New Capitals assistant coach Calle Johansson admits he doesn’t have much experience as a pro coach. His entire resume consists of one season with his hometown club in Sweden, Frolunda, in 2006-07. But some around the organization say Johansson can overcome that.
“A lot of people are going to say ‘Well, he doesn’t have any coaching experience’. But he coached for a little bit over in Sweden,” Olie Kolzig, the team’s associate goalie coach and a former Johansson teammate, said. “I think from a coaching stand point the experience part has more to do with practice plans and breaking down video. But if you know the game, you know the game. And Calle will have a way of being able to teach the game even though he maybe doesn’t have that experience. He’ll have a way of coming across to the players where they’ll get it.”
Part of that, say ex-teammates, is that Johansson is smart while also being one of the boys in the dressing room. He had an innate ability to relate to others. That’s not always an easy combination. He earned the respect of new head coach Adam Oates when they played together for parts of six seasons because of his hockey smarts and his competitiveness. But he was also good friends with noted prankster Dale Hunter - the man Oates replaced as coach – and wasn’t afraid to mess with like-minded friends Keith Jones or Ulf Dahlen. He would “throw a chew in” as one ex-teammate so eloquently put it. So, no, the experience isn’t there. It’s limited to that one season in Sweden. But even that small bit helps. And the communication part – something Oates has stressed – will be one of Johansson’s strengths.
“I learned that the thing you have to do is be yourself to earn the players’ trust. Don’t think you’re something that you’re not,” Johansson said. “Don’t think that you can put on a role or a façade or something like that. You have to be yourself to earn their trust and I think that’s the most important thing as a coach. To be able to get through to the guys they got to know that what you’re telling them is the absolute truth.”
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