They had been together since the beginning, colleagues in Nashville from the first day of the expansion franchise, so when Barry Trotz became the new head coach of the Washington Capitals, it took only a couple weeks before Mitch Korn joined him. “It was time to make a change,” Korn, the longtime goaltending coach, told The Tennessean in his only public comments since news broke Thursday that the Capitals would hire him in the same capacity. “It was a great 16 years, but I felt that the company line is to stay with Barry.”
It appears that former goaltending coach Olie Kolzig will remain with the organization in some capacity, perhaps a part-time role or something similar to the old position he held as associate goaltending coach, working with minor-league prospects. But Korn brings 15 seasons of experience under Trotz, nearly a quarter-century in the NHL overall, a track record of pupils blossoming under his guidance and, as it turns out, an arsenal of training props.
At the website for Korn’s goalie camps — seven four-day summer sessions across the country — is a list of his tools. Most were household items flipped into whatever Korn felt would hone the varying skills demanded by the position. Plywood and a blanket turned into a screen board one foot off the ice, to rocket shots through the sliver of space beneath it. Somehow, they found an “unbreakable mirror” for “feedback…more immediate than video tape.”
There are also mini pucks, a mesh bag called a “focus enhancer,” a blindfold and white pucks that camouflage into the ice. Don’t know how common all of these are among goalie coaches, but if you happen into Kettler Ice Complex one afternoon for practice and see a blindfolded Braden Holtby staring into an unbreakable mirror or snatching pucks the size of Reese’s cups, you’ll know what that’s all about.
The Tennessean made note of all this in its follow-up to Thursday’s news, including a tidbit about a former Capitals goalie:
His methods may have seemed somewhat unconventional — black boards, white pucks, medicine balls and the like — but they worked.
He even played amateur psychologist with Tomas Vokoun, realizing the Czech netminder had obsessive compulsive disorder, and making sure he was put under the right type of care.
In related news, Trotz refers to Korn’s students as “Children of the Korn.” So, that too.