Capitals Announce Changes to Medical Staff

Photo: Pivot Physical Therapy

The Washington Capitals have named Jason Serbus the team’s head athletic trainer, Michael Booi assistant athletic trainer and Cleo Bates massage therapist, senior vice president and general manager Brian MacLellan announced today. 

Serbus replaces Greg Smith, who announced his retirement after 18 seasons with the organization and 24 years in professional hockey as head athletic trainer. Booi replaces Ben Reisz, who left the team after 10 seasons as assistant athletic trainer to pursue other opportunities.

As NoVa Caps reported last week, Smith’s career began in the American Hockey League as the Head Athletic Trainer for the Baltimore Bandits (now the Rockford Ice Hogs), and served in the same role for Team USA at the 1998 and 2004 World Championships. He began his professional career as an intern with the Caps during the 1994-95 season. Smith is a co-founder of Pivot Physical Therapy, a collection of physical therapy clinics in the mid-Atlantic states on the East Coast, and earned his bachelor’s degree in physical education, with a focus on athletic training and special education from Salisbury State University. He was awarded his master’s degree in athletic training (in 1993) from California University of Pennsylvania.

During the 2014-15 season, Smith served in his 1,500th game behind the bench as Head Athletic Trainer and was recognized by the team during a home game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on March 1, 2015. Smith was also selected as the Head Athletic Trainer for the Metropolitan Division All-Star team at the 2017 NHL All-Star Game in Los Angeles.

The Capitals, one of the healthiest teams in the league over the past few seasons, took to social media Tuesday to extend appreciation for “Smitty’s” work over the past 18 years:

“Smitty” took to his Twitter account Tuesday afternoon to thank Ted Leonsis and the Washington Capitals organization:


“We would like to thank Greg and Ben for their service, commitment and dedication to the Capitals,” said MacLellan. “On behalf of everyone in our organization, we wish them both all the best in the future. We are also pleased to welcome Jason, Michael and Cleo to the organization. Their credentials and previous experience make them uniquely qualified to oversee our medical department and the health of our players.”

Serbus, 42, joins the Capitals after spending the past nine seasons as the head athletic trainer for the Arizona Coyotes, where he oversaw all aspects of the team’s medical operations. He worked as an athletic trainer for the U.S. Men’s National Team for the third time in 2017 at the IIHF World Championships in Germany after being with the Men’s National Team during 2016 IIHF World Championships in Russia, and 2009 in Switzerland. Serbus also has served as the athletic trainer for the USA Hockey U-17 team on four occasions.

Prior to joining the Coyotes, Serbus spent three seasons as the assistant athletic trainer for the Tampa Bay Lightning where he aided in all medical training and operations. Prior to that, he spent four seasons with the Pensacola Ice Pilots of the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL). While with Pensacola, Serbus had the honor of being selected as athletic trainer for the Western Conference at the 2004 ECHL All-Star Game. In 2003 he was named “Athletic Trainer of the Year for Professional Sports” by the Athletic Trainers’ Association of Florida.

A native of Bird Island, Minnesota, Serbus has worked with Eisbaren Berlin, the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, the Central Texas Stampede of the Western Professional Hockey League.

Serbus, who is a certified member of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association, the Arizona Board of Athletic Training and the Professional Hockey Athletic Trainers Society, earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls and a Master of Arts degree in Exercise Physiology from the University of Northern Colorado.

A native of Lake Odessa, Michigan, Booi, joins the Capitals after spending last season as the Coyotes’ assistant athletic trainer. Booi spent the previous five years as the head athletic trainer for the team’s AHL affiliate where he oversaw all player related media duties, including one season with the Springfield Falcons and four with the Portland Pirates.

Prior to joining the Coyotes organization, Booi worked for a season as the head athletic trainer for the Greenville Road Warriors of the ECHL and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Booi, also a certified member of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association, and the Professional Hockey Athletic Trainers’ Society, earned his Bachelor of Science degree Kinesiology from Michigan State University and a Master of Science degree in Athletic Training and Rehabilitation from the University of Kentucky.

Bates joins the Capitals after working as a massage therapist with the Dallas Stars for nine seasons, including the 2007 NHL All Star Game. A graduate of the Texas Massage Institute and a state-license therapist, Bates has obtained certifications in several active release techniques, which include active palpation. Bates is certified in ELDOA I, II and III, myofascial stretching and corrective exercise and rehabilitation. Bates is currently participating in the Soma Therapy and Soma Training program with Guy Voyer, DO. In 2015, Bates obtained his message therapy instructors license. Additionally, Bates co-coordinated pre and post-season hockey training camps held at the Legacy Performance Center in Dallas over the last five years.

PHATS-SPHEM bios here.

By Jon Sorensen

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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7 Responses to Capitals Announce Changes to Medical Staff

  1. Jon Sorensen says:

    Thanks Smittty!

  2. Pingback: Capitals Daily Report: Pre-Training Camp Edition | NoVa Caps

  3. Thank you Smitty for all you’ve done for the Caps! You will be missed! Will be weird not seeing him behind the bench this season!

  4. Pingback: Washington Capitals Evening News Links – Tuesday, 9/12/2017 | NoVa Caps

  5. kelli ann says:

    what happened to the previous massage therapist? nothing mentioned…

  6. Thank you Smitty for taking good care of the players. Players’ health and safety depends on a good training staff and he set the standard.

  7. Pingback: Washington Capitals Day With The Stanley Cup: Jason Serbus | NoVa Caps

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