Screenshot: Washington Capitals
The Washington Capitals’ busy offseason ushered in a new chapter of the team in the Alex Ovechkin era, with the hiring of former farmhand Spencer Carbery as the team’s newest Head Coach. The first bench boss born after the team’s inaugural 1974-75 season, Carbery conducted his first day of training camp on Thursday.
As if assembling a coaching staff and getting himself re-acquainted with the organization wasn’t a daunting enough challenge, the 41-year Carbery takes over a team still with Stanley Cup aspirations after missing the playoffs for the first time in nine seasons in 2022-23. Among the weak links needing repair is the once-vaunted Washington power play.
“It’s something we’ve talked at length about, we’ve looked at things and we will continue to”, said Carbery in his first press conference with local media. “Part of what you’ll see through training camp and exhibition games is what we’ve talked about and what we’re looking at. Whether that looks drastically different or whether it looks the same, the work behind the scenes trying to figure out the best way possible to maximize the group has been done.”
While the Caps’ veteran core returns eager for a taste of Lord Stanley, the age and impact of injuries last season is something the new bench boss is mindful of as he looks to infuse youth into the lineup.
“It’s a valid point”, Carbery acknowledged, when pressed on monitoring the ice time of such players, “And that’s something myself as a head coach needs to take into account. And that’s where I rely heavily on our athletic training department and [Head Athletic Trainer] Jason Serbus…and strength and conditioning with Zack Leddon, and that’s the fine line is we need to condition ourselves to play at a real high pace and be able to be extremely competitive…”
“…And how do we get our players up to that and then also without and putting them in vulnerable spots. We’re paying attention to that all the time and we will make decisions throughout the year based on that. Trying to make sure we’re cognizant of workloads, ages…all that stuff will be taken into account.”
Carbery will become the eighth head coach to serve the Caps in the Alex Ovechkin era, and although he has had contact with his players (including his captain) since being hired in June, the former Hershey Bear and South Carolina Stingray is excited to see his new charges’ abilities firsthand.
“…Obviously really excited that the day’s come and now we can just get to work. At the end of the day [that’s what] we as coaches, we want to get into the trenches, and get into the grind and this is the start of it right here, trying to help our group come together, help our individual players, help this group get back to where they’ve been.”
Calling right wing Tom Wilson’s game “unique” and “valuable”, Carbery described his first impressions of Ovechkin who at age 38 will be looking to continue chasing down the all-time Goals Scored record.
“Great energy, love his smile”, exclaimed Carbery, “I don’t know, maybe I haven’t been around him enough in the past to know that that’s him, but he’s just really excited to get going…he’s just so invested in helping this team win that as head coach, especially as a first-time head coach, that’s just great to hear that and see that, and I just go, ‘that’s a pretty special captain’.”
To hear Carbery’s full comments, see below:
“I feel like our guys are in a good headspace of excited to get on the ice and start Training Camp.”
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) September 21, 2023