Nearly two weeks after news broke that the Washington Capitals planned to hire goaltender coach Mitch Korn from the Nashville Predators, the move was finally made official with a news release on Tuesday afternoon.
“I am very pleased to join the Washington Capitals and continue to work alongside [Coach] Barry Trotz,” Korn said in a news release. “I look forward to working with all of the talented goaltenders in the organization and helping them improve and succeed on the ice. I want to thank the Nashville Predators for a great 16 years and wish them the very best in the future.”
A reputed developer of net-minders using an arsenal of unique props — unbreakable mirrors, camouflage pucks and plywood barriers among them — Korn had spent 15 seasons in Nashville, all of them with Trotz. Korn’s contract with the Predators was scheduled to expire on June 30, but given the regime change in town after Trotz was dismissed, which included the promotion of Ben Vanderklock to goaltending coach, it makes sense that Korn would follow his longtime colleague to D.C. The move was hardly a secret; recently, Korn changed his Twitter handle to @mitchkorncaps.
“It was time to make a change,” Korn told The Tennessean. “It was a great 16 years, but I felt that the company line is to stay with Barry.”
Korn replaces Olie Kolzig, the longtime Washington staple, who is expected to remain with the franchise in a part-time capacity while moving closer to his family in Tampa Bay.
“I have known Olie for many years and have a great appreciation and respect for the way he views the goaltending position,” Korn said in the statement. “We will continue to discuss the best way for him to remain with the organization while doing what’s best for his family.”
In Washington, Korn inherits starter Braden Holtby, who recently received a vote of confidence from rookie general manager Brian MacLellan after an up-and-down 2013-14 season that saw his ice time fluctuate dramatically among an unstable situation in the net.
With Korn, Washington expects Holtby to embrace the starting job this summer while hoping to bring in a veteran No. 2 goaltender, either through free agency or via trade. One option could be Tomas Vokoun, who thrived in Nashville under Korn’s tutelage and spent the 2011-12 season with the Capitals, but sat out last season with a blood clot disorder. His agent, Allan Walsh, recently tweeted that Vokoun was determined to play in the NHL next season.
Philipp Grubauer, who started 14 games for the Capitals last season but played primarily in Hershey, will be Washington’s No. 3 goaltender and, according to MacLellan, should begin 2014-15 with the Bears in the AHL.
A teleconference with Korn is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Tuesday. More to come afterwards.