Former Capitals head coach Barry Trotz was in attendance at the Washington Mystics’ home opener on Saturday night. The Mystics played their first career regular season game in their new home, Entertainment and Sports Arena, a 118,000-square-foot multi-purpose events facility located on the St. Elizabeths East Campus in Congress Heights.
According to RMNB reader @Alagarts, Trotz and his family, including son Nolan, sat directly behind the Mystics bench. Trotz is a close friend of Mystics’ coach and general manager Mike Thibault.
Capitals owner Ted Leonsis was also in attendance and sat with Wizards superstar Bradley Beal during the second half.
According to @Alagarts, Trotz and Leonsis spoke after the game. “It looked really friendly,” he said.
That’s great news considering there was likely some friction between the two a year ago.
Trotz, the only coach to ever lead the Capitals to a Stanley Cup, resigned from the organization in June 2018 and went on to sign a five-year deal with the New York Islanders, joining Lou Lamoriello on Long Island. The Capitals promoted Todd Reirden into their vacant head coaching spot.
Despite winning back-to-back Presidents’ Trophies with the Capitals, Trotz did not get an extension before the 2017-18 season and was a lame-duck coach. Trotz was reportedly almost fired twice during the regular season. After defeating the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first round of the 2018 playoffs, the coach told John Tortorella “I’m gone. I’m gone. I’m not coming back.”
Trotz led the New York Islanders to an unlikely playoff spot this past season despite losing superstar John Tavares over the summer as an unrestricted free agent. Trotz is a finalist for the 2019 Jack Adams’ Award, given to the best NHL coach annually.
“The only thing I’ve been disappointed in is the language that’s used around it,” Leonsis said of Trotz leaving in an interview with NHL.com’s Tom Gulitti. “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.”
During Banner Raising Night, the Capitals did not mention or have Trotz in any of its video celebrating the Stanley Cup-winning team.
But in November, the Caps presented Trotz, associate coach Lane Lambert, and goaltending coach Mitch Korn with Stanley Cup rings, seemingly ending any drama if there ever was any.
“It’s going to be really hard to not like you guys, it really is,” Trotz said to his former players, tearing up. “Because you’re always family.”
Trotz is now ranked fourth on the NHL’s all-time coaching wins list with 810.
S/T and photos via @Alagarts
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