A Look At Spencer Carbery’s Candidates For Assistant Coaches

With the hiring of Spencer Carbery as the Washington Capitals 20th head coach in  franchise history on Tuesday, the team made a significant statement regarding the future direction of the organization, going with the younger, energetic, but less experienced candidate in Carbery, and passing over the usual seasoned, experienced, well-traveled, candidates.

However, with the hiring the Capitals current NHL coaching experience totals all of four years. That will have to change in the coming days with the hiring of Carbery’s assistant coaches. Here are a few names that could be in the mix, and would add valued experience to the staff.

Todd Nelson – Nelson was a candidate for the Capitals head coaching position but never got a chance to formally interview. It’s questionable if he would leave a head coaching gig in the AHL for an NHL assistant position, but the move would prime him for being “next in line”. The other roadblock to this is the fact that Nelson is already generating discussion in the rumor mill for vacancies with other NHL teams, although the longer the Bears postseason run continues the fewer the openings. Regardless, it’s very possible this is Nelson’s last season in Hershey, but the longer the postseason run, the fewer the outside opportunities.

Ryan Warsofsky – Warsofsky came up through the Capitals farm system, serving as coach and director of hockey operations for the ECHL’s South Carolina Stingrays and was with Carbery in South Carolina from 2013-2016. He was a candidate during the Sharks’ most recent coaching hunt before they opted for David Quinn. They ended up hiring Warsofsky as an assistant coach. Warsofsky won two Calder Cups as a coach in the Carolina Hurricanes system. The first came as an assistant with the Charlotte Checkers. The second was as the head coach of the Chicago Wolves after the Canes switched affiliates.

Bruce Boudreau – This would be a fan-favorite move. Bruce knows the players, Carbery, and Hershey, is good with young prospects as well as veterans, and has managed strong special teams in the past. It seems like a perfect fit, but would Bruce take an assistant coaching job? His head coaching years are likely behind him, but being an assistant is a whole other deal.

Jeff Halpern – This would be another side step, but one that would also position Halpern for the next opening in Washington. The good years in Tampa are rapidly winding down, so it’s conceivable Halpern considers other opportunities at this point in his coaching career. He interviewed for the Capitals head coaching job, so interest in returning home seems to be there for Halpern.

Joel Ward – Ward would be an ideal addition to the Capitals bench next season. He is currently serving as an assistant coach for the Vegas Knights AHL affiliate in Henderson, Nevada, and has filled in as head coach on occasion. This too would be a side step for Ward, but would also position him for the next opportunity in Washington.

Brooks Orpik – The 2018 Stanley Cup champion is already in the Capitals system on a part time basis, working with blueline prospects in Hershey. Orpik is the prototypical model for how to be an NHL player and would be a huge asset on the Capitals bench and in the locker room. Orpik also continues to provide instruction for his alma mater, Boston College. Would he want a full-time gig in Washington, with family separation, etc? It’s up to him, but Caps would love to have him.

That’s just a few of the early names in the mix. There are likely just as many more candidates we didn’t mention. We could see a coach come from Toronto, or from one of Carbery’s other previous coaching stops in South Carolina and Hershey. The Capitals will also likely have a candidate or two for Carbery’s consideration.

Carbery will have his input and the Capitals will have the final say. Regardless, look for the Capitals to add some NHL experience to the bench.

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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23 Responses to A Look At Spencer Carbery’s Candidates For Assistant Coaches

  1. Anonymous says:

    Orpik was the one I thought of first for coaching the D. Instant respect in the room. Has been a de facto coach most of his career.

    • Jon Sorensen says:

      I would be shocked if the Caps haven’t begged Orpik to coach full time. It’s completely up to him, and his family desires.

    • Rich427 says:

      I also was thinking about Orpik. He would command respect in the locker room as you mentioned, but also would be able to work with our very young defense. If he is inclined to take the position, he would be my first choice as well.

  2. novafyre says:

    Don’t see Bruce or Jeff. Some current assistants might want a side move to get out of a situation or to get more or different responsibilities. And Blashill did go from Detroit HC to Tampa assistant. Assistants can concentrate on the players and game more than a HC can. This is also a great opportunity for those with AHL or ECHL assistant and/or HC experience to gain NHL experience. Or even a college HC. I would think it’s a pretty big pool of interested people.

    • Anonymous says:

      I don’t see more inexperience being added. That’s the idea of the post. The Capitals currently have just 4 years of NHL coaching experience on the bench. They need experience.

      • Brant says:

        Our players have so much NHL experience. Do we really need coaches with tons of NHL experience for the resume alone? I’m not buying that.

        • Jon Sorensen says:

          Capitals currently have a total of 4 years combined NHL coaching experience. Are you fine with that? If so, let ‘er rip. It;s more about mentioning and ramping up Carbs as quick as possible. A seasoned vet can teach him a lot.

        • novafyre says:

          I agree. I wanted the HC to have young player experience, HC experience (at any level), playoff experience, and NHL experience. Carbs checks all those boxes. I want his assistants to have task specific talent and experience (player and coach). Don’t have a forward coaching the dmen. If they know the subject, that should translate to any level. What is years of NHL experience going to give them? Rinks aren’t different, rules are basically the same, skills are skills, schemes are schemes.

          Does Carbs need an NHL grizzled vet holding his hand? He’s been a head coach, been in the playoffs, been very successful, and has spent 4 years learning as an NHL assistant. What is he missing?

          • Anonymous says:

            The NHL is a whole other game. You want some experience on the bench to support Carbs. Not just throw him to the wolves.

    • Diane Doyle says:

      I doubt Bruce would want to be an assistant coach. Jeff might take an assistant-ship that had a few extra responsibilities for eventually preparation for head coach.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I think Weller in Hershey will get some attention, but again, no NHL coaching experience.

  4. Brant says:

    I’ve always wanted Carbery as HC and Halpern as Assistant. I think the pull to live in the area is stronger than we think.

  5. Prevent Defense says:

    Recommended reading: Article — “Nelson’s demeanor suiting Bears well” on the main AHL webpage. Author Patrick Williams. Great discussion and player commentary on Hershey Coach Nelson. Why he’s good and the Bears are approaching a chance at Calder Cup

  6. hockeydruid says:

    As much as I would like to have Halpern or Boudreau, I don’t see jeff taking a side ways move or a stepdown in the case of Bruce. From strictly an economical point remember that they lost Trotz due to not being willing to pay a HC for winning the Cup so I don’t see Bruce or Jeff getting tons of money to come here. Nelson would be a great choice especially if you are going to start to bring up the players from Hershey. Between Ward and Orpik, I would rather see Orpik coach the D, providing that he wants to coach and travel a lot. Question Jon: Is Allen staying and is Murry going to be retained as the goalie coach? If Murray doesn’t stay who would they bring in as goalie coach? Ok that was 3 questions. .

  7. Jon Sorensen says:

    Greetings folks! Just a quick note, if you haven’t done so already, please consider subscribing to NoVa Caps posts in the “subscribe” box located in the upper right corner. Thank you!

  8. redLitYogi says:

    Joel Ward would be great just to increase the diversity in the coaching ranks and encourage other people of color to seek those jobs, but as a coach he’s completely unknown to me. As for minority candidates, there are two former players doing TV gigs that present themselves very well. Kevin Weekes and Anson Carter. I’d love to see either get a good coaching gig or a front office job. I’d take Anson Carter to run hockey operations any day of the week.

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