The Washington Capitals held a press conference call this afternoon with Cap’s Head Coach Barry Trotz. Barry fielded questions from the press, and it reminded me of this Sports Net video.
In the video Barry shares the first thing he did upon coming to Washington in preparation for his inaugural season as the team’s head coach (2014-2015 season) was to LISTEN. He says “I just listened”. The team was at an extremely low point, they had recently ended the 2013-2014 season where they failed a playoff berth. Barry’s self-directed mission was to: “Bring us together as a team”. He said “There are no floaters here, everyone is pulling on the rope”. Those statements came to the forefront of my mind as I listened to today’s conference call, where he shared the following.
He used three words to summarize the team: TRUST. DETERMINATION. RESILIENCY.
They trust one another as teammates, there is fierce determination among them and they are solidly resilient. There are no individuals here, there is a team.
UNITED. Note how Ovi (right hand corner) sprints to celebrate with Backstrom after Nicky finally sends one past Neuvirth to capture the game winning goal and the series clincher against Philadelphia in round one, game six.
PROTECT. Tom Wilson protects Holts from Sidney Crosby in round two, game five, where the Caps beat the Pens 3-1 and kept the series alive. Game six will be played Tuesday night in Pittsburgh, where the Pens lead the series 3-2.
Barry shared that the BOND in “the room” is VERY STRONG.
LEAD. This game opener will most likely stand the test of time. Oshie’s opening statement against Philadelphia’s Brayden Schenn was just 10 seconds into game five (round one). Schenn made an intentional crosscheck on Kuzy’s knees during game four, and Oshie was making an extremely clear statement about what would be tolerated by the team, and what would not be. He delivered the team’s message in superb fashion.
On CONFIDENCE Barry said that he knew yesterday (Saturday) morning that if they lost last night’s game (round two – game five), it would not be due to a lack of CONFIDENCE. Barry went further to say, “I feel like I can raise their level of confidence even further”.
He also spoke of the PAST, and I think we all need to pay attention to this statement. He said, “In this market (Washington, DC), everyone brings up the PAST.” And he continued by saying “….the PAST is NOT RELEVANT to this group”. He shared that the players are telling him that the media is continuing to bring up the past when talking with them. One of the players asked him who Pat LaFontaine was. Barry wanted to gently remind the media that the past and references to Pat LaFontaine and other Washington Capital’s historical moments and or failures in time “has no effect on the current group of players“.
Barry said that “We can not change the PAST. We can only change what we are going to do in the next game”. In the regular season if we lost a game, our plan was not to lose a second game – and that plan was executed well in the regular season and it happened again in Saturday night’s game five. Barry was pleased that the team didn’t panic, they had a solid game plan, they managed the puck well and therefore the game well.
In case some of you are interested in who Pat LaFontaine is: in the 1987 Stanley Cup playoffs, LaFontaine scored the winning goal in the fourth overtime period of the seventh and decisive game between the Islanders and Washington Capitals, known as the “Easter Epic”. The game was started on Saturday, April 18, and concluded just before 2 a.m. on the 19th, Easter Sunday. “It was the most memorable moment in my hockey life,” he later recalled. “Even today, wherever I go, people come up to me and start telling me where they were during the Easter Epic.” But what does this have to do with the 2015-2016 team, nothing – absolutely nothing, not relevant — it’s time to put the past to rest.
Let’s let this team create their own history. NoVa Cap’s contributor Scott Zweibel said it well in his recent article, “One moment at a time, one shift at a time, one period at a time, and only one game at a time”. One down, two to go.
Sleep well Capitals fans. And get excited for this team to show up on the ice on Tuesday!
By Beckie Kulak Reilly