Former Capitals Head Coach Barry Trotz On Leaving Washington: “There Was Sort of An Agreement There, A Verbal Agreement, And at the End of the Day It Didn’t Come Through”

Just days after the Washington Capitals held their first-ever Stanley Cup championship parade through the streets of the Nation’s Capital in June 2018, then-Head Coach Barry Trotz announced his resignation after failing to agree to financial terms on a new contract.

Feeling as though the financial compensation he would receive on a two-year extension clause that was not on the level of some Stanley Cup-winning coaches, Trotz resigned and subsequently was hired by the New York Islanders, who relieved him of his duties at the end of last season.

After fielding offers from other teams he decided to step away for family reasons. Since the 2018 championship, the Caps have failed to advance beyond the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

“Well just to clarify that a little bit”, Trotz said about the situation in an appearance on The Cam & Strick Podcast, hosted by former NHL enforcer Cam Janssen and longtime NHL reporter Andy Strickland.

“I had a clause in my contract where, there was an extension that would kick in. But when I joined the club, and I met with the people in charge, I said you know, the coaching, everybody’s going, it’s going up. So I said ‘you know if we win a Cup, I’d like to be sort of in the Top 10, I’ll be tenth, I’ve been in the league a long time.'” There was sort of an agreement there, a verbal agreement, and at the end of the day, it didn’t come through, so you know I said, I’m gonna sort of resign, and walked away.”

Trotz revealed that there were no opportunities open to him at the time he made the decision.

“There were no jobs, the Islanders job was the only one out there, and I was like, you know, I didn’t know Lou [Islanders President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Lou Lamoriello) or anybody, I was just gonna take the year off, and then all of a sudden I’m the next coach of the Islanders.”

Trotz insists, however, that he has nothing bad to say regarding his time in Washington.

“But to me, it was plain and simple, my decision to do that. To me, I love my time in Washington, the franchise is a great franchise, and I loved the players. You win a cup with those guys you’re tied to [them]. Those are great memories, and I don’t have a bad word to say regarding my situation. I just knew I got the best advice to do what’s right, and it felt I was doing what was right.”

The Capitals’ post-Stanley Cup victory celebrations in the summer of 2018 often included the fans and the community, from Nationals Park to swimming in fountains.

“I’m going to take responsibility for that whole act, for their actions”, said Trotz. “One of the things I said to the players when we met, when we won the Cup, that fan base has struggled with all those disappointments for so long. I said to the players, ‘You guys, whatever you do I want you to enjoy this, we’re tied together forever. But if you get the chance, take this to the streets, the fan base really needs this.’ And they did”, Trotz said with a laugh. “Those are fantastic stories…”

The third-winningest Head Coach in NHL history (914 wins) also glowed about Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin.

“Ovi is going to be a really great dad. You know, when he went to Washington as a young guy, he was given the keys to city, you know obviously he was a first pick overall so they weren’t very good, and he owned the city as a young guy. And I think as he matured and got older, he learned to be a captain. He always thought if I score my goals, and I’m hitting and doing all that, I’m doing my job. When I got there, I tried to add to his job description, said Trotz,

“You have to care about everybody else first, you’ve got to take care of this, you’re going to have to block the shot when it matters, you’re going to have to give something up for the group, and he did.” Trotz said that meeting his wife Nastya and becoming father to sons Sergei and Ilya, have reinforced that mentality in the Caps’ captain.

“I think when he met his wife, I could see him growing into that because he was serious with Nastya and they got married and had children. He’s going to be a great dad. There’s an age difference, but if he was retired, he was sixty like I am, he’d be a guy you’d hang with.”

While it is unclear whether Trotz will be behind a bench anytime soon, the thought of coaching one of the NHL’s Original Six franchises is an intriguing one.

“I don’t know that any coach that takes a job in Canada ever wants to deal with it [media scrutiny]”, Trotz said of the pressure faced by his fellow bench bosses that are hired by the NHL’s Canadian clubs.

“You know an Original Six, for me I’ve never coached an Original Six, that would intrigue me.” While he did not grow up during the Original Six era, Trotz says the grandeur around the six teams is something that is always present.

“Those teams always intrigue you, but the Canadian teams, you’re under the microscope, you sort of are in New York too. I wouldn’t say I wouldn’t, but you know that there’s a certain demand on you…I think it takes a special coach, special player to play in Canada, ’cause there’s a different pressure than some of the non-traditional markets.”

To listen to Trotz’ entire time on the podcast, see the podcast video below:

By Michael Fleetwood

About Michael Fleetwood

Michael Fleetwood was born into a family of diehard Capitals fans and has been watching games as long as he can remember. He was born the year the Capitals went to their first Stanley Cup Final, and is a diehard Caps fan, the owner of the very FIRST Joe Beninati jersey and since then, has met Joe himself. His favorite player became former Capital Nate Schmidt after he met Schmidt in a Hershey hotel while in Hershey PA to see the Bears play, shortly after Schmidt was injured during a conditioning stint. Michael is also a fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Orioles, and enjoys photography, watching WildEarth TV's SafariLive live safaris, and watching animals in his spare time. (Photo by Adam Vingan in 2014 at the Capitals Development Camp).
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25 Responses to Former Capitals Head Coach Barry Trotz On Leaving Washington: “There Was Sort of An Agreement There, A Verbal Agreement, And at the End of the Day It Didn’t Come Through”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I heard that Barry was planning on leaving the Caps half way through the cup year, no matter what happened.

  2. Diane Doyle says:

    The situation of Barry Trotz leaving the Caps after winning the Stanley Cup was reminiscent of Johnny Keane leaving the St Louis Cardinals when they won the 1964 World Series. Keane took job with their opponents. That job didn’t work out at all and he was dead just two years later. Keane was nearly fired during that season as the Cards did not get off to a great start but caught fire late. They even had an “heir apparent” in the organization. (That heir apparent did not become their next manager. Instead, they promoted one of the coaches.)

  3. Anonymous says:

    I think Barry is still holding back, but glad he’s finally beginning to speak about it. Typical Trotz, he places any blame on himself.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Barry will ALWAYS be a legend in DC. Period.

  5. Jonathan says:

    I’m also glad to here him open up about it, and tell us enough to understand the context a little better, and it makes sense given the values he instilled in the team. We were lucky to have him, and without him, we don’t have a championship. I know that. The whole CBJ series. It was so much an expression of the previous two seasons of development he painstakingly worked at with the team, and without that immense effort at culture change, and attention to defensive detail, we don’t win that series, and we don’t win vs Tampa Bay. The bulldog personality of the coach was exhibited on ice. It was why it felt like a crime for him not to be signed to a reasonable pay raise. Without him, that team personality eroded. As mentioned recently, that 2018 team didn’t have the best 5v5 numbers, but it didn’t matter. Trotz’s system was what mattered, and that’s what got them over the hump. Can Trotz find a team and fan base who will be patient as the 2016-2018 Washington fans and in a culture that was pre-main stream analytics? Unlikely. He’s not going to have the lead rope to do that with a original six team, I don’t think. The Canadians are so impatient with their coaches anyway. Trotz has to have patience, and has to have a gm and ownership that is supportive to his efforts. The Islanders continued to refuse to put up the money to make the team better. That’s not Trotz’s fault. He can only work with the basic material that he has, not what it should be. The one place I’d hate to see him coach because of the significant memories of 2018 would be Vegas. Anywhere else but there. He’s might be better off with a newer organization though because even if they are analytic geeks, he would have cred as a Stanley Cup Champion coach, which I think he needs, because he’s not changing his style. It works.

    I’m sure Trotz’s was hurt by the unwillingness to honor what he considered to be a verbal agreement when he was hired, and did what he thought was right. He coaches the value of honor and principal, because that’s the type of thing he believes in and adheres to in his own life, and encourages that type of mentality for the team. Honesty. Accountability. Follow through with your commitment. Consider the team before yourself. Mutual agreement of commitment. Being on the same page.

    I’m glad I got to hear what was unsaid at the time. I wish him the best, because he is the best! Glad he has warm feelings and praise for the organization, and not just the team.

    • Jonathan says:

      If I were to wish a team on him from Canada, it would be either Edmonton, or Toronto. Both have talented forwards that need defensive help. He’d be a great coach for either one. Toronto would finally achieve what they want.

  6. Anonymous says:

    The Caps not paying him the raise was absolutely criminal.

    I think the Caps had a decent shot of going back to back if they got past the Canes

    • Jonathan says:

      No question. Caps ownership and management had a window of opportunity that they closed.

    • Anonymous says:

      DC Scappeli, it’s not a rumor… your exactly correct! It all started with the front office and T. Reardon when B. Trotz went to coach the 2016 World Cup. T. Reardon as the asst. coach got the team going through camp and the Pre-Season. It was during this time that the decision was made to make T. Reardon the H. C. after Trotz’s contract was up… Never thinking at that time, The Washington Capitals would be Stanley Cup Champions the last year of B. Trotz’s contract. Obviously w/ this, you can see why Trotz re-signed.

  7. Della Young says:

    I still love what Trotz said during locker room celebrations in Vegas after winning the Cup: “There’s no one left to beat, boys!”

  8. Anonymous says:

    Long live Barry Trotz!

  9. DC Scappeli says:

    maybe Barry is being polite and taking the high road, but having Todd Rearden annointed as the assistant head coach by the front office and being touted as the heir apparent, had to have rubbed him the wrong way. I mean, the front office was kind of sticking it to Barry by doing that.

    In my own professional life, I’ve been the target of getting moved out of the way for the younger guy. But what was worse was the whispering campaign by certain parties, smearing my professional worth. I saw the writing on the wall and put my papers in when the time was right and left. I dunno if this was what was going on with Trotz, but I wonder if he heard the rumors about him getting sacked mid season trickling out.

  10. steven says:

    Echo that Trotz is/was/and always will be a class act. My feelings are the Caps had the opportunity to win back-to-back but ownership and management decided to do what they always do and go cheap on coaching. They will spend money on older players who dont produce but not on a coach who proved what he could do with this group of players.

  11. Patrick says:

    The original 6 was a great time . I started watching hockey in the late 50s seeing my first game at the original Madison square garden. Steps, no escalators. My first hockey board game had metal original Toronto and canadeien players.! U could buy the other team men for the game from the game company. We tore those games up.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Shoulda paid the man. We won’t hoist again in the Ovechkin era. Barry had soul.

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