Hershey Bears Head Coach Todd Nelson Says He is “Really Excited” About Getting To Know the Capitals’ System

Screen cap: @Capitals

Hockey has returned to MedStar Capitals Iceplex, with the Washington Capitals holding their Rookie Camp prior to the official start of the 2022-23 training camp on September 22. Among those overseeing the future generation of Capitals is Hershey Bears Head Coach Todd Nelson, who replaced Scott Allen in July after Allen was tagged as the replacement for former Capitals Assistant Coach Scott Arniel.

The 53-year old Nelson will enter this season as the 28th bench boss in Chocolatetown, although for now he is getting familiar with the Capitals as an organization.

“I think just getting acclimated to everybody here. I know a few players, I coached Dylan McIlrath, I coached Anthony Mantha, Nick Jensen, Kale Kessy is coming to camp, but everybody else is new”, said Nelson during a meeting with the media at MedStar.

“Also I have a new staff myself, it’s a fresh staff, which I’m really excited about. Along with our philosophy, we’re trying to get to know Peter’s [Caps Head Coach Peter Laviolette] philosophy.” Nelson will have the support of Bears Assistant Coach (and former defenseman) Patrick Wellar, who will return for another season behind the bench.

“I like his intensity, think he’s a good skater”, noted Nelson, describing defenseman Vincent Iorio. The Capitals drafted Iorio, a participant in the team’s rookie camp, with the 55th overall pick in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, and he could quite possibly be considered the team’s top defensive prospect. The 19-year old right-handed blueliner is eligible to play Juniors this season, although he could also join the Caps’ American Hockey League affiliate Hershey Bears.

“That’s a decision we’ll have to make going through camp and go from there”, said Nelson, when asked about the prospect of Iorio donning the Chocolate and White, “Like I said, I’m rather new to the organization so we’ll have to see where the pieces fall and what the organization viewpoint is, and we’ll take it day-by-day at camp.”

Despite being a new face to the Capitals organization with a large amount of on the fly knowledge being presented to him, Nelson is still observative of the players with which he is currently working.

“As we go along here and see the players in games, I’ll have a better understanding of what the players are like, and I’m really excited about that.” The Capitals work closely with the Bears’ front office and coaching staff, to ensure the team’s prospects are as best prepared upon their arrival to the NHL.

“I want to see what kind of latitude I have”, said Nelson, “I’ve been with teams where they want to play exactly the same system in the minors, I’ve been with teams where the head coach goes ‘you’ve got your personnel, you figure out what systems work best for you and try to win hockey games’, so we’ll have that conversation after rookie camp’s done.”

By Michael Fleetwood


About Michael Fleetwood

Michael Fleetwood was born into a family of diehard Capitals fans and has been watching games as long as he can remember. He was born the year the Capitals went to their first Stanley Cup Final, and is a diehard Caps fan, the owner of the very FIRST Joe Beninati jersey and since then, has met Joe himself. Michael joined the NoVa Caps team in 2015, and is most proud of the growth of the NoVa Caps community in that time. An avid photographer, Michael resides in VA.
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10 Responses to Hershey Bears Head Coach Todd Nelson Says He is “Really Excited” About Getting To Know the Capitals’ System

  1. He is an experienced coach that has had success at the AHL level. Wishing him a strong start to his career in Chocolatetown!

  2. novafyre says:

    “we’re trying to get to know Peter’s [Caps Head Coach Peter Laviolette] philosophy”

    Simple. Don’t play rookies.

  3. Anonymous says:

    It’s interesting that the Caps/Laviolette haven’t informed Nelson yet he will be running the exact same system in Hershey. Not a big deal, but I would think that might be discussed/conveyed during the interview process.

    • Jon Sorensen says:

      I found that interesting as well. I guess there is time after rookie camp to meet/discuss, let him know Laviolette like’s the same system run in Herhsey. I’m sure Nelson will be around for a day or two of training camp as well before he returns to Hershey. I would think it might have been easier to get on the same page before rookie camp, thus all instruction and guidance is moving in the same direction

      • redLitYogi says:

        one gets the impression the same system rule is observed in the breach. Everything here says to me that winning and success do more good for the players than trying to mimic the big club’s rules. Of course, during call-ups, the players would have to learn a different system but if they’re pros, they should be able to do that.

        • Anonymous says:

          Makes sense, but not how Laviolette runs the show (different under each head coach). Laviolette requires Hershey run the exact same system.

  4. DWGie26 says:

    I think all of that is for the media. Nelson knows exactly what kind of system he is going to run. Lots of smoke and mirrors here. It keeps orgs guessing as to who will stay and go, especially since there are going to be several quality players who likely have to clear waivers.

    Also, didn’t know Iorio could play juniors or AHL. Hopefully he is in Hershey. If someone goes down on the right side for Caps it is going to be interesting to see who plugs. McIlrath? Irwin? Iorio? Not pretty.

    • Dan+Hornbaker says:

      I find comments, the last paragraph anyway to be interesting. Speaking of the “not pretty” to close….

      The Caps have a veteran and arguably their highest rated defenseman in the minors as kind of potentially next up – what do you expect? An NHL all star waiting for someone to get hurt?? Last year folks complaining about the Caps center depth, and I am like they have McMichael’s, LaPierre, Protas…I mean what do fans expect teams to have waiting in the wings???

      I really don’t think I know that much about certain things until I read and listen to what others say and then I am like, nope, I ‘m good.

      • DWGie26 says:

        I probably didn’t explain it well. But i have been the poster child on here about having depth (and competition) as a good thing.

        My comment (which was really intended to be a positive thing) is that Iorio could actually be in line to get NHL time this year. Cool! right side just looks different than left side where we have probably 3-4 guys who can step into Caps lineup for games. We have two on right (including Iorio).

        • Dan+Hornbaker says:

          Gotcha and appreciate the clarification. I think that just comes down to right-handed defenseman seem a to be rare let alone great ones, much like lefty starters in baseball.

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