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Capitals wash hands of Cassidy

WASHINGTON -- Coach Bruce Cassidy was fired yesterday by the Washington Capitals, who play the Bruins tonight at the MCI Center and who are mired at the bottom of the NHL standings despite one of the league's highest payrolls.

Assistant coach Glen Hanlon will replace Cassidy. Hanlon joined the staff last season after spending three seasons as coach of the Portland Pirates, Washington's AHL affiliate.

Washington has struggled with an inexperienced defense and also has had trouble scoring despite a lineup that includes Jaromir Jagr, Peter Bondra, and Robert Lang. Cassidy replaced Ron Wilson in June 2002 in a hiring that was seen as a gamble by general manager George McPhee. Cassidy had no NHL coaching experience and the best line on his resume was that he was an AHL coach of the year with Grand Rapids.

Cassidy arrived to find that his in-your-face style did not always mesh with NHL players. The Capitals made the playoffs last season but were eliminated in the first round by Tampa Bay.

This season, Cassidy has clashed with players, but he also had to deal with a severe talent drain. The money-losing Capitals, looking to trim payroll, no longer have defensemen Calle Johansson (retired) and Ken Klee (departed via free agency). Captain Steve Konowalchuk was traded to Colorado early in the season.

The Capitals had some temporary success when Cassidy put Jagr, Bondra, and Lang on the same line. But teams have recently concentrated on shutting down that unit, leaving the Capitals again struggling for goals.

Cassidy went 47-47-9-7 with Washington.

Hanlon was 110-94-29-7 with the Pirates, leading the team to two playoff appearances.

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