HERSHEY, Pa. – The Hershey Bears are searching for a new head coach for the second summer in a row after it was announced earlier this week the Washington Capitals have promoted Scott Allen to serve as an assistant coach at the NHL level. According to a press release, Allen will be working with the Capitals’ penalty kill and forward group.
The move leaves several spots open to fill in the Bears’ organization, in addition, to slots that need to be filled on the ice via free agency.
“The Hershey Bears congratulate Scott Allen on his promotion to the Washington Capitals,” Bears vice president of hockey operations Bryan Helmer said in the team’s release. “Scott did a tremendous job in his three seasons with the organization, and it was an honor to have him serve as the 27th head coach in our franchise’s rich history. His passion and dedication to the position was second to none, and we thank him for his tireless commitment to the club. We wish Scott, and his wife Traci, all the best in Washington, and we look forward to working with the Capitals on the search for the next head coach of the Hershey Bears.”
Allen’s promotion follows in the footsteps of Spencer Carbery, who he worked with in Hershey for two of his three years. He succeeded when Carbery after he was hired to be the assistant coach for the Toronto Maple Leafs a summer ago. The promotion to the U.S. capital completes a return to the NHL for Allen, who was previously an assistant coach for the New York Islanders when former Bears captain Matt Moulson skated for them from 2009-2012. Prior to that, he coached in the AHL with several teams, highlighted by a midseason promotion to the Portland Pirates head coaching gig during the 2015-16 season. Allen would be hired as an assistant coach for the Arizona Coyotes, before joining the Bears for the 2019-20 season.
“I have felt privileged and honored to have spent these last three seasons coaching in Hershey,” Allen said in the release. “The history of this franchise speaks for itself, but it’s been the people that have made it so special. I would like to extend a huge thank you to everyone who has enhanced my time in Hershey, including the players, staff, management, new found friends, and of course the incredible, passionate Bears fans. Thank you Hershey. I’m going to miss you.”
Allen’s tenure, like those of so many in the last three seasons, was impacted heavily by circumstances that prevented a strong Hershey squad from hoisting a Calder Cup. His only full season as Hershey’s head coach was impacted heavily by injuries and recalls that prevented a good roster from reaching its potential. As seen in his quote, his respect and knowledge of the franchise is second-to-none, which will make this coaching hire of particular interest. If the Bears were to look internally for a new coach, the list should be down to assistant coach Patrick Wellar, who has been with the team since being named an assistant coach in 2018 and helped the Bears win their last Calder Cup as a member of the 2009-2010 squad.
Outside of that, however, Hershey’s prospects of hiring from within are extremely slim. The Bears will be looking to make several hires outside of replacing Allen as the head coach, with the release also making official that assistant coach Steve Bergin has departed the organization. When combined with the departure of goaltending coach Alex Westlund to the Detroit Red Wings and video coach Emily Engel-Natzke also promoted to Washington, Wellar is the only man still standing in Hershey’s coaching group.
South Carolina recently shook up their coaching staff, removing the interim tag from Brenden Kotyk this April alongside former Bear Ryan Bourque. Kotyk shifted from playing at the ECHL level for three seasons to coaching with the Stingrays, while Bourque joined the team midseason after a coaching change. Although Bourque has familiarity with Hershey after skating for them over two seasons, it’d be hard to imagine the Chocolate and White pressing either into AHL service so early in their coaching careers.
No doubt, the list of candidates for the gig behind the Hershey bench will be lengthy and the new cast will have to acclimate quickly with training camp closer by the day. Those decisions will come in time, and the 29th head coach in Bears history will have big shoes to fill both in terms of getting the Chocolate and White back to the Calder Cup, in addition to getting to know the town as Allen did. Allen’s respect for the tradition and history of the organization made him very well-liked in Hershey, and his promotion to the NHL ranks easy to see.
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