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New Assistant Love Eager To Work With Carbery, Join Capitals



Mitch Love looks on during a 2022-23 Calgary Wranglers game. Love was hired as the Capitals' defensive assistant coach on Thursday. (Candice Ward/Calgary Wranglers)

Coaxing Mitch Love to Washington may have been a pipe dream weeks ago, back when the two-winner of the AHL’s most outstanding coach award was contending to be the Calgary Flames’ new bench boss.

But after the Capitals hired Spencer Carbery as their own new head coach, and when Love, passed over for the Flames’ job, sought greener pastures, the 39-year-old had an idea of where he wanted to be.

“When Spencer got this job in Washington, I was intrigued by it,” Love told reporters Friday, “so I was very grateful for the opportunity to speak with him and [general manager] Brian MacLellan and the organization about the position … I’m just really excited, can’t wait to get going and I’m glad it worked out this way.”

Love, fresh off two seasons leading the Flames’ AHL affiliate, was announced Thursday as the first new hire of Carbery’s inaugural Capitals coaching staff. He’ll primarily oversee the team’s defense, a unit that, in part, allowed 3.18 goals per game last season — fairly middle of the road by league comparison.

Among Love’s many focuses is getting the most out of a group of young 20-somethings — Martin Fehervary, Rasmus Sandin and Alexander Alexeyev — who stand to impact the blue line for years ahead.

“They’re young players, some have played 150 NHL games — I think in Alexeyev’s case, he’s played 33 — so they’re still young and being a defenseman in pro hockey and the National Hockey League, it takes some time. It’s kind of like a goaltender, it takes a little bit of time and maturing — it’s a tough position.

“Again, we’ll put together a bit of a plan in terms of how we teach, how we work in practice, making sure our habits are in a good spot, the process throughout the year, but once we get together and I get to know them and they get to know me in terms of how we’re gonna have that working relationship, I’m excited to watch their growth within the Capitals organization.”

The team also returns veterans Trevor van Riemsdyk, Nick Jensen and 33-year-old John Carlson, who was sidelined for 42 games due to injury last season.

I’m very excited to work with him … I’m probably going to learn as much from him as he’s gonna learn from me,” Love said of Carlson. “That’s the beauty of coaching in today’s game, your relationships with the players are so key.”

As a whole, Love’s approach seeks improved mechanics and improved efficiency in the defensive zone through “good details and good habits.”

Love will be with the team in Nashville next week for the NHL Draft before heading to D.C. for the team’s development camp, scheduled for July 1-5.

Jared Serre covers the Washington Capitals for Washington Hockey Now. He is a graduate of West Virginia University.