. ‘‘He did a good job for us in Norfolk and in Rockford. He’s a good coach. He’s innovative, creative, hard-working. He knows the game.’’

Haviland, who was a finalist for the Winnipeg Jets’ head-coaching job last summer, was fired in May after Quenneville agreed with Bowman that there was some ‘‘dysfunction’’ on his staff.

‘‘It’s always a surprise,’’ Campbell said of the firing. ‘‘He did some great things with the organization and the minor-league system. I thought he prepared us in certain situations that we needed to be prepared in. He won a Stanley Cup. That’s something you look at. But obviously something wasn’t working, and they went their separate ways.’’

Haviland has been credited with helping to develop Dave Bolland, Brent Seabrook, Dustin Byfuglien, Troy Brouwer and others.

‘‘Havy was an awesome coach,’’ said former Hawks center Colin Fraser, who just won the Stanley Cup with the Los Angeles Kings. ‘‘I had him for three years as a head coach in the minors. We got along great. He was my favorite coach.

‘‘He’s a player’s coach. I think all the guys respect him. We’ve got nothing but good things to say about Havy. I don’t know what happened with Chicago, but I wish him the best. I think he can be a head guy somewhere.’’

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