What would the site Friends in Cold Places be without the word friends? No, not just “in cold places”, that doesn’t make sense. What we love about this site is that we’re all friends. Our hockey team is our friends, other fans of the Washington Capitals are our friends and when players and coaches leave the Caps and face them on the opposition, there’s always special moment where they see their old friends again and there’s no love lost whatsoever. That’s what transpired hours before the Capitals concluded their New York tour in Brooklyn going up against the Islanders and the coach who led them to greatness less than six months ago. While we would’ve loved to see Barry Trotz behind the bench, looking to steer the Capitals ship towards more glory, he ultimately had to do what’s best for himself and his family. We missed him on banner night. We missed him during the highs and lows of this young season but on Monday night, the players got to reunite with him. Continue reading “Barry Trotz, Lane Lambert, and Mitch Korn Reunite with Old Friends and Get Their Stanley Cup Rings”
The New York Islanders announced on Thursday that Caps goalie whisperer Mitch Korn will serve as their new Director of Goaltending. He reunited with old friend Barry Trotz, with whom he has worked with since 1998. His position there will likely be similar to that he has performed with the Capitals this past season, overseeing Islanders goaltender operations, training, and performance.
At the conclusion of the Washington Capitals’ Development Camp, goalie coach Mitch Korn announced that he would be stepping down from his position and turning the reins over to Hershey Bears coach Scott Murray. Will this mean a change in the training philosophy and perhaps even the way in which Braden Holtby and Philipp Grubauer perform between the pipes?
Coaching a goaltender is no easy task. USA Hockey writes about the challenges that extend well beyond just firing pucks at the goalie during practice. It involves teaching the goalie to watch the ice, anticipate the puck, and know when to move high or low to block a shot. It is much more of a mind game combined with a skating skill game. We have all heard post-game reviews that talk about a goalie not having his head in the game.
One of the things that Coach Korn has been able to do is integrate Holtby and Grubauer with the team. They aren’t stand-alone players. He has taught the players how to challenge his goalies in the first minutes of each practice. Mitch always had a core team of guys who helped him work with the goalies. It was about the net minders, not the players. The training is so much more than just stopping slapshots – it involves understanding the players on the opponent teams and expecting the unexpected. He has a reputation for investing in the lives of his goalies, understanding that a coach’s job doesn’t end on the ice, taking into consideration the whole person as a player.
Mitch came to the Caps with Barry Trotz in 2014. He has coached five goalies to become Vezina Trophy winners, including Braden Holtby. He has fine-tuned the skills of Grubi into an elite player with the potential to become a starting goalie in the NHL. We have seen his unique approach to training, using screen boards and angle devices. He is a hands-on coach. One of the things we heard after development camp was how impressed the players were in the time he took with each of them.
Murray, at 35, has some big shoes to fill. He began coaching the Bears goalies, including Grubauer, in 2013. More recently he has coached the likely next generation of Caps goalies, Pheonix Copley and Vitek Vanecek. He has had the privilege of working under the guidance of Olie Kolzig. Scott previous spent five seasons as goalie coach of the OHL’s Sudbury Wolves, He has already spent some time with Korn during camp so the transition to the Caps goalie coach should be relatively seamless.
Murray is one who believes in training his goaltenders to read the environment. He brings with him a history of working to develop players into top notch goalies. In addition to developing goaltenders in Hershey and in the OHL, he worked as a development coach for the RHP Training Centre in Ontario for two years. He is open to using all the tools available to coaches to improve his players. While his philosophy and process may differ slightly from that of Mitch Korn, we think he will be bring something new to improve the stopping power of the Caps goalies.
What’s next for Mitch, who turns 60 this fall? We understand that he will oversee goal-tending operations and serve as a mentor to Scott as he makes the transition. As Director of Goaltending, he will also travel to Caps affiliates in Hershey and South Carolina (ECHL) to work with their coaches and share his years of experience. He will continue with the Mitch Korn Goaltenders and Defensemen Camp to train up a new generation of potential NHL goaltenders. The teach of the ‘goalie whisper’ will continue, even as he pulls back from some of his duties with the Caps. And we imagine he will have much more time back home in NY for more great deli sandwiches!
Dinner at court Deli. Pop Korn used to take me. Corned beef, sour pickles and fried kinish. pic.twitter.com/QK39TmUYhF
— Mitch Korn (@mitchkorncaps) July 7, 2017
Braden is one of the most agile goalies in the league. You know – those amazing splits and twirls when he makes one of those amazing saves that gets our heart pumping!! Underneath the showmanship is a well-trained player with discipline and concentration who is willing to do what it takes to make the save. We don’t expect any of that to go away. We look forward to observing Murray during training camp and Caps practice to see how he interacts with the goalies and what training tricks he has up his sleeve.
Critical to any winning team is who sits between the posts and who ultimately keeps the other team from scoring. This summer we had a chance to see four goalies who might one day be decked out in a red Capitals sweater.
Lets start with Adam Carlson. The 23 year old signed with Washington in 2016 as a free agent and has been playing with the ECHL South Carolina Stingrays. He played in 23 games and recorded one shutout against Atlanta. He initially reported to the Hershey Bears but was sent down to the Stingrays under and Amateur Tryout Agreement under emergency conditions, according to the Stingrays. He will most likely return to Charleston but a door could always open to allow him to get some ice time in Hershey.
Collin Delia has made an impression during his time playing at Merrimack College (NCAA) last season. Not only was he invited to the Capitals development camp – he was also invited to the Blackhawk’s camp. Tells you something about what the scouts see in this 23 year old. He will return to Marrimack as a senior. The door appears to be wide open for his future.
Goaltender Michael Lackey started in six games for Harvard (NCAA) in the 2015-16 season. Before that he was the starting goalie on the U17 team during the World U17 Challenge, according to Harvard and is a USA Hockey National Team Development Program alumi. He is also a local guy – born in Washington DC in 1997. He was sidelined with an apparent hip injury last year. You see during camp just how invested he is in improving his game and giving it his all in the net. Hopefully he will be back on the ice for Harvard and we’ll have a chance to see how his time at home has paid off.
Mack Shields, the Canadian goaltender from U Sports York University, made his mark on the camp. The York Lions said of Shields: ” A big goalie who has a tremendous work ethic and thinks the game well for his position.” We saw that as he seemed to always have the ear of the Capitals goalie coaches during camp. We understand he will be back for rookie camp. Shields will return to York for his sophomore season.
It was great fun getting to see these guys working with goaltender trainers Mitch Korn and Scott Murray. It was a real treat to spend time with Korn who stepped down as the Capitals goalie guru at the end of camp. We look forward to following them and their possible future in the NHL.
The Washington Capitals held day two of development camp on Wednesday, starting with on-ice testing of forwards and defensemen on the Arlington Rink with Coach Dwayne Blais. Meanwhile, the goalies worked out with coach Mitch Korn on the Caps ice.
The prospects began the morning, slowing entering onto the ice and teaming up for their drills. They warmed up and then went through limited speed trials as well as some four-cone drills. You can tell that some friendships are developing as the guys were more comfortable today with one another.
Axel Joonsson-Fjallby, who plays with the Swedish Hockey League, has caught the eyes of many – partly because of his flowing locks but mostly because he plays a fast aggressive game. He was drafted by Washington in the fifth round (#147) of the 2016 draft The 19 year old is expected to return to Djurgarden next season.
Many of the players struggled with the turns on the cones, and that is exactly with the coach wants to see–areas for improvement.
Mitch Korn was encouraging with the goalies, while pushing them to stretch themselves.
We had a chance to talk with Tyler Anderson’s dad who was on hand to watch his son. Anderson is a free agent hailing from the British Columbia Hockey League’s George Spruce Kings. He was pretty excited when he received the call to participate with other elite players in the Washington Capitals camp. He will return to Lake Superior State University in the fall. In the meantime, he is enjoying his time meeting other players and improving his skills at camp.
The boys will be back at it on Thursday morning bright and early at 9:15.
OH GREAT DAY!! Professional hockey is back at Kettler Ice Plex!!
This morning prospects arrived at Kettler for an early skate to demonstrate their talent and learn something from the best coaches around the NHL.
Coaches and drills – that’s the focus!
Defensemen began on the Arlington/Public side. We had a chance to see the newest drafts in action.
Forwards and goalies took over the Capitals Ice. Coach Korn worked with the goalies.
Most of the players here this week will return to their home teams, unless they are selected to join the Hershey Bears. We should see more of the ‘seasoned’ players at training camp.
And of course: goalies!
This morning was more of a ‘get acquainted” type of session. We expect to have a better chance to evaluate the prospects as the week goes forward.
Check back with us later today for Caps Fan Fest and afternoon Dev Camp photos!
By Brittney Marcum
Hockey N’ Heels 2017, hosted by Courtney Laughlin, was in my opinion, much improved from 2016. The previous year the Caps only used one of Kettler’s rinks; however, this year they utilized both, making the sessions much less rushed and giving us time to truly enjoy them.
Once again there were three on-ice sessions, as well as three off-ice. First up, our group (the red group) went to learn about face-offs from the legend Rod Langway. He explained to us how to hold the stick as well as why players get thrown out and replaced at the circle. We had so much fun going against each other and unleashing our inner Jay Beagle!!
Next on the agenda was a lesson in goalie skills from the man behind the beast, Coach Mitch Korn. Mitch explained to us the importance of the different pieces of goalie equipment and gave us directions on how to use them. We even got take a go at playing goalie for ourselves. We also spoke to him about how long goalies really have to react to those pucks flying at them from all angles and his responses were astonishing. He said that goalies watch video of players on other teams shooting so that they know what to expect come game time.
Our last on-ice activity was broom ball with Daniel Winnik and Nate Schmidt. Our half of the group was playing alongside Dan Winnik who explained we really needed to moonwalk while playing as to not fall over on our butts… If you must know I definitely fell on mine. Nate Schmidt was really getting into it which made it that much more enjoyable for everyone involved.Brett Connolly and Philipp Grubauer hosted similar groups on the other side of the ice.
The off-ice sessions included a chat with Chef Robert Wood (SuperFd and Eco Catering) who has an AWESOME cookbook coming out, including recipes from the Caps better halves. The food he cooked up for the evening was delicious[ the shrimp- pineapple skewers were my personal fave! We also got the opportunity to talk with Coach Trotz about his thoughts on how the team is doing and who their biggest competitor is. In case you were wondering he said it was the Blackhawks, and we all know how that went. The third off-ice session was a chat with Caps Alumni Craig Laughlin, Paul Mulvey, and Rod Langway. We discussed the expansion draft and the biggest changes they have seen in the game since they played.
Overall we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and recommend anyone trying it at least one time.
We want your input! Let us know what you thought of the event good or bad!
The Capitals had a full practice this morning and they remained in good cheer. Could it be that practice is sandwiched between a visit to Caps MedStar yesterday and skating with Seth from TAPS after practice today that has put them in a positive mood.
Lets start with our goalies. Coach Mitch Korn started their practice early this morning with a little one-on-one with Holtby.
The team went through normal warmup routines and practice shots.
There were a few odd moments – like what kind of a move was Mojo making? Even Ovie seemed confused.
But then even Ovi had is awkward yoga style shot move…
We know that the coaches are constantly looking at ways to help each player improve their game and today that even included goalie coach Mitch Korn spending time with Ovechkin.
But we have to say that much of what we saw today had to do with the players pushing themselves and pushing Braden Holtby in the net as they prepare for the firepower of the Flyers.
In the end, Hotby looked pretty happy and we are feeling good about the Caps in Philly.
But, the one thing we don’t want to see tomorrow is this:
This has been a season of change for the Washington Capitals. Anyone who has followed the Caps knows about the 2013-14 season under Adam Oates when they failed to even make the playoffs. As good as Bruce Boudreau was during his tenure as head coach, he was never able to lead the team all the way to the finals. Now we have Barry Trotz and his amazing team of coaches instilling something special with the Caps this season.
It takes confidence and respect for players to accept a new coach and his vision. One would have to believe that the boys had lost faith in their coaches some time around 2010. Despite two coaches with great NHL reputations, the Caps leadership was unable to find the right guy to turn things around. As soon as Trotz was relieved of his duties with the Nashville Predators the buzz started in DC about the integrity and stability he might bring to the Capitals.
It is more than the head coach who turned things around. A painful change occurred at the upper levels of management when Ted Leonsis reluctantly sent George McPhee packing in April 2014. Brian MacLellan was promoted from within and Trotz got hired thus beginning the rebuilding process.
The added benefit of bringing Barry Trotz to Washington was that he brought legendary goaltending coach Mitch Korn to work with Braden Holtby as well as Philipp Grubauer. Mitch spent 16 years with Nashville. The “Goalie Guru” told the Washington Times that he didn’t plan to “change” Holtby but rather began to change the strategy at practice to help the goalies become strong defenders of the net. His plan is making Holtby one of the best goaltenders in the NHL.
The Caps have a stellar set of assistant coaches, all who play a specific role in the team’s current success. Blaine Forsythe has been with the Caps franchise for eight seasons and assistant coach for five. Todd Reirden came to the Caps via the Pittsburgh Penguins where he spent his time developing the team’s defensemen into a skilled squad. Coach Trotz leaned on them to transition from a Western Conference knowledge base to the play of the Eastern Conference, according to Alex Prewitt of the Washington Post. These are the two men most responsible for scouting out the other team’s advantages and guiding the Caps to counter the advantage.
Reirden already had a great reputation for bringing out the best in the Pens defensemen, which is part of the reason Matt Niskanen was willing to come to Washington. Forsythe knows his way around the club and his longevity with the Caps led to a smoother transition for the incoming coaches.
Lane Lambert rounds out the coaching squad as part of the Nashville Triad. His focus in Nashville was on the forward and penalty kill (PK). One of the primary goals in bringing Lambert to Washington was to improve their PK. At 84.5 percent, the Caps have the fourth highest PK average in league. They ended 2014-15 with a 81.2 percentage and 14th in the league.
There are many more people who play important roles in keeping the Caps heathy and positively motivated from Chef Robbie who feeds them a healthy diet to the team of trainers and conditioning coaches. This is a new team all around. Most importantly, Coach Trotz has brought a higher level of integrity, accountability and team building to every aspect of their lives, on and off the ice. This team believes they can win the Stanley Cup which is a much needed change from past Caps teams. Any way you look at it, this is team we can be proud of and fans should keep the faith because of the men behind the players, especially Barry Trotz.