By Tori Wittenbrock
DE PERE- St. Norbert College alumnus and former hockey star Spencer Carbery, 41, has taken his career to a new level after being named head coach of the NHL Washington Capitals Tuesday, May 30.
Carbery played collegiate hockey for St. Norbert College close to two decades ago, scoring 55 goals, with an impressive 45 assists for a total of 100 points over his three years there, after transferring from University of Alaska- Anchorage.
He played in a total of 87 career games for the Green Knights, earning multiple accolades, such as being named an All-American athlete in 2004, the year the team was the NCAA Division III national runner-up, as well as being named an All-American in 2005. The Green Knights were also the national runner-up Carbery’s senior year, 2006.
Although successful now, in a previous interview with the Press Times, Carbery revealed that a coaching career in the NHL was not something that was ever on his radar until recently.
“When I first started coaching, it was the furthest thing from my imagination. But then, one day, you’re thinking maybe it’s a possibility — a long journey and a grind, but cool to reflect on the 12 years when I first started and now to be coaching in the best league in the world,” said Carberry last year about when he got his foot in the door with the NHL as the assistant coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Current St. Norbert boys hockey coach Tim Coghlin had the pleasure of coaching Carbery during his collegiate career, and said that he believes the best is yet to come with the Washington Capitals in the NHL. “I am very proud of Spencer and all that he has accomplished. He has steadily made his way up the ladder and has earned every opportunity before him,” said Coghlin. “Spencer is a self made man.”
Transition to coaching
After graduating, Carbery continued to play hockey as a forward for the ECHL, contributing to the South Carolina Stingray’s 2009 Kelly Cup win.
In 2010, Carbery began his coaching career as an assistant coach for the Stingrays, working his way up from there.
He eventually became head coach of the program and director of hockey operations for five consecutive seasons from 2011-16. In the 2013-14 season, Carbery was awarded the John Brophy Coach of the Year Award after a successful and rewarding season, taking the Stingrays to their first division title in over a decade.
From 2016-17 Carbery became the head coach of the Saginaw Spirit team in the Ontario Hockey League, as well as the assistant coach of the Providence Bruins in the American Hockey League the next year.
Next up for the rising coach from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, would be a three season stint as head coach of the Hershey Bears where he received the Louis A.R. Pieri Memorial Award as outstanding coach in the AHL from 2020-21.
The big leagues
“It is a tremendous honor and privilege to be named the head coach of the Washington Capitals. I look forward to working with this group of talented players and building upon the winning culture in place,” said Carbery.
Carbery has previous NHL coaching experience with the Maple Leafs from 2021-23, overseeing power plays and the team’s forwards.
Under Carbery, the Maple Leafs performed first in power play percentage in the NHL during his first season with the team and had the second-highest power play opportunity conversion rate of the NHL over his two years (26.6%).
Carbery’s forward line also ranked second in goals (277) his first season, and fourth in goals his second season (251).
“I would like to thank the Capitals organization for affording me the opportunity to lead this team,” said Carbery of the next step in his career. “I would also like to thank the Toronto Maple Leafs organization for all their support over the past two years and wish them all the best in the future.”