Reirden, 47, has been on the Capitals’ bench the past four seasons as an assistant coach behind Barry Trotz. Reirden got promoted to associate coach in 2016.
Several of other teams with coaching vacancies have requested to interview Reirden the past few years such as the Buffalo Sabres and Colorado Avalanche but the Capitals denied those requests, preparing for him to succeed Trotz after he finished coaching in Washington.
Trotz resigned as head coach of the Capitals on June 18 after him and General Manager Brian MacLellan could not agree on a contract. Trotz wanted a five-year contract worth $25 million ($5 million AAV), which would make him one of the top five highest-paid coaches in the league. The Capitals offered him a two-year contract at $3.6 million ($1.8 million AAV). Trotz signed a five-year contract with the New York Islanders on June 21.
Reirden worked with the defense and the power play last year and while players were upset about Trotz’s decision, they were excited about Reirden potentially succeeding him. “If it’s Todd, it’s going to be fun.,” captain Alex Ovechkin said at the NHL Awards on June 22 in Las Vegas.
Defenseman John Carlson, who signed an eight-year contract worth $64 million ($8 million AAV) on June 24, said it would be an easier transition for the team under Reirden. “I think he did a great job of taking everybody for being different people and seeing things different ways and he seemed to connect with everyone, different personalities. I think he makes you look at the game a little bit differently than I did when I got here. Just the way I approached things and [he] really helped with certain drills or thoughts to get better in certain areas. I think he’s been big for my career.”
Reirden was an assistant coach during Dan Bylsma’s tenure with the Pittsburgh Penguins and came to Washington in 2014 when the Penguins fired Bylsma. Reirden worked with the defense and the penalty kill while he was in Pittsburgh. Rierden coached Wilkes-Barrie Scranton (Penguins’ AHL affiliate) from 2008-10 and went 55-43-8 during his tenure there.
Defenseman Michal Kempny credited Reirden for helping him revive his career after he was considering going back to Europe after this season because he was struggling with the Chicago Blackhawks. Kempny played a huge part in the Capitals winning the Stanley Cup for the first time in their 43-year history, playing alongside Carlson. Kempny signed a four-year contract worth $10 million ($2.5 million AAV) with the Capitals on Friday. He could have become an unrestricted free agent on Sunday.
By Harrison Brown