Updated 2:55 p.m.: Video coach Blaine Forsythe will replace Tim Hunter as Capitals assistant coach, taking on additional duties behind the bench next season General Manager George McPhee said Monday.
Forsythe, 37, originally joined the Capitals as a video coach in 2006-07 and is entering his seventh season in Washington. McPhee said that Forsythe will continue to handle the team’s video preparation but that the Calgary native will now be behind the bench during games and have a greater hand in practices.
“Blaine’s got a real good feel for the game, terrific hockey sense and sees things and understands things and can break them down and explain them to players real well,” McPhee said. Coach Adam Oates “got him doing a few practices this year and gave him a lot of responsibility throughout the year with the power play and different things, so he’s going to give him more responsibility this year.”
Forsythe said he and Oates had a quick connection from when they first sat down to talk strategy prior to last summer’s development camp. They approach the game in a similar manner, were comfortable sharing opinions on any issue that would arise and got along well away from the rink.
Still, Forsythe admitted he was somewhat caught off guard when Oates put him in charge of the power play a few days before the season began. Under his direction last year, the Capitals’ power play was ranked first in the NHL with a 26.8 percent success rate
“With a guy like him and his offensive pedigree as a player, and as a coach that’s been his niche but he gave me the opportunity to run that,” Forsythe said in a phone interview Monday afternoon. “As a team having success with it at the start of the year was the biggest thing that gave me the confidence that I belonged and helped me progress in that role…He let me run it the way I saw fit, with his guidance, and luckily for me and for us it worked out.”
Forsythe said he and Oates have yet to discuss what his additional responsibilities will be next season, but he expects to work with the forwards throughout a game in addition to continuing his efforts with the power play.
As expected, Hunter, 52, will not return to Washington. Brought in to add experience behind the bench in 2012-13, it became clear that the long-time NHL assistant and Capitals were ready to part ways.
“We basically hired him to have some experience on our bench because Adam and [assistant coach Calle Johansson] were green and it worked well,” McPhee said. “But at this point he and adam think that we should go in different ways.”
The Capitals will not make any additional hires following Forsythe’s promotion and Hunter’s departure, McPhee said. Video coach Brett Leonhardt will continue in the same position.