Lost in the shuffle of “Boudreau out, Hunter in” was another significant change behind the Washington Capitals bench — assistant/defense coach Bob Woods was turfed in favor of ex-NHL defenseman Jim Johnson.
Johnson and Hunter played in Washington together from 1993-96 before joining the coaching ranks. Hunter went the OHL route while Johnson worked as an assistant with the U.S. national development team before becoming the head coach with AHL Norfolk.
“Dale and I, we speak the same language,” Johnson told CSN Washington’s Chuck Gormley following his first practice with the Caps. “I showed him some ideas of what I was doing when I took over in Norfolk and how I went in there to turn that team around in a very short period of time.
“We have a lot of the same philosophies and ideas and obviously, I’ve got a lot of admiration for Dale.”
Johnson will take over Woods’ role of handling Washington’s defensive pairings, which should be interesting to watch. With Mike Green and Tom Poti hurt, the Caps have been rolling Dmitry Orlov-Roman Hamrlik, Dennis Wideman-John Erskine and John Carlson-Karl Alzner. (Of note, Johnson’s son Derik played with Carlson on the U.S. national team.)
But based on Johnson’s philosophical approach to defensive play, one wonders if a change is on the horizon.
“I think if you can play a speed game, you can have success. But you’ve got to have some structure within that speed game,” Johnson said. “I think in order to create offense at this level you’ve got to get the defense up in the play. You don’t need them leading the rush.”
Video: Here’s Johnson speaking with Caps365 about his coaching style and defensive ideas.