Nick Wass/Associated Press
Throughout the 2017-18 season, there has been much talk of Barry Trotz’ future as the bench boss in Washington, a position he has held for the past four seasons. After the Capitals’ loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins (a demon that has since been exorcised), General Manager Brian MacLellan came short of a vote of confidence when asked about Trotz’ future in D.C.. However, with the Caps preparing for their first Stanley Cup Final game in 20 seasons, there should be no doubt about the 2016 Jack Adams Award winning coach’s future in the District, as the Caps’ success this season should earn him a new deal from the team.
While MacLellan has stated multiple times that contract discussions with both Trotz and pending unrestricted free agent defenseman John Carlson will wait until after the postseason, Trotz, like Carlson, will almost certain be a coveted “free agent” should discussions with the Caps (assuming there is indeed some) fail to bear any sort of results. However, the Capitals should not let things get to that point, as the work Trotz has done with a less-loaded roster this season is highly commendable. The Capitals started with a 10-9-1 record through the first 20 games of the season, and sat (albeit still very early) out of the playoff picture. Throughout the early stages of the 2017-18 campaign a much younger Capitals team hit tough stretches of the schedule that tested not only their mental toughness, but also their resolve and ability to pull through them. Trotz played a key role in rallying his players back as one and the Capitals were a much better team the rest of the season, finishing first in the Metropolitan Division for the third consecutive season.
While the past playoff failures are a damper of sorts, Trotz has been nothing but successful since arriving in D.C. in 2014, going 205-89-34 in 328 games behind the Capitals bench, good enough for a .677 win percentage, and is the second-winningest coach behind only the late Bryan Murray, who holds the franchise record in wins by a head coach with 343 (a record Trotz would inevitably surpass with a multi-year contract), and is the winningest head coach in franchise history in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, having gone 32-26 (and counting) in 58 playoff games, good enough for a .552 win percentage; Trotz is one of two head coaches in franchise history with a playoff win percentage of .500 or more, the other being Dale Hunter, who coached the Capitals in 14 playoff games in 2012, going 7-7 (.500).
Trotz has also won the Jack Adams Award as the NHL’s Coach of the Year, which came during his second season (2015-16), when he guided the team to a franchise-best 56 wins. In Trotz’ four seasons behind the bench, the Capitals have won the Metropolitan Division three times (2015-16, 2016-17, 2017-18), won the President’s Trophy (best record in the league) twice (2015-16, 2016-17), and four consecutive 100-point seasons. The Capitals just won the Eastern Conference Championship for just the second time in franchise history, and are set to play the Vegas Golden Knights in the 2018 Stanley Cup Finals. Trotz’ in-game decision-making throughout this incredible postseason run have been crucial to the team’s success.
If Trotz is retained, the Capitals will face the strong possibility of losing Associate Coach Todd Reirden, who has been highly-sought after for head coaching vacancies in the past, and who many believe(d) would be Trotz’ likely successor were the team to falter this season. While losing Reirden would definitely hurt (should he interview for any head coaching positions this summer), Trotz’ overall record and results have earned him a new contract from the Capitals, win or lose the Stanley Cup Finals.
By Michael Fleetwood