Thursday morning, Capitals owner Ted Leonsis participated in the team picture. He also conducted an interview with the press to speak about Alex Ovechkin’s upcoming 1,000th game.
While holding court with reporters, Leonsis was asked about the future of Barry Trotz, now in the final year of his contract. The Capitals have won nine of the last ten games and sit first in the Metropolitan Division, but the team’s underlying play has suffered. Meanwhile, Trotz has been unable to change the team’s postseason fate; under his leadership the the Capitals have suffered three consecutive second round exits.
The question happens at the 8:30 mark.
Isabelle Khurshudyan: Kind of on a team note, you have obviously extended MacLellan, but Trotz hasn’t been extended. Does his future depend on postseason performance?
Ted Leonsis: I don’t talk about contracts. I think it’s inappropriate, especially right now.
In my head, there are three ways Leonsis could have answered this question. He could have:
Leonsis chose the third option over the other two non-answers and voiced disappointment that the topic was even broached. Option three does a few things:
I can imagine the discomfort in Ted’s situation. The Capitals organization is uncommonly private about its contracts, yet both their GM’s and head coach’s deals have been leaked to the press. That must be frustrating, and if it’s your company’s mandate to keep that stuff private, addressing the circumstances at all might legitimize those leaks in some way.
There is no evidence that Ted, unlike Dan Snyder, meddles with staff or forces personnel decisions. He has expressed in the past that he leaves the hockey decisions to his staff, following a chain of command. If he were to answer this question, he would be weighing in on a decision that’s outside his direct influence.
But Isabelle’s question was both appropriate and kind. The national media has reported Trotz’s hazy future with the club since the end of last season, while aassociate coach Todd Reirden has been called heir apparent. The story is already out there, casting a shadow over the club at a sensitive time. The question gave Leonsis a chance to clear the air, to publicly support an embattled head coach without showing his cards about Trotz’s future. Leonsis did not take that opportunity, and now Trotz’s seat feels just a little bit warmer than it was one day ago, while the team is one day closer to the playoffs.
Headline photo: NHL
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