The Capitals have crossed off another item from their off-season to-do list with the hiring of a new coaching staff for their top minor league affiliate.
The American Hockey League’s Hershey Bears announced Wednesday that Troy Mann will return to club as the 25th head coach in team history. Mann spent four seasons as an assistant coach with the Bears from 2009-13, working alongside bench boss Mark French.
“Once again the Hershey Bears had an abundance of outstanding candidates interested in guiding the hockey club,” said Bears President and General Manager Doug Yingst.
“After a successful return to the head coaching role last season, and after four proven years here, I am thrilled to welcome Troy Mann back to Hershey.”
Mann, 44, spent last season as head coach of the ECHL’s Bakersfield Condors, leading the team to a 36-30-6 record and a trip to the Western Conference Finals.
He takes over a Bears team that missed the Calder Cup Playoffs last season for the first time in nine years as the Capitals’ AHL affiliate. The Caps were one of only six franchises to miss both the NHL and AHL playoffs last season.
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Mann replaces Mike Haviland, who left Hershey after one season to take the head coaching position at Colorado College.
Joining Mann behind the bench will be assistant coach and former Bears defenseman Bryan Helmer.
Helmer was the Bears’ captain for their back-to-back Calder Cup championships in 2009 and 2010 and appeared in 12 games with the Capitals during the 2008-09 season.
Helmer played 146 career NHL games and had eight goals and 26 points. He retired as the AHL’s all-time leading scorer for a defenseman with 564 career points (129 goals and 435 assists) in 1,117 career regular-season games.
Both Mann and Helmer are expected to attend the Capitals’ annual development camp next week at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex.