WASHINGTON, D.C. (WHTM) — The Hershey Bears coaching staff is in the Nation’s Capital this week trying to find the next generation of Chocolate and White stars.
As the Washington Capitals host Development Camp this week, the AHL affiliate for the Caps, the Hershey Bears, gets its first look at who could play in Hershey this upcoming season.
This year’s camp falls just 11 months after Scott Allen took the Bears head coaching job, so this was his first Development Camp at the helm.
“It’s exciting to be here now,” Allen said on the camp’s second day. “This is my first Development Camp because I was hired late my first year, and camp had already taken place. In the last two years with COVID-19 [there was] no Development Camp. Now I have an opportunity to learn some more about some of the Draft picks who are playing juniors, overseas and in college. Even the guys who were drafted this year, [we get to] have a first hand look at them. It’s exciting, no doubt about it.”
Of course, the relationship between the Caps and Bears continues to be a successful one. The Bears won the Kilpatrick Trophy for the best record in the AHL regular season in 2021. While the Capitals continue to contend for the playoffs in the NHL.
“To have that relationships continue to grow and build has been important,” Allen said. :I think it grew and built this year.”
As Allen continues to lead different Washington Capitals camps, like Development Camp, the relationship between head coaches is building. Allen and Caps Head Coach Peter Laviolette’s relationship dates back to both coaches time in the ECHL.
“Both organizations feel that the Hershey Bears have to win,” said Bears Vice President of Hockey Operations Bryan Helmer. “They want to make sure they are developing their players and prospects in a winning atmosphere, so I think we’re definitely on the same page there.”
While Development Camp doesn’t determine which players will wear the Chocolate and White this fall, it is a chance for the coaching staff to start putting names to faces.
“The reality of it is that there are only so many guys that are on this ice who are capable and possibly going to be Hershey Bears this coming season,” Allen said. “So do I spend a little extra time watching [the prospects]? Yeah, I do. There is no doubt about it because you always want to start evaluating as quickly as possible. Decisions are certainly not going to be made here in mid-July on whether a guy is going to be a Hershey Bear or not.”
“You want to see what’s comingu up the pipeline, especially because some of these guys could end up in Hershey,” Helmer said. “You want to get to meet them and kind of get their personalities and then see them on the ice. It’s great to come up here and see that. It’s the start of a process.”
There are some big shoes for some of the prospects to try to fill. Bears Captain Matt Moulson made it official this week and retired from his 16-year professional hockey playing career. Moulson spent the last three seasons with the Hershey Bears before a back injury cut his 2021-22 season short.
“He is a fantastic human being first and foremost,” Allen said of Moulson. “He’s a great family man. What he did for us from a leadership standpoint was hufe. It was tremendous. We missed him in a huge way this year.”
Allen and Moulson’s relationship goes beyond the three years with the Hershey Bears. The two crossed over on the New York Islanders for three seasons as well.
“It is such an honor to be a Hershey Bear first and foremost,” Allen said. “But to be a captain of the Hershey Bears is a huge and tremendous honor. I do not take that lightly and whoever is going to wear that “C” [on their jersey] will not take it lightly either.”
The next time the Washington Capitals and Hershey Bears will be back together is for Training Camp in mid-September.