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.”
— Andy Strickland (@andystrickland) October 25, 2022
“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