The Washington Capitals will honor their Stanley Cup-winning coach on Friday as Barry Trotz returns to DC as bench boss of the New York Islanders — his first trip back to Capital One Arena at the helm of a new team.
“I wasn’t there that long, so I’m a little bit surprised that they would do that,” Trotz said when asked about the video tribute. “But I’m thankful and appreciative of that.”
Trotz already met with Capitals when they were on the road at Barclays Center in November and received his championship ring in an emotional locker room ceremony. But this is the first time since June that Capitals fans will have the opportunity to celebrate his contributions and success.
Tribute videos can be tearjerkers, but Trotz hopes he’ll keep it together.
“I’m a softie when it comes to—I’ll cry during watching ‘The Notebook’ on TV when it’s on, [I’m] an emotional type guy,” Trotz said. “I think I’ll be okay but I appreciate the organization, the players, the fans, all the support people around the game.”
“Seeing the guys again for the first time [at the ring ceremony], that was more emotional,” Trotz continued. It’s lucky they had that opportunity already because the Isles visit will have to be brief due to the NHL schedule. They play the New Jersey Devils at home on Thursday night and will have a short turn-around time with another home game on Sunday against the Ducks.
Trotz emphasized how much he appreciated the rest of the support staff in Washington.
“I think from my standpoint it’s going to be nice to see the people…for four years I got to see in the arena,” he said. “We all became very close. Got some wonderful people there, be able to say some goodbyes to people I never got a chance to.”
Trotz viewed his team–the players and the surrounding staff–as a family. And his family-first approach is what made an impression on forward Devante Smith-Pelly during the year he played for Trotz.
“What stood out was how much he cared about everyone’s family,” Smith-Pelly said after practice Thursday. “I’ve played for some coaches who, you know, you’re at the rink and they never ask what’s going on outside. Trotzy always wanted to know what’s going on with people’s family and make sure guys get time off to spend with their young children and stuff like that.
“I don’t have any young children so I just got the day off,” he added with a smile.
Trotz said that he hoped associate coach Lane Lambert and goalie coach Mitch Korn would be included in the video, a sentiment echoed by goaltender Braden Holtby.
“I hope it’s very well done, and it’s very well earned,” Holtby said. “And I think it’ll be good. I think it’ll be nice for him and for us to kind of put an end to that chapter and everything, and for both to move on because it’s a little late in the year…Not just him but with Lane and Mitch as well.”
Alternate captain Nicklas Backstrom tempered his appreciation with a little humor.
“I”m sure he’ll be well-received here tomorrow, and he should be, because he deserves it,” Backstrom said. “But after that I hope we can save him a couple bucks.”
The “couple bucks” was a reference to Trotz having to put “money on the board.” Justin Bourne explained in his piece for Hockey News that a former player has to put up money during a game against their former team. If the returning player’s team wins, that money is collected for a team fund.
(Backstrom’s a fan of the phrase.)
Also, in case you didn’t get why Nicklas Backstrom said in media last night he already got a birthday present from the team: “Money on the board” https://t.co/zgZWluYQyx
— Kate Monster 🏒❤️ (@KateMonster08) November 24, 2018
Trotz’s focus, like Backstrom’s, is on the stakes of the game. The Islanders are third in the Metropolitan Division, trailing only Washington and Columbus, defying the lackluster preseason predictions.
“We’re going to try [to] go in there and get two points,” Trotz said to NHL.com’s Brian Compton. “I’m going to treat it like any other game.”
Headline photo: NHL
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