Lessons [That Can Be] Learned from the Resignation of Barry Trotz

The resignation of Barry Trotz, Head Coach, today astounded the Washington Capitals and its burgeoning fan base. For some, this occurrence is all the more surprising because of its timing. Scarcely two weeks have elapsed since Trotz, the organization, and the players, soared to the sport’s very pinnacle of success—capture of the Stanley Cup. This momentous occasion occurred after 44 years of mostly frustration and futility. 

But future ascents to the Promised Land will be attempted without the Coach—an esteemed figure to whom many informed hockey fans attribute with a large share of the credit for the team’s success. So, as the hockey world grapples with the rapid departure of the respected bench boss, what are we to make of this? How do we make sense of it?

I suggest that there are five major lessons to be learned from Trotz’ untimely departure. If you choose to interpret the event in certain ways.

1. The Decision Was Not Personal. Strive hard not to think it so. Grant that the Coach chose the course he considered to be in his and his family’s best interests. His action was not directed at the organization, his players, or the team’s fans. Spite and retribution against the fans were not at the core of his decision. End of story.

2. There Are Likely Two Sides to the Narrative. We may never know the real reasons for the abrupt departure of Barry Trotz. But this we do know, both the Capitals and their Head Coach, enjoy each other’s mutual respect. It was, as they say, “just business.” That both sides could agree to disagree without rancor and recrimination speaks to the maturity and professionalism of both the organization and the coach. In hockey, as in life, there is no need to demonize anyone.

3. Try Gratitude on for Size. Since 1974, a succession of coaches, many of them exceptional in nature, have made their best efforts to win the Cup. All but Trotz fell short of the mark for a variety of reasons, some within their control. But instead of weeping and gnashing our teeth at Barry’s departure, be grateful that he persevered and delivered. We owe him thanks, not criticism.

4. The Sun Will Still Rise Tomorrow. Over an entire generation, the fans have proved nothing if not that they are tenacious and resilient. And the team—they are professionals—and will commit themselves to working just as hard for Barry’s successor. So keep some perspective here. The Caps will seriously contend next year.

5. Maybe It Is Better This Way. Caps fans should at least acknowledge that the coach apparently chose to leave while at the top of his game—not while scratching and crawling to hold on to something that perhaps should have been released. Trotz took us where no Capitals team has gone before. It is unsettling, but nonetheless true: sometimes heroes pave the way for the next generation of leadership. Perhaps he had enough left in the tank to get us first across the finish line. Maybe he sensed that a new leader was required to build the back-to-back dynasty to which T.J. Oshie—and now all of us aspire. Besides, change happens. So a further revelation of the character of the team will dawn for us under new leadership. Make the best of it. Things happen for a reason.

Who knows what will yet transpire? Perhaps there are health reasons underlying his decision (we certainly hope not). Perhaps Barry genuinely feels he has paid his dues. Given his all to the game. Now it is time to turn the helm over to someone else. Maybe he is ready for a big pay day (no person of goodwill can really disparage him for that). Maybe we learn in the coming weeks that he leaves us to take a coaching position at another team.

But as long as he signs with a west coast team, and not our heated rivals, the Rangers, we can live with it!.

In fact, even if he signs with the Islanders, we should remember the five points above and appreciate that Barry traversed our way, if only for four seasons.

Best wishes and thanks to Barry Trotz. From him, we can and must learn.

By Jim McCarthy

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
This entry was posted in News and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Lessons [That Can Be] Learned from the Resignation of Barry Trotz

  1. “Spite and retribution against the fans were not at the core of his decision…”

    Definitely not. But since it was long rumored that he and the GM weren’t particularly fond of each other it wouldn’t surprise me to learn at a later date (perhaps in a Barry Trotz best selling memoir written years from now…) that there were some hard feelings on his part towards GMBM…(understandable)

    “That both sides could agree to disagree without rancor and recrimination speaks to the maturity and professionalism of both the organization and the coach…”

    The truth is that none of us knows what went on behind closed doors at that meeting between Trotz, his people, Brian MacLellan and Leonsis, et al. After expressing the wish to stay and also stating that he felt sure he’d be back less than three weeks ago it wouldn’t surprise me at all if there were hurt feelings and at least a smidge of rancor on Barry’s part…Unless he’s an exceptionally evolved soul why wouldn’t there be??

    Trotz is the best coach we ever had. He got this team to believe in itself and play a brand of hockey that would eventually win a Cup and this is how GMBM says “Thank You?” Really?? Wasn’t Brian quoted as saying just one week ago that Barry would be back “…if he wanted to??”

    Maybe I’m all wet about this and everyone involved at the tete a tete traded hugs, smiles and kumbayas in that conference room. I don’t know. But wherever Barry lands I certainly wish him and fam the best of everything. He deserves it…



    • DayOne Caps Fanatic says:

      Barry Trotz’s low-key style was an excellent, new behavior for Caps’ coaches through the years. Per GM McLellan’s and Mike Vogel’s column, Trotz was just an outstanding coach and man. Very much Top One Percent among his peers. One behavior I REALLY liked from Trotz was his exceedingly intelligent refusal to use his office to further himself financially — specifically, he did not make local TV commercials. Hooray to you, Barry Trotz! We had to endure such antics from several former Caps’ bench bosses. Nothing irritated me more as a Caps fan (losing perennially in the playoffs) than having to watch the Head Coach mug for the TV camera, hawking copiers or used cars or fast food or whatever, during the commercial break while some rival team was kicking the Caps’ arses!

  2. J says:

    Shocked for awhile, petty behavior by a petty organization. You have a hof coach you just gave you your 1st title in franchise history, and you cant give him the going rate? Its like a disease in the city with organizations… whether it be Nats,Caps,Etc under pay on HCs and cut em loose like garbage. Disgusting. If Santonio cut Pop loose 15 yrs again they wouldnt be the great organization they are, if Bill Bellicheck was cut loose by the Kraft family they wouldnt be the winning organization they are.
    Remind me again how many SCs did they win during OV ERA without Trotz?? Exactly thought so. Now Im fine with Reirden but this whole I “Oh we have great players and bc Pens went back to back swapping HCs or others swap coaches and won its easy like snapping your fingers its not. You need someone to deliver the right message, players will get you to the playoffs but a great coach helps get you over the top.

    Anyway, more importantly get Carlson done. They lose him to a East foe like Leafs or Devils that’ll be a bigger issue to start a uproar in the fan base. With cap rising, and Orpik coming off next year no reason they cant pay carlson. Even if it means at expense of a dsp or Kempny.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Well said!!!!

  4. Audrey McCarthy says:

    raise your hand if you thought the caps were going to make the playoffs this year, win the metro or win the Stanley cup? The reason this mix of youth and veterans reached the ultimate goal is Barry Trotz. The caps will never pay him the money he deserves so he will make it with some other team and deservingly so. Rumor has it the players didn’t like him, maybe his voice reached its shelf life. Also rumor has it the caps players felt they reached this ultimate goal because of Todd Reirden and what he taught them. You could see after every loss, the team came out with a new plan. I wish Barry the best, thank him for all he did, hope he brings home a very large paycheck in his next job and I look forward to a new season with a team who knows what it takes to win 16 games in the playoffs. I think Todd will do just fine with the guys.

  5. Pingback: Report: Trotz, Islanders Closing in On Contract | NoVa Caps

  6. Pingback: With New Contract in Hand, Carlson Aims to Be Best Defenseman in the League | NoVa Caps

  7. Pingback: Report: Capitals Hire Reid Cashman As Assistant Head Coach | NoVa Caps

  8. Pingback: Banner Night Preview: Capitals Begin Quest For Repeat Against Bruins on Wednesday | NoVa Caps

  9. Pingback: Washington at New York Preview: Capitals Collide With Trotz, Islanders For Likely The Final Time in Brooklyn | NoVa Caps

Leave a Reply