The Washington Capitals lost a number of critical players due to free agency, the expansion draft, and a salary dump over the offseason. They also have seen several important staff members depart behind the scenes as well, including former Director of Game Entertainment Michael Wurman.
Tuesday afternoon, the Capitals announced that head athletic trainer Greg Smith has retired. Assistant athletic trainer Ben Reisz, a veteran of ten seasons with the Capitals, is also leaving the team to purse other opportunities.
A post shared by Greg Smith (@smittycaps) on
Smith, affectionately known as Smitty, spent 18 seasons with the Caps, including the entire Ovechkin Era in DC. Smith was invited to the 2017 All-Star Game last season as part of the Metropolitan Division All-Stars.
Let the fun begin pic.twitter.com/rLDHalzqPF
— Greg Smith (@Smittycaps) January 28, 2017
— Greg Smith (@Smittycaps) January 29, 2017
— Greg Smith (@Smittycaps) January 30, 2017
Smith announced his departure from the organization several weeks ago in a Twitter profile update: “Former-Head Athletic Trainer- Washington Capitals 1999-2017; Owner-Pivot PT.”
Smith called retiring “a hard decision” and thanked owner Ted Leonsis in a tweet.
— Greg Smith (@Smittycaps) September 12, 2017
Per CSN Mid-Atlantic’s Tarik El-Bashir, Smith’s contract actually ended in June, but he stayed on during the summer to help with the transition.
Although Smith's contract expired in June, he stayed around this summer to assist in the transition to Serbus and Co. #Caps
— Tarik El-Bashir (@TarikCSN) September 12, 2017
“It’s been a great 18 years behind the bench in Washington, and unfortunately I made the hard decision to reconnect and spend more time with the family,” Smith told CSN. “I haven’t missed one of my kids’ sporting events this summer.”
A post shared by Greg Smith (@smittycaps) on
Smith owns Pivot Physical Therapy, which has 245 locations in six different states (plus DC).
“Physical therapy is more about the relationship between really great people that care about you and want to make you better,” Smith says in a promotional video on the PPT website. “We want to help people succeed at their goals. Sometimes it’s getting back on the athletic field, sometimes it’s just getting back in the game of life and being able to play with their grandkids or walk the shopping malls.”
Under Smith’s guidance last season, the Capitals were the healthiest team in the league. Smith also helped Alex Ovechkin deal with two painful lower-body injuries during the postseason and keep him on the ice.
“We would like to thank Greg and Ben for their service, commitment and dedication to the Capitals,” Capitals GM Brian MacLellan said in a statement. “On behalf of everyone in our organization, we wish them both all the best in the future.”
— Greg Smith (@Smittycaps) February 18, 2017
Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin tweeted a photo posing with Smith after scoring his 500th goal, saying “u huge part of all we do n we never win without u!!”
— Alex Ovechkin (@ovi8) September 13, 2017
Forward Tom Wilson also posted a thank you to Smith.
Thank you @smittycaps and @breisz for everything you have done. Two of the "behind the scenes" guys, your hard work and commitment to the team day in an day out was second to none. It was an absolute privilege to have you two guys looking after me and the boys over the years and you will be missed. Congratulations on 18 seasons with the Caps Smitty and 10 seasons Benny. See you soon.
A post shared by Tom Wilson (@tom_wilso) on
“Two of the behind the scenes guys, your hard work and commitment to the team day in an day out was second to none,” Wilson said.
In the release, MacLellan also announced the hiring of former Coyotes trainer Jason Serbus as the team’s new head athletic trainer, while Michael Booi, previously of the Coyotes as well, will be the new assistant athletic trainer. Cleo Bates, formerly of the Dallas Stars, will be the team’s new massage therapist.
More from the Capitals:
The Washington Capitals have named Jason Serbus the team’s head athletic trainer, Michael Booi assistant athletic trainer and Cleo Bates massage therapist, senior vice president and general manager Brian MacLellan announced today.
Serbus replaces Greg Smith, who announced his retirement after 18 seasons with the organization and 24 years in professional hockey as head athletic trainer. Booi replaces Ben Reisz, who left the team after 10 seasons as assistant athletic trainer to pursue other opportunities.
Serbus, 42, joins the Capitals after spending the past nine seasons as the head athletic trainer for the Arizona Coyotes, where he oversaw all aspects of the team’s medical operations. He worked as an athletic trainer for the U.S. Men’s National Team for the third time in 2017 at the IIHF World Championships in Germany after being with the Men’s National Team during 2016 IIHF World Championships in Russia, and 2009 in Switzerland. Serbus also has served as the athletic trainer for the USA Hockey U-17 team on four occasions.
Prior to joining the Coyotes, Serbus spent three seasons as the assistant athletic trainer for the Tampa Bay Lightning where he aided in all medical training and operations. Prior to that, he spent four seasons with the Pensacola Ice Pilots of the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL). While with Pensacola, Serbus had the honor of being selected as athletic trainer for the Western Conference at the 2004 ECHL All-Star Game. In 2003 he was named “Athletic Trainer of the Year for Professional Sports” by the Athletic Trainers’ Association of Florida.
A native of Bird Island, Minnesota, Serbus has worked with Eisbaren Berlin, the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, the Central Texas Stampede of the Western Professional Hockey League.
Serbus, who is a certified member of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association, the Arizona Board of Athletic Training and the Professional Hockey Athletic Trainers Society, earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls and a Master of Arts degree in Exercise Physiology from the University of Northern Colorado.
A native of Lake Odessa, Michigan, Booi, joins the Capitals after spending last season as the Coyotes’ assistant athletic trainer. Booi spent the previous five years as the head athletic trainer for the team’s AHL affiliate where he oversaw all player related media duties, including one season with the Springfield Falcons and four with the Portland Pirates.
Prior to joining the Coyotes organization, Booi worked for a season as the head athletic trainer for the Greenville Road Warriors of the ECHL and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Booi, also a certified member of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association, and the Professional Hockey Athletic Trainers’ Society, earned his Bachelor of Science degree Kinesiology from Michigan State University and a Master of Science degree in Athletic Training and Rehabilitation from the University of Kentucky.
Bates joins the Capitals after working as a massage therapist with the Dallas Stars for nine seasons, including the 2007 NHL All Star Game. A graduate of the Texas Massage Institute and a state-license therapist, Bates has obtained certifications in several active release techniques, which include active palpation. Bates is certified in ELDOA I, II and III, myofascial stretching and corrective exercise and rehabilitation. Bates is currently participating in the Soma Therapy and Soma Training program with Guy Voyer, DO. In 2015, Bates obtained his message therapy instructors license. Additionally, Bates co-coordinated pre and post-season hockey training camps held at the Legacy Performance Center in Dallas over the last five years.
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