The Washington Capitals made their first hire to join Spencer Carbery’s coaching staff on Thursday when they brought in assistant coach Mitch Love to handle the team’s defensemen.
Love spoke with assembled DC media for the first time on Friday. The 39-year-old, two-time AHL coach of the year discussed a variety of topics including his familiarity with a few names in the Caps organization that just took home a Calder Cup with the Hershey Bears.
“The closest connection I have to players that have kinda spent a little in Washington is Connor McMichael,” Love said. “I worked with him in two World Juniors here in Canada. Couple [others], Garrett Pilon and Riley Sutter in Hershey are guys I coached in junior in Everett. But, outside of that, no familiarity. I’ve had a few players reach out to me which is very classy and very appreciated. Can’t wait to touch base with everybody and get to know everybody here as we get closer to training camp.”
Love was an assistant coach on Canada’s gold-medal winning team at the 2020 World Junior Championship and held the same role at the 2021 tournament, winning a silver medal. McMichael was an alternate captain on that team when they lost to Team USA in the 2021 tournament. He also scored and assisted in the 2020 gold-medal winning game.
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As an assistant with the WHL’s Everett Silvertips, Love coached Sutter for four seasons (2015-19) and Pilon for half of the 2017-18 season after a mid-season trade. Love’s last season in Everett before becoming head coach of the Saskatoon Blades was that 2017-18 campaign and he helped lead the team to the WHL Finals where they lost in six games to the Swift Current Broncos.
Those three players are all forwards though and Love’s responsibilities with the Caps will center on the team’s blueline. There, Love will be at the helm of a backend that looks like it will feature three, 23-year-old defensemen in prominent roles.
Love was asked how he’ll try to maximize Rasmus Sandin, Martin Fehervary, and Alex Alexeyev moving forward.
“I’ve watched bits and pieces of their game later in the season when I was going through this process to get my bearings under me on the defense there in Washington,” Love started. “They’re young players. Some have played 150 NHL games. In Alexeyev’s case he’s played 33. They’re still young and being a defenseman in pro hockey in the NHL it takes some time and maturing. It’s a tough position.
“We’ll put together a bit of a plan in terms of how we teach, how we work in practice, making sure our habits are in a good spot, and process throughout the year,” he continued. “Once we get together and I get to know them and they get to know me in terms of how we’re going to have that working relationship. I’m excited to watch their growth within the Capitals organization.”
Love is rolling his sleeves up and getting started in quite short order as he plans to be in attendance at next week’s draft and in town for July’s Development Camp.
Headline photo: Elizabeth Kong/RMNB
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