Former Washington Capitals head coach Barry Trotz won the Jack Adams Trophy, which is given the NHL’s coach of the year, a year after resigning his position and taking the top job with the New York Islanders. This was Trotz’s second time as the Jack Adams winner, which he also won it in 2016 after he led the Capitals to a franchise record 56 wins.
Trotz, 56, and the New York Islanders finished one point behind the Capitals for the Metropolitan Division lead this past season. After the team gave up a league-high 293 goals in 2017-18 under Doug Weight, the Islanders yielded a league-low 191 goals this past season despite losing defenseman Calvin de Hann. The Islanders were expected to be among the draft lottery favorites after captain John Tavares left the team to sign with his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs on the first day of free agency.
The Capitals did not give Trotz a contract extension after the 2017 season when the team failed to get past the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 1998. The Capitals lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins in seven games despite winning the Presidents’ Trophy as the league’s top regular season team.
Trotz said he wanted to return as Capitals head coach after they won the Stanley Cup in 2018 but he and General Manager Brian MacLellan were unable to reach an agreement to make Trotz one of the league’s top-paid coaches. Trotz’s 2014 contract contained a clause that triggered a two-year contract extension worth $3.6 million ($1.8 million per year) if the Capitals won the Stanley Cup.
Trotz wanted a five-year contract extension worth $25 million, which would have made him one of the top five highest-paid coaches in the NHL. MacLellan said the five years Trotz wanted was the sticking point.
Despite returning the same defense from the Stanley Cup-winning team, which improved after the Capitals acquired Nick Jensen from the Detroit Red Wings at the NHL trade deadline, the Capitals gave up an average of 3.00 goals-per-game in the regular season after giving up an average of 2.54 in the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Trotz edged out St. Louis Blues head coach Craig Berube, who guided the franchise to their first Stanley Cup after the team was last in the NHL with 34 points on January 3, and Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper, who led the President’s Cup-winning team to a tie for a league-record with 62 regular-season wins.
After a remarkable regular season, Trotz and the Islanders were swept by the Carolina Hurricanes, who beat the Capitals in Game 7 of the first round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, in the second round.
By Harrison Brown