The Washington Capitals have announced that they have hired former Capitals defenseman Calle Johansson as an assistant coach. This will be Johansson’s first coaching job
in North America. He served as an assistant coach for Frolunda in the Swedish Elitserien League from 2006 to 2007. In recent years, he has been a hockey commentator for Swedish Canal+. He did both Swedish Elitserien League games and NHL games. While he doesn’t have a ton of coaching experience, anyone who has ever listened to him talk about hockey will tell you that he is very wise and knows a lot about the sport. While he was never the best defenseman on his own team, he was a consistent strong presence and he was dedicated to helping his team win. He should help the blue-liners play as one cohesive unit and help young defensemen Karl Alzner, John Carlson, and Dmitry Orlov develop into much better players. I think he’ll also be great for Mike Green, who at times has struggled to realize how he fits in.
Johansson is the third ex-Capital to join the coaching staff, with Adam Oates as the head coach and Olie Kolzig as an associate goaltending coach. He holds multiple Capitals team records, including:
- Most career games played (983)
- Most assists by a defenseman (361)
- Most points by a defenseman (474)
I expect Calle will coach the defensemen, seeing as how that is clearly his specialty. Considering that Johansson is more reserved, I expect the other assistant coach will be someone more fiery.
Here are some bits and pieces from the conference call interview.
Calle on his favorite moment while playing for the Capitals:
“Definitely 1998 and playing for the Stanley Cup.”
If he ever thought he’d come back and coach for the Capitals:
“Imagined? Yes. Hoped? Yes. Thinking of it as a reality? Maybe, but I’ve always wanted to come back to this organization.”
On why he decided to come back:
“The time was right… the team in Washington is a great hockey team, and has a lot of potential… Some unfinished business for me is that I didn’t win a [Stanley] Cup”
On who he is looking forward to work with:
“I’m looking forward to working with all of them [defensemen]… Looking for to working with the younger guys, as well as Roman Hamrlik… This group has the potential to be the best core of defensemen in the NHL.”
On Adam Oates:
“I’ve always admired Oatesy for his smarts, his intelligence… When you look at the teams that he coached for, he made those players better… you look at Tampa Bay… you look at New Jersey, Kovalchuck become a much better player when Oates was there… I can’t see why he can’t come to Washington and make players better there as well… The energy, the willingness to do something good, and how positive he is, it’s so great to see that… he loves to do this.”
On Adam’s philosophy:
“Adam told me that he does not want to sacrifice any defense to be an offensive team. We want to score, but we don’t want to be a run-and-gun team.”
Tidbits from the Capitals Report Episode with Calle Johansson:
On Adam Oates as a player:
“I think when you talk about Adam… they all seem to be impressed with his offensive game and offensive skills… When you look at the way he played defensively… it’s hard to find any other better player… I think without sacrificing his defensive game, he was a great offensive player as well.”
What is about this blueline core that you are looking forward to working with:
“They are all a talented bunch of defensemen… they pass and move the puck well… they skate well… Lots of potential.”
It sounds like Calle is extremely excited to be back in Washington, and more importantly, back in hockey.