ARLINGTON, Va. — Entering the season with a new bench boss isn’t foreign to the Washington Capitals.
Eleven days after the team’s 2018 Stanley Cup win, head coach Barry Trotz was out the door. Todd Reirden, who lasted two years, was shown the door in 2020 and replaced with Peter Laviolette, who himself left the team earlier this offseason.
But with the 41-year-old Spencer Carbery guiding the ship, the atmosphere on the ice at MedStar Capitals Iceplex feels different.
“I think his energy, his passion, his excitement, you feel it in the group,” winger Tom Wilson said. “I can only speak for our group out there, but guys are flying around the ice competing hard. He just has that presence that you want to wake up, you want to put in the work. Just a youthful kind of excitement.”
Goalie Darcy Kuemper, entering his second season in Washington, echoed Wilson.
“Getting to know him a little bit the last little few weeks or so before camp here and just seeing him around, you can sense his energy right away and that translates right away onto the ice,” Kuemper said. “I think it was contagious throughout the group. The guys were competing in every drill every shift out there, and I think that started with him and it was great to see.”
Head coach Spencer Carbery walking through something on the whiteboard. pic.twitter.com/lFyzvligz9
— Jared Serre (@JaredSerre) September 21, 2023
Carbery is tasked with returning the Capitals to the playoffs, something the team failed to do for the first time last season since 2014. While the team’s roster will mostly remain the same headed into the new season, Carbery’s new staff stands to have the biggest impact on the team’s success.
Carbery’s first hire was Mitch Love, a 39-year-old coming off back-to-back seasons as the top head coach in the AHL. Focusing on a balance between youth and experience, Carbery also added 57-year-old Kirk Muller (power play) and 61-year-old Kenny McCudden — joining 57-year-old Scott Allen (penalty kill), a holdover from Peter Laviolette’s staff.
“Every time a new coach came in, there (are) new rules, there (are) new drills, there is new stuff. But I feel like from conversations that I had (with) coach this year, I think there is a perfect match to our players that we have, and I feel like we have everything to be successful,” center Evgeny Kuznetsov said. “We just have to make sure that we get together, we create some chemistry and play the way he wants us to play.”
The Capitals will play their first game, albeit in the preseason, Sunday against Buffalo. They’ll play a total of five preseason games before opening the regular season Oct. 13 against Pittsburgh.