Calle Johansson is one of my all-time favorite Washington Capitals players. He’s one of the most consistent two-way defenseman I’ve ever seen play and one of the gosh-darn nicest and funniest guys in the world.
That’s why this is so awkward. Around 8:50 PM on Monday night, tucked in between Alex Ovechkin’s media presser and the NHL Awards tomorrow, the Capitals’ Mike Vogel released the news that Johansson will not return next season as an assistant coach. He has stepped down and will be returning to Sweden.
“I’m really sorry,” says Johansson, via telephone from Sweden of his difficult decision. “We really liked it. It was a tough decision, really tough.
“The main reason was that our youngest daughter, Madeline, was going to high school over here in Sweden. And she missed one year, and that’s okay. But she didn’t want to miss any more and she really missed her friends. That was the main reason; so my daughter could go back to school in Sweden with her friends. That’s it.”
Under Johansson’s two years behind the bench, the Capitals defensive corps hemorrhaged goals like candy from a beaten piñata. The whole danged former-Caps-coaching-triumvirate of Adam Oates, Olie Kolzig, and Johansson was a marked failure. The Caps couldn’t hold leads and did not play anything resembling a team defense. They missed the playoffs for the first time in seven years.
A lot of our commenters look at Johansson’s coaching performance like this: the team’s defense was bad, therefore the coach in charge of the defense was bad, and therefore he deserves all your rage.
I don’t think it’s that simple.
Consider a few things out of Johansson’s control.
Then let’s look at things Johansson could control.
Actually, all Caps defenders rallied around Johansson’s work as coach, while other players struggled to do the same for Adam Oates.
So, sure, Johansson was a part of the team’s disappointing season and many fans will see him as the escape goat. I understand that. I personally don’t think he was a bad coach, and I sure hope this isn’t the last I see of him.
He will always be one of the greatest Capitals of all time. The team should invite him to the Winter Classic Alumni Game. I would be excited to see him again.
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