The Capitals' athletic training staff is undergoing some major changes.
The team announced Tuesday that it has hired former Coyotes head athletic trainer Jason Serbus to handle the same responsibilities in Washington. Serbus, who worked in Arizona from 2008 through last season, replaces longtime trainer Greg Smith, who is retiring.
Smith had been the Caps’ head trainer since 1999. The 48-year-old Bowie native will continue in his role with D.C.-based Pivot Physical Therapy, the company he co-founded and owns.
Under Smith, the Caps had been one of the NHL’s heathiest teams the past two seasons, having accrued an NHL-low 48 man games lost a year ago and just 109 the year before.
“It’s been a great 18 years behind the bench in Washington, and unfortunately I made the hard decision to reconnect and spend more time with the family,” Smith told CSN. “I haven’t missed one of my kids’ sporting events this summer.”
Smith and the team management had discussed a reduced/advisory position in recent weeks, but the team was unable to settle on a role for him.
Serbus, meanwhile, comes to Washington after nine seasons in Arizona. The Coyotes did not renew his contract this summer amid a broader house-cleaning following the team’s 28th place finish.
Prior to heading up the Coyotes’ training staff, Serbus was an assistant in Tampa Bay for three years. The Minnesota native has also been involved with Team USA at various international competitions.
In addition to adding Serbus, the Caps have also named Michael Booi assistant athletic trainer and Cleo Bates the team's new massage therapist. Booi takes over for Ben Reisz, who has decided to pursue other interests. Reisz had been with the Capitals for 10 years.
“We would like to thank Greg and Ben for their service, commitment and dedication to the Capitals,” GM Brian MacLellan said in a statement. “On behalf of everyone in our organization, we wish them both all the best in the future. We are also pleased to welcome Jason, Michael and Cleo to the organization. Their credentials and previous experience make them uniquely qualified to oversee our medical department and the health of our players.”
Although Smith’s contract expired in late June, he stayed around this summer to assist in the transition. Serbus and Booi have been with the Caps for several weeks now so they figure to be up to speed when training camp begins on Friday.
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