Capitals assistant coach Calle Johansson, once one of the longest-tenured players in franchise history as a prolific blue-liner, is returning to his native Sweden to be closer to his family, according to the team-run Monumental Network.
Though the club has not formally announced it yet, former Nashville goaltenders coach Mitch Korn will be joining the Capitals in the same capacity, while Capitals great Olie Kolzig most likely will remain on board in a part-time role, shuffling between D.C. and Hershey.
Speaking to team reporter Mike Vogel by telephone from Sweden, Johansson said his decision was based off his youngest daughter, Madeline, returning to Sweden to attend high school after missing one year. Johansson had spent two seasons under since-fired coach Adam Oates as an assistant.
“I’m really sorry,” Johansson said. “We really liked it. It was a tough decision, really tough.
A former defenseman who spent the vast majority of his NHL career with the Capitals and logged more games than any other Washington player ever, Johansson was tasked as an assistant with handling Washington’s blue line, which endured its fair share of struggles in missing the playoffs for the first time since 2006-07.
At even strength, the Capitals were among the league’s worst possession teams (47.6 percent Corsi-for, a measure of puck possession) and dealt with both inexperience — 14 blue-liners logged ice time — and inconsistency.
“It comes with the job, it comes with the territory,” Johansson told Vogel, when asked about the criticism. “Whoever is responsible for something, then they have to take the heat for it and if that’s the case then I am more than willing to do it. If I take the heat that means to players can relax and do better next time. I’m perfectly fine with that.”
Given Trotz’s connections throughout the league — before spending 15 seasons with Nashville as its only coach in franchise history, he coached in the Capitals organization for their AHL affiliates — and the time spent since his late-May hire evaluating staff members within the organization, it wouldn’t surprise if Trotz already has a replacement lined up for Johansson, or at the very least has some candidates in mind. For instance, longtime Predators assistant Peter Horachek is still on the open market, after being fired by the Florida Panthers following a short stint as their interim head coach.
As for Johansson, he wouldn’t rule out returning to the Capitals, if allowed, once his daughter finishes high school.
“In a heartbeat,” he told Vogel.