Former Washington Capitals Head Coach Barry Trotz coached Alexander Ovechkin for four seasons, and was the bench boss who witnessed The Great Eight finally hoist the Stanley Cup in 2018, after which he resigned due to a contract dispute with the team.
Trotz, who has taken some time away from an NHL bench after being fired by the New York Islanders at the conclusion of the 2021-22 season, recently appeared on The Chirp Podcast with Daren Millard and was asked about his former player’s historic night against the Chicago Blackhawks on December 13, when he recorded a hat trick to become the NHL’s third 800-goal scorer.
“Doesn’t surprise me”, Trotz said, “I’ve seen the big man when he’s got his focus on a goal, he just gets it done, he’s enthused about it. That’s the thing about Ovi, he knows that he’s creating some history but he’s doing it in different ways: his scoring, he’s become a really good leader, which his growth as a young man to a total pro, and he’s legendary now. He’s going to get that mark [Wayne Gretzky’s all-time record of 894 Goals].”
Trotz believes that had it not been for a lockout-shortened season (2012-13), a completely lost season (2004-05), and other factors, the Capitals’ longest-serving captain would have likely reached that hallowed mark prior to this season.
“The thing about him, is he’s played with such physicality you think he’d be hurt more. You think about him, he missed a couple seasons and we had a shortened season, you add another probably 200 games and he’d be there already but he missed that through lockouts and what have you. It’s amazing, he’s gonna get it, I said a long time ago that he was gonna get it and now that he has his sights on it, there’s no question he’s going to get it.”
“He’s doing it different ways”, Trotz said of Ovechkin recording a hat trick to reach 800 goals, “That just tells you how he’s grown, for me. You’ll always remember the shot from the point, there’s times where I used to chuckle, there’s reasons why he can go two minutes over there, he’s standing there, standing there. You’ll watch him and he’ll look like he’s not even interested, because he reads the play really well, and then there’s almost like a spring load, because as soon as he knows that the puck is coming is way, he has a great ability to unleash that, and contort because not every pass is perfect. He gets it on net, he finds a way to not get it blocked. Sometimes he intentionally, when a guy is doing a really good job on him, coming out and really blocking his shots, he’ll put a couple in there to soften him up a bit, and then he’ll really start launching ’em. He’s thought about all those things about goal-scoring and he’s one of those guys who when we’re long gone, he’s going to be legendary.
“It is”, Trotz responded to the continuously-impressive production Ovechkin has sustained as he’s aged, “You think about Ovi when he first came into the league, it was end-to-end rushes and highlight reels and he always had the shot, he always had his spot on the power play. But where he’s grown is he’s getting greasy goals, when he’s tired late in shifts, he’s going to the front of the net. The thing that makes him really pretty effective in the interior now is a) he’s a big beast, strong but remarkably calm because he’s so brave. He’s in a tough area and he’s not worried about someone cross-checking him or trying to run him over. and those hands are exceptional…”
To listen to Trotz talk more on Ovechkin as well as his future in coaching, click HERE.
By Michael Fleetwood