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Capitals hire Todd Reirden as assistant coach

The new-look Washington Capitals coaching staff under first-year bench boss Barry Trotz continues to take shape after the announced hiring of Todd Reirden on Wednesday evening.

Reirden, who spent the past four seasons as an assistant with the Pittsburgh Penguins, working primarily with their defense and power-play units, comes to Washington to replace Calle Johansson, who announced earlier this week that he would return to his native Sweden for family reasons. It was a whirlwind day for Reirden, whose employment was terminated with the Penguins, coinciding with the hiring of new head coach Mike Johnston. Mere hours later, he found a new job.

With the Capitals, Reirden will be counted upon to help improve a blue line that posted a minus-276 shot differential in five-on-five situations and a Corsi-against rate — an advanced metric approximating puck possession — that ranked 20th in the NHL. In Pittsburgh, Reirden oversaw a power play that tallied the league’s most power-play goals (164) and recorded the league’s highest power-play conversion rate (22.3 percent) since 2011, according to a Capitals release.

Reirden had climbed the ladder within the Penguins organization, first as an assistant with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and then as a head coach with the AHL affiliate once Dan Bylsma became the head coach in Pittsburgh. However, once Bylsma was fired this offseason, the writing was on the wall for Reirden’s departure as well. He is a graduate of Bowling Green, the same school attended by current Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan and the man MacLellan succeeded, George McPhee. Reirden played for four NHL teams in as many seasons, scoring 11 goals and recording 181 penalty minutes over 183 games.

Reirden joins a staff that currently includes new goaltending coach Mitch Korn, formally announced Tuesday to replace Olie Kolzig, and incumbent assistant Blaine Forsythe, who has been with the organization for eight seasons. MacLellan has yet to address his plans for Forsythe, but will almost certainly be asked about it during his scheduled media availability following the first round of Friday’s NHL draft in Philadelphia. The Capitals have been linked to several of Trotz’s former assistants with the Nashville Predators, including Peter Horachek.