Love At First Sight: Capitals Assistant Coach Mitch Love Will Enforce Responsibilities On Capitals Blueline

Screencap: Youtube/Calgary Wranglers

Washington Capitals head coach Spencer Carbery rounded out his coaching staff on Jul. 20, when the Caps announced that they will be adding Kirk Muller and Kenny McCudden. Prior to that announcement however, Washington’s first hire to the coaching staff was Mitch Love. 

For the past two seasons Love was the head coach of the Calgary Flames’ AHL affiliate, the Calgary Wranglers, formerly known as the Stockton Heat in the 2021-22 season.

Under Love’s guidance, the Wranglers had a league-best 51-17-3-1 record, and hewon his second consecutive Louis A.R. Pieri Memorial Award, which is given to the AHL’s most outstanding coach. Love became the third coach in AHL history to win the award in back-to-back seasons. Internationally, the 39-year-old bench boss won a Gold Medal as an assistant coach for Team Canada in the 2020 World Junior championship.

But what about his style of play? Under Carbery, Love will work with the Capitals’ defensemen, which is a blueline that has a mix of veterans and youth and struggled with positional play and overall structure last year under former assistant coach Kevin McCarthy. Washington was 18th in the NHL allowing 3.18 goals per game and gave up 596 high-danger chances. 

Drew Ostmoen from the writes,Love often gives out reasonable punishment for poor performance and will change up lines if something isn’t clicking. He’s reportedly great at giving players feedback on their game and will make sure it doesn’t slide. He does this in a demanding but non-aggressive fashion which goes over well with his teams.”

“I take a lot of pride in being detailed,” Love said back in 2018. “I take a lot of pride in my organization. What’s our daily plan look like? What’s that process look like? How are we going to get there? As you guys will come to know over time, I’ve got a ton of personality. I’m passionate about everything I do. I get a little fiery on the bench at times, but I want our players to play with that kind of jam, too.”

Having a detailed-oriented mindset in today’s NHL is critical, especially with talented young players. With defensemen, some lack the mindset of simplifying the game. They try to make a dangerous play with the puck rather than a smart and simple play. 

Looking at the Wranglers defensive stats from last year, they gave up the least goals in the AHL (174) which equates to 2.42 goals-against per game. Furthermore, Calgary had the best penalty kill in the league at 85.1%

The biggest question however is how often he will have the defense jump into the play. Peter Laviolette liked having his defensemen activate in the offensive zone whenever there was open space. That aggressive style led to numerous chances in transition for the opposition and it was not a good style for a veteran team. It seems unlikely with how sound his teams are defensively, but only time will tell. 

Overall, Love seems the type of coach to run Washington’s new defensive structure. He knows how to work with young players, is willing to adjust when needed, has a defense first mindset and a personality that motivates his players. 

“You need someone that’s going to keep you on your toes a little bit — make you laugh, or make you (say) ‘Oh, what’s Mitch going to do today?’ There’s a little bit of that unpredictability, and I think it’s great,” Saskatoon Blades general manager Colin Priestner said. “Personality is huge to getting kids to buy into what you’re doing.”

By Jacob Cheris

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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11 Responses to Love At First Sight: Capitals Assistant Coach Mitch Love Will Enforce Responsibilities On Capitals Blueline

  1. Leslie says:

    Great – about time someone did 🤦‍♀️🤷‍♀️

  2. andrew777dc says:


  3. SoCalSteve says:

    Of course “we ain’t there yet.” The season doesn’t start for a month. But I’m very optimistic that he will succeed, as will Coach Carbery.

  4. Anonymous says:

    The Mitch is back!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Love a little fire for the defense. Back to back coach of the year is pretty impressive. Hopefully with his “not afraid to make changes” Alexyev will get some opportunities if he is working hard.

    I don’t have an issue with a bit more of a disciplined defense, but today’s NHL is about activating the dee and all 5 players are involved in all three zones. Will be interesting to see how Love adjusts to that pace in NHL.

  6. Jonathan says:

    Love it

  7. Anonymous says:

    Having the fourth man — the defenseman in on the rush is about the only way to generate these days at five on five so I hope they keep finding a way to activate the defensemen in the offense. For one thing, it’s more entertaining. For another, our guys at their ages simply won’t generate otherwise.

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