Game Seven of the Stanley Cup Final was scheduled for Wednesday night. Instead, the Washington Capitals have been wildly celebrating their first Cup win in the franchise’s 44-year history for almost a week.
Caps head coach Barry Trotz, who ranks fifth all-time in NHL wins, guided them to that championship. But despite the Stanley Cup victory, Trotz’s first, his future with the Capitals is unknown. His contract expires in July. Trotz is currently engaged in discussions with Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan.
“We’re talking about it,” Trotz told reporters Wednesday at the team’s final media availability of the season. “I do want to be back. There’s some things that we have to work out. I’ve talked to Mac. If we can get them worked out, then there’s no question. I love the group of guys. I love the situation I’m in with the team, the location for my son and my wife and all that. So all that’s in place. There’s some issues that we’ve got to just work through, and we will and we’ll go from there. We’ll just work through it.”
The likely number one issue: the status of associate coach Todd Reirden, who was promoted from an assistant coach two seasons ago. As part of that deal, the Capitals prevented Reirden from interviewing for any head coaching positions.
“There are a few issues we have to work on,” Trotz, 55, said when asked if the coaching staff would remain the same next season should he return.
If Trotz is gone, as he almost was after a terrible losing streak last November, Reirden has been groomed to take over. If Trotz stays, it is likely that Reirden will be out the door.
“He’s got great potential,” Oilers head coach Todd McLellan, who has worked with Reirden, said of the coach in 2016. “You look at his path from developing player early in his career and then his time in the minors, his stay at the national league level, some of the coaches he’s been around, and the organizations he’s been through, his body of work, I think all of those qualities put him in a category that soon people will be talking about him as a future head coach.”
Before the Capitals scooped him up, Reirden, 46, was an assistant with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He previously was the head coach of the Pens’ AHL affiliate.
Since Trotz took the helm in the summer of 2014, a few weeks before then-assistant GM MacLellan took over George McPhee’s job, the Capitals have won the Metropolitan Division three times, the Presidents’ Trophy twice, and the Stanley Cup. Under Trotz, the Capitals never finished with fewer than 101 points.
MacLellan said the team wants to re-sign Trotz.
“We’re going to try,” the general manager said Wednesday. “I talked to Barry this morning. I’ll talk to ownership over the next week or so and we’ll continue to discuss everything. … I don’t know. We’ll find out.”
To a man, Capitals players effusively praise Trotz, who they credit with fostering a unique chemistry on the team that has led to their success.
“Yeah, why not?” captain Alex Ovechkin said when asked the team if should retain Trotz. “Why wouldn’t you?”
“For me and for all the guys, basically it’s his decision,” Ovechkin added. “He have to do it right and I’m pretty sure he will do it the right way.”
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