The Capitals were able to bring back the majority of the team in their attempt to win back-to-back Stanley Cups. However bench boss Barry Trotz was not among them. Trotz became only the seventh coach in the expansion era to leave his team after winning a championship.
In an NHL Q&A feature, Ted Leonsis commented on Trotz’s decision to resign and become coach for the New York Islanders.
The Capitals majority owner didn’t begrudge Trotz wanting to cash in, but was disappointed the coach reneged on a previously renegotiated clause in his contract after the Capitals won the Stanley Cup. Leonsis also revealed he could have blocked Trotz from leaving the team, but didn’t because he didn’t want to add “any negative karma or drama” to an already fraught situation.
“I live up to my contracts,” Leonsis said.
“The only thing I’ve been disappointed in is the language that’s used around it. I read something that said we had a contract dispute, and you can’t have a dispute if you have a contract. I understand that Barry did what was in his best interest and his family’s best interest and I don’t begrudge that. But we signed Barry as our coach [in 2014], and his agent asked for, ‘What happens if we win the Stanley Cup?’ And we said, ‘What would you like?’ And he said, ‘An extension of three years.’ We said, ‘How about two years?’ and they said, ‘OK.’ And then the agent said, ‘What would you like as a salary increase?’ and we said, ‘What would you like?’ And we negotiated and we came to an agreement and he signed the contract. Then, we won the Stanley Cup, and we said, ‘Congratulations. You’ve earned your extension and your raise.’
“So, there was no dispute to me. I live up to my contracts, and he resigned and went to the Islanders. We could have stopped that, but we just won a Stanley Cup together and it was like, ‘I’m going to do nothing and say nothing that adds any negative karma or drama to this.’ I’m very, very grateful to Barry. We won our first Stanley Cup and I hope he thrives and wins every game except when he plays us. But we have change in the locker room now. We have a new coach, a new voice.”
As a refresher, the team’s Stanley Cup contention window was supposedly closed after the 2016-17 season, and Trotz was considered a lame-duck coach. He was nearly fired during the season after two huge losses to Colorado and Nashville before rattling off 11 wins in 14 games.
After a come-from-behind round one win against the Columbus Blue Jackets, it appeared that Trotz mouthed the words “I’m gone. I’m gone. I’m not coming back. I’m gone,” to Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella.
Trotz was hired by the Capitals in 2014 with a four-year, $6 million deal. In the contract, there was a clause stipulating that if the Capitals won the Stanley Cup, he would be offered a two year extension with a pay bump of $300,000 per year.
Barry Trotz had a clause in his contract where if he won the Stanley Cup he could accept a two-year extension with a $300k bump in salary. Obviously since he was only making $1.5M, low by today's NHL coach's standards, a $1.8-million salary doesn't cut it. So Trotz stepped down.
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) June 18, 2018
After the Stanley Cup win, Trotz wanted a salary in the $5 million range, and when the Capitals did not reciprocate, he resigned and received a pay raise with the New York Islanders, signing a four-year, $16 million deal four days later.
Headline photo: Patrick Smith/Getty Images North America
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