Capitals

Capitals

After winning the Stanley Cup, Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan tried to keep his championship team intact. For the most part, he was able to keep the roster together, but there was some shakeup in the coaching ranks.

Barry Trotz resigned as head coach in June and was hired as the head coach of the New York Islanders. As coaches typically do, Trotz brought with him a few members of his staff from Washington, including goaltending director Mirch Korn, who is widely credited with turning Braden Holtby from a good starter to one of the top netminders in the league.

With Korn now gone, this year the goalies have been left solely in the hands of goaltending coach Scott Murray.

“He's a really good coach,” Pheonix Copley said, who Murray also coached while with the Hershey Bears. “He's really good at problem solving. I've been fortunate to work with him for a number of years now going back to my first year in Hershey. He's really good at developing goalies and I'm fortunate to work with him.”

“Scott is more of a laid back, try to get the best out of guys by making them feel comfortable and easy to talk to,” Braden Holtby said. “So you can go through things easier and more of a stress free environment in that way.”

In 2017, Korn, now 61, desired to take a less involved role with the team and transitioned from goaltending coach to goaltending director. Murray was already familiar with the organization after four seasons in Hershey and was brought to Washington as Korn’s replacement.

 

Korn is highly regarded not just for his work with Holtby, but most notably for coaching Dominik Hasek. Under Korn’s tutelage in Buffalo, Hasek won four of his six Vezina Trophies and two Hart Trophies as league MVP.

Murray was appreciative of the chance to work with Korn, but also appreciative of the fact that he did not hover over the goalies when both coaches transitioned into their new roles.

“The really good thing that Mitch did last year is really hands off,” Murray told NBC Sports Washington. “He did a lot of stuff in Hershey. He was here maybe two, three, four, five days a month and he was hands off completely and was a sounding board when needed. So that was awesome and helped that transition.”

Replacing Korn could have been an intimidating prospect, but Murray was quick to establish himself and his own style of coaching last season in what he felt was a blend of his and Korn’s philosophies.

“[Korn’s] experience and some of the things that he's believed in along with some of the stuff that has come down the pipe in goaltending I think has allowed us to come together and build a nice philosophy and just how we see the game and how we deliver it to our goalies. I think it came together really nicely where you have some of those foundational things that he really believed in along with some of the foundational things that I believed in that are coming down the pipe in goaltending and that's kind of made a nice match in how we both see the game now.”

“Mitch and Scott are obviously different personalities, but teach the same things,” Holtby said.

That blend certainly seemed to work last season.

Holtby was able to rebound from a tough February stretch to play some of the best hockey of his career in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Philipp Grubauer was also able to step in without the team missing a beat while Holtby was struggling.

To get both goalies through that stretch all the way to the Cup was reflective of a remarkable coaching job.

Now the Korn, Murray tandem is gone. But even with the legendary coach out of the organization, there still remains a lot of confidence in Murray.

“Scott's one of those guys that he's going to be himself no matter what,” Holtby said. “He's pretty comfortable in his own skin. He knows who he is and I think that's why he connects with our players and our staff so well.”

And while Korn may be in Long Island now, the relationship between him and Murray still remains.

“Mine and Mitch's relationship has been unbelievable and it's not going to stop,” Murray said. “Obviously when you build a relationship like that, you continue to talk and have that relationship no matter whether you're together or whether you're on different teams.”

 

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