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Photo credit: Matt Slocum

When Peter Laviolette was panic-fired Monday morning for his team shooting 2.4% through three games at even strength, I laughed. Then I thought about the five-year contract they gave Vincent Lecavalier over the offseason, and I laughed some more. Then I thought about how they traded Vezina-winning goalie Sergei Bobrovsky one season and then bought out Ilya Bryzgalov the next, choosing to pay the Russian $23 million over the next 14 years not to play, tears started rolling down my face. Paul HoLOLmgren, you are teh best.

Once I got past that (it was difficult), I was quite happy for long-time Washington Capitals enforcer Craig Berube, who was named the Flyers’ new head coach (Not interim!).

Berube becomes the third player from the Capitals’ 1997-98 Stanley Cup Final team to become a head coach in the NHL joining former Capital captains Dale Hunter and Adam Oates. With former Caps’ 98 Cup Final players Calle Johansson and Olie Kolzig serving as assistants in Washington (Kolzig is goaltending coach), I wondered how many other players from that very-talented, overachieving team are now coaching in hockey.

The number is staggering.

16 out of 39 players from that year’s roster have been hired as coaches. Let’s review.

NHL Head Coaches

Dale Hunter, Washington Capitals (2011-12)

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Photo credit: Justin K. Aller

Former Washington Capitals captain Dale Hunter became the first player from the Caps’ 97-98 Stanley Cup Final team to be a bench boss in the NHL, accepting the heading coaching position for the Caps mid-season in 2011-12 after Bruce Boudreau was fired. Hunter has also had a very successful career coaching junior hockey. After he retired as a player in 2001-02, Hunter became the co-owner, president, and head coach of the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League. The Knights won the Memorial Cup in 2005 and have won two OHL Championships during Hunter’s tenure in 2005 and 2013.

Adam Oates, Washington Capitals (2012-Present)

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Photo credit: Greg Fiume

Adam Oates, who succeeded Dale Hunter as captain during their playing days, also succeeded Hunter as head coach, taking over the reigns of the Capitals during the lockout shortened 2012-13 season. Oates began his coaching career as an assistant coach for the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2009–10 season where he worked with the team’s offense. In 2010, Oates joined the New Jersey Devils as an assistant coach for two seasons, losing in the Stanley Cup Finals in 2011-12. Since becoming head coach in Washington, Oates’s Caps have led the league in power-play percentage.

Craig Berube, Philadelphia Flyers (2013-Present)

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Photo credit: Bruce Bennett

Before being named head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers Monday, Craig Berube served as an assistant coach for the Flyers for parts of 7 seasons. In 2004-05, Berube was hired as an assistant coach of the Flyers’ AHL affiliate, the Philadelphia Phantoms. In 2006-07 he was promoted to head coach. Berube won a Calder Cup Championship in 2004-05 season as an assistant coach under John Stevens.

NHL Assistant Coaches

Calle Johansson, Washington Capitals (2012-Present)

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Photo via capitals.nhl.com

Calle Johansson, the Washington Capitals franchise leader in games played, first served as an assistant coach with Frolunda of the Swedish Elite League in 2006-07. On July 18, 2012, Johansson was named an assistant coach to the Caps, joining former teammate Adam Oates behind the bench to coach the team’s defensemen.

Olie Kolzig, Washington Capitals (2011-Present)

Photo credit: Chris Gordon

After leaving the organization on bad terms, netminder Olie Kolzig returned to the Capitals in June 2011 as the team’s assistant goaltending coach. In 2013, after Dave Prior stepped down, Kolzig was promoted to his position. Kolzig, who was one of the main reasons why the Capitals made it to the Finals in 97-98, also serves as owner of the WHL’s Tri-City Americans.

Bill Ranford, Los Angeles Kings (2006-Present)

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Photo credit: David Hutchison

On July 10, 2006, Bill Ranford, the Capitals’ back-up goaltender and a Conn Smyth winner (1990 with Oilers), was named the goaltending coach of the Los Angeles Kings. Ranford won a championship as part of the Kings’ 2011-12 Stanley Cup winning season. Before coaching in LA, Ranford served as goaltending coach of the WHL’s Vancouver Giants (2004-05), and the BCHL’s Coquitlam Express and Burnaby Express.

Phil Housley, Nashville Predators (2013-Present)

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Photo credit: Frederick Breedon

Phil Housley is one of the greatest offensive defensemen to play in the NHL. He scored 1,234 points over his 21-year career, notching his 1,000th point in a Washington Capitals uniform. Since he retired in 2003, Housley has gone on to have a fantastic coaching career. Last year, he won the World Junior Championship as head coach of Team USA. This summer, he was named an assistant coach with the Nashville Predators, serving under garden gnome Barry Trotz.

Steve Konowalchuk, Colorado Avalanche (2009-2011)

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Photo credit: Seattle Thunderbirds

Longtime Washington Capital Steve Konowalchuk, AKA the man who made me fell in love with hockey, joined former Capital Joe Sacco‘s coaching staff in 2009 as an assistant coach. After two seasons in Colorado, Konowalchuk was hired as the head coach of the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds, where he remains to this day.

Kelly Miller, New York Islanders (2001-2003)

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Former Caps checking-line forward Kelly Miller is from a famous hockey family. He is brother of former NHL’ers Kevin and Kip and the cousin of current Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller and Ryan’s brother Drew Miller of the Detroit Red Wings. After Miller retired in 1999-00, he joined Anaheim as an assistant coach (2000-01), and later the New York Islanders (2001-03). Miller’s now an assistant coach at Michigan State University (2011-present).

Minor League Coaches

Nolan Baumgartner, Assistant Coach of the AHL’s Utica Comets (2013-Present)

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Defenseman Nolan Baumgartner only played four regular season games for the Capitals in 1997-98, but we’re including him anyway. After retiring in 2011-12 as captain of the AHL’s Chicago Wolves (boy, did he have a long career), Baumgartner joined Chicago’s coaching staff in 2012-13 as an assistant coach. The Vancouver Canucks changed affiliates in 2013-14, and Baumgartner continues in his role, now with the Utica Comets.

Junior Hockey Coaches

Jaroslav Svejkovsky, Assistant Coach of WHL’s Vancouver Giants (2007-Present)

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Jaroslav “Yogi” Svejkovsky was awesome and dammit – why didn’t anything come of him after that four-goal game against Buffalo? Svejkovsky played in one game during the Capitals’ 1997-98 playoff run. Unfortunately, post-concussion syndrome cut Svejkovsky’s career short and he retired after the 2000-01 season. In 2007, Yogi was hired as an assistant coach for  the Vancouver Giants (the franchise where Milan Lucic played junior hockey). He is also Director of Hockey Operations for the Seafair Minor Hockey Association, where he also coaches Atom rep. Read this utterly fantastic feature about him by the Richmond Review. A sample:

“I feel perfect now,” says Svejkovsky, 35, who was selected 17th overall in the 1996 NHL Entry Draft by the Capitals and appeared to be on his way to a productive pro career after scoring 23 goals and 19 assists over five NHL seasons. “It’s been 11 years (since he was forced to retire) so there’s been lots of time to recover. If I would be younger I’d probably try to go back and play. But I’ve found a new life in terms of coaching and stuff like that and I feel this is probably what I was meant to do and I don’t look back.”

Jeff Brown, Head Coach of the USHL’s Indiana Ice (2012-Present)

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Photo credit: indianatalks.com

George McPhee picked up defenseman Jeff Brown at the 1997-98 trade deadline. He would play only two games for the Capitals in the playoffs after suffering from post-concussion syndrome. In 2005-06, Brown became head coach of the UHL’s Missouri River Otters. He would also coach for NAHL’s St. Louis Bandits (2008-20012) before becoming GM/head coach of the USHL’s Indiana Ice. Caps center prospect Brian Pinho currently plays there.

Todd Krygier, Head Coach of the USHL’s Muskegon Lumberjacks (2013-Present)

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Photo credit: Natalie Kolb

Feisty forward Todd Krygier once beat the crap out of Mario Lemieux. That’s really all you need to know about his playing career, so let’s now focus on what he’s done since then. In 2013-14, the 46-year-old (man I’m old) was hired as the head coach of the USHL’s Muskegon Lumberjacks.

Stewart Malgunas, Assistant Coach of the WHL’s Prince George Cougars (2003-?)

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Defenseman Stewart Malgunas played 8 games for the Caps during the 1997-98 regular season. He was not a particularly good player, so let’s be brief. He ended up returning to coach where his career first started, joining the WHL’s Prince George Cougars and later BCHL’s Prince George Spruce Kings as an assistant coach in 2003. He spent a few years there before leaving hockey completely.

College Hockey Coaches

Mike Eagles, Head Coach St. Thomas University (2002-2011)

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Photo credit: stu.ca

Checking line center Mike Eagles was a feisty, reliable player who spent the final six years of his career with the Capitals. Eagles had two assists in 12 games during the 1997-98 playoff run. He now coaches at St. Thomas University in Canada. He did so for nine seasons. In 2002-03, he was named CIS Coach of the Year after winning the University Cup Championship.

Joe Reekie, Assistant Coach for Women’s Team at Navy Academy

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Defenseman Joe Reekie, a master of breaking up 2-on-1’s with a perfect slide, played a huge role in the 1997-98 playoff team. He played in 21 games and had a goal and 2 assists as well as 20 PIMs. After retiring in 2001-02, Reekie briefly did some work on CSN before becoming a fantastic assistant coach for the women’s team at Navy.

Coaching Abroad

Esa Tikkanen, Head Coach of the Mestis’s League’s Jokipojat (2010-11)

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Photo credit: Joona-Pekka Hirvonen

Esa Tikkanen, the pariah who killed all momentum in the SCF when he missed an empty-net on a breakaway, became a coach on a different continent. Two different continents. During the 2004–05 season, Tikkanen was a player-coach for the Anyang Halla, a South Korean team in the Asia League Ice Hockey. After one season in Korea, Tikkanen became the coach for Frisk Tigers of the Norwegian GET-ligaen. Tikkanen was head coach only for the 2005–06 season. Finally, in 2010, Tikkanen was a mid-season head coaching hire for Jokipojat, a team in a Finnish second-tier league under Liiga (formerly SM-Liiga).

Here’s a great story on him from the IIHF.

Minor Junior Hockey

Mark Tinordi, Head Coach of the Washington Junior Nationals (2006-?)

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Finally, let’s finish with big, bruising defenseman Mark Tinordi. Tenner scored a goal and tallied an assist in 21 games during the Caps 1997-98 Finals run. He also had 42 PIMs. After his career ended, Tinordi became the coach of the Washington Junior Nationals in 2006–07. He is also the Director of the Washington Junior Nationals College Development Program. His son Jarred Tinordi made the NHL and currently plays for the Montreal Canadiens.


Notes: We left a few guys out. Caps fifty goal scorer Peter Bondra was the General Manager of Team Slovakia from 2007-11. Jeff Toms (one postseason game in 1997-98) now coaches the Soo St. Marie Greyhounds of the Atom Minor AA league– a league of 9 year olds. Defenseman Ken Klee isn’t a coach but does hold camps for kids in Colorado. Dwayne Hay (according to his LinkedIn profile) is a sports conditioning coach at Strive Nutrition and Fitness, as well as a stick rep at Base Hockey, and a marketing consultant at Remax Central in Calgary, Alberta. What an over-achiever. Forward Andrew Brunette (who we should have never traded away) was a special assistant to the GM of the Minnesota Wild last year.

And finally, this:

Massive amounts of research was done for this post. Thank you to Fedor Fedin who helped me with every facet of this post.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    Fantastic story.

    The number of ex-players that become coaches is fascinating to me. How many farmers become chefs?

  • Mike Livingston

    Great research. Joe Juneau’s story is really interesting. He’s done a tremendous amount of work of bringing hockey to Nunavut and to the Inuit communities in northern Quebec, including helping to fund arenas. If more hockey players come from that part of Canada, they’ll all have Joe to thank for it. (From MikeL-Pivonka at Japers’)