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