By Mike Mastovich
JOHNSTOWN, Pa. – The NHL lockout cost Ted Dent his job with the Washington Capitals.
But the labor impasse also provided the former Johnstown Chiefs scoring leader with an opportunity to coach.
In turn, that opportunity will bring Dent back to Johnstown Wednesday with the Trenton Titans. Dent assists Titans coach Mike Haviland.
“I have a lot of good memories from Johnstown,” said Dent, a Chiefs alternate captain in 1993-94 and 1994-95. “I met a lot of good people in the town, real nice families that are still living there. I had great teammates and a good coaching staff. I still keep in touch with them today. Johnstown will always be a special place for me in my hockey career.”
Dent has been looking forward to his return to the War Memorial.
The former center had 30 goals, a team-best 84 points and 161 penalty minutes during his first season in Johnstown. The 1993-94 team won a then-record 37 games and had a Chiefs all-time best 10-game winning streak. Coach Eddie Johnstone’s Chiefs advanced to the playoffs before falling to the heavily favored Columbus Chill in a three-game series.
Dent was on a line with high-scoring right wing Bruce Coles and rugged left wing Gord Christian.
“Colsie was a sniper,” Dent said. “My job was to get him the puck. He could score like no other at that point, at that level. He made my job easy and we clicked right off the bat. Gord was an up-and-down, big winger. He’d get in front of the net and cause commotion.”
Dent had 33 points in 46 games with the 1994-95 Chiefs before a trade to Charlotte.
His professional career concluded after four games with Toledo in 1996-97.
But the Toronto native turned to the off-ice preparation and worked his way into a role as the Capitals’ video coach, a position he held for five years under three Washington head coaches.
“A big part of my job was scouting the opposition through video,” Dent said. “I formulated reports through video, and we prepared as a team for what we were up against. At the same time, we studied things about our team, face-offs, special teams.”
Dent was comfortable in his role. But that changed when the NHL owners and players butted heads this offseason.
“The lockout, in Washington they prepared for a whole year lockout,” Dent said. “They got rid of some jobs for the whole season, and mine was one of them.”
His connections in the NHL and throughout the minors helped Dent land on the Titans’ bench next to Haviland, who led Atlantic City to a Kelly Cup title two seasons ago before taking the Trenton job.
“It worked out for the best,” Dent said. “I wanted to get into the coaching side of things. I worked with some great coaches in Washington that taught me a lot. I want to use that experience, get out on my own and do some coaching myself.”
Dent, 35, and his wife Katherine have two children, Dylan, 4, and Morgan, 2. The family still resides in Annapolis.
“I’ve been back to Johnstown once since I played,” Dent said.