(Spencer Carbery / NHL)

Spencer Carbery has been announced as the next head coach of the Washington Capitals, taking over from Peter Laviolette after a 3 year stint.

The Victoria-born Carbery was hired from the Toronto Maple Leafs, after spending two years there as an assistant coach. He primarily ran the forwards and the power play, one that finished 2nd in the league this past season while clicking along at a 26% success rate.

The move makes Carbery, 41, the youngest head coach in the NHL, though the Anaheim Ducks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Calgary Flames, and New York Rangers still have vacancies to be filled.

“It’s a tremendous honour and privilege to be named the head coach of the Washington Capitals,” Carbery said in a release.

“I would like to thank the Capitals organization for affording me the opportunity to lead this team. I look forward to working with this group of talented players and building upon the winning culture in place.”

This will be Carbery’s first head coaching gig in the NHL, after learning the profession over the past 13 years following his pro hockey career.

From the Island to South Carolina to The Show

A former Victoria Salsa, Peninsula Panther, and Cowichan Valley Capital, Carbery carved out a four year pro career in the Central Hockey League and East Coast Hockey League (ECHL) following the completion of his collegiate hockey career.

After wearing an “A” over his final two seasons with the South Carolina Stingrays of the ECHL (which is one tier below the AHL), he moved immediately into an assistant coaching role after retiring from playing. Needing just one year as an assistant, he was swiftly promoted to Head Coach and Director of Hockey Operations for the Stingrays, a title he would hold from 2011-2016. He led the Stringrays to the final in 2015, but ultimately fell short.

After brief one year stops as a head coach in the OHL and an assistant in the AHL, he became head coach of the AHL’s Hershey Bears for three seasons from 2018-2021. The Bears were excellent over that span, accumulating a 104-50-9 record during his tenure. Ultimately, two of his seasons were impacted by Covid, and never had playoffs – including a dominant short but sweet 2020-21 season where the Bears were 24-7-2.

That was when Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe came calling, and gave him his first taste of coaching with the big boys.

The rest is history, and after two years as an assistant for the Leafs, Washington Capitals general manager Bryan MacLellan deemed him ready to lead the charge.

Carbery will join the Capitals at an interesting point, after missing the playoffs this past season for just the 2nd time in 16 years – and first since 2013-14. He will be tasked with managing an ageing team with playoff expectations, all while deftly handling Alex Ovechkin’s hunt to pass Wayne Gretzky as the NHL’s all time leader in goals scored.

We’ll see if Carbery can lead the team back to the playoffs while also keeping 37-year-old Ovechkin’s scoring prowess front and centre.

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