The Capitals closed out 2017 with a big win over the Devils which put them back into first place in a tight Metropolitan Division race. The victory was not only significant for standings points, it was significant for their coach, placing him in some pretty elite company.
The Capitals win over the Devils was Trotz’s 737th victory in his career and moved him into the top five on the all-time NHL coaching wins list.
“It’s crazy, isn’t it?” Trotz said following the team’s morning skate on Saturday. “This just means I’ve been very blessed to be in the game as long as I have. People that have hired me trusted me to try to put competitive teams on the ice and play with a certain culture.”
Trotz joined the Capitals after spending 15 seasons with the Nashville Predators. At the time Trotz took the coaching job for the Predators, they were an expansion team and he was the team’s first ever head coach.
“My first job as a rookie coach was non-traditional. It was non-traditional to have a rookie coach with an expansion team in a non-traditional market. (General manager) David (Poile) broke all the rules and hired me and I was very fortunate to be in one spot (for 15 years),” added Trotz.
During his time as the Predators head coach, Trotz posted a 557-479-60-100 mark. Trotz is one of just six coaches in all four of the major North American sports leagues to have coached or managed a team’s first 15 seasons of existence.
Since joining the Capitals prior to the 2014-15 season, Trotz has a record of 180-76-30. The Capitals rank first in cumulative wins (180), points (390), goals (866), goals-against (679) and power play percentage (22.8) ever since Trotz took over as head coach. During Trotz’s second and third season’s behind the Washington bench, the Capitals captured back-to-back Presidents’ Trophies, an award given to the team who has finished the regular season with the best record.
At the conclusion of the 2015-16 season, Trotz was the third coach in Capitals history to capture the Jack Adams Award (Coach of the Year), joining Brian Murray (1983-84) and Bruce Boudreau (2007-08) after setting franchise records that season in both wins (56) and road wins (27).
Last season, the Capitals captured the Presidents’ Trophy for the second year in a row, marking the seventh time in NHL history a team has achieved that feat. Their record of 55-19-8 was the second most wins and third most points (118) in franchise history. Trotz and the Capitals made their home arena a tough place to play for visiting teams as they set a franchise record 32 home wins including a stretch that saw them win 15 consecutive home games.
On the all-time NHL coaching wins list Trotz is the third active coach to be listed in the top five, joining Ken Hitchcock of the Stars and Joel Quennville of the Blackhawks. Both Hitchcock and Quennville have each posted 800 wins but it’s only a matter of time before Trotz hits the eighth-century mark. Trotz needs 45 more wins to move into fourth place and tie with Al Arbour’s mark of 782 wins.
“To be in this game for a long time, you have to have someone who trusts you to lead the charge and build the culture. You have to have good players and you got to have a good staff,” Trotz told the media after Saturday’s game. “I’ve been very blessed to have all the above and some longevity. When you have a lot of longevity for as long as I have, you end up with more wins. Honestly my first year (as an NHL head coach with the expansion Predators), I just wanted to get through the full season and not get let go. I’ve been blessed to have been standing here a lot older and a lot more game-weathered.”
By Michael Marzzacco