Capitals coach Trotz: Relationship with Ovechkin 'will be fine' until they 'start playing real games'

Aug 30, 9:28 AM

Washington Capitals head coach Barry Trotz addressed his relationship with team captain and fairly one-dimensional superstar forward Alex Ovechkin, telling Josh Cooper of The Tennessean that predictions of a disconnect are overblown. 

At the same time, he suggests issues may arise if progression towards more of a two-way game isn't made evident once the puck drops on a new season.

"I think people make too much out of it," Trotz said. "I do know how I operate will be different from previous [coaching] staffs. Until we go into the season and start playing real games, our relationship will be fine."

Ovechkin led the NHL in goals last season with 51 - including 24 on the power play - but came under fire after posting a woeful minus-35 rating. 

Trotz is already on record in saying Ovechkin, "has a little too much glide maybe in his game," and will no doubt challenge his captain to exercise maximum effort at both ends of the ice.

Time will tell as to how Ovechkin reacts to Trotz's coaching style, but if the pair can find a way to mesh, it could result in Washington finally living up to their potential as Stanley Cup contenders. If not, the relationship - and the team's fortunes - could go south in a hurry.

Either way, this is one storyline that certainly bears watching this season.

Aug 4, 6:43 PM

Radulov to Ovechkin: 'I became a hockey player' under Trotz

Aug 4, 6:43 PM

Alex Ovechkin joked to Pavel Lysenkov of Sovetsky Sport about consulting Team Russia teammate and former Nashville Predators forward Alexander Radulov for advice on what to expect from new Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz, so Lysenkov decided to find out.

Radulov logged 154 regular-season games and another 18 playoff contests under Trotz while with Nashville. He left the Predators for the KHL in 2008 and again in 2012 after a very brief return, during which Trotz benched him for a pair of playoff games after he broke curfew.

But Radulov appears to have no hard feelings towards Trotz for anything that happened during his time in Nashville. Radulov showered his former coach with praise when Lysenkov asked him on Monday if he had any advice to give Ovechkin:

Bad coaches don’t work at the same club for 15 years. When I came to Nashville Trotz helped me a lot. I learned a lot. I became a hockey player. The coach trusted me, called me up from the minors. I have only the best memories of Trotz. This is a new challenge for him [in Washington]. Life changed, he had to go. But he has a lot of ideas that he will be able to realize in Washington.

Feature photo courtesy of Reuters/Christinne Muschi

Jul 29, 11:06 AM

Trotz on dinner with Ovechkin: 'You're not going to go to battle with someone you don't know'

Jul 29, 11:06 AM

As Barry Trotz prepares for his first season behind the bench in Washington, one of the firsts things on his 'to-do' list was breaking bread with Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin. The pair met in Las Vegas prior to the NHL Awards in June, and Trotz relayed Dan Rosen of NHL.com the importance of having the dinner date.

You're not going to go to battle with someone you don't know. It doesn't matter what walk of life it is, whether it's business or in war. In sports it's usually a coach and player, so he understands where I'm coming from and at the same time the player recognizes where you're coming from so you get a comfort level and you can work together better. If we're going to be successful in Washington, [Ovechkin] has to be a big part of that. It's not only him, but he's a main component, a big personality, and I have to sell my vision of the team to him because he's one of the top players. In today's sport, coaches are in a partnership with their top players.

So was there a connection made at the table?

I think it went OK. I learned a lot from that, how he thinks and how he sees the world. I know he comes from a different culture and I learned about how he views himself, how he views his job with the team. It was good. I told him what I expected. I had a bunch of questions written down and we sort of went through them. I didn't know if there would be a language barrier so I made him read the questions and try to answer them. We had some dialogue. I learned about his family, who is important in his life.


It was good. We spent probably four hours together, and I've talked to him a couple of times on the phone as well. I think not only coaching the player but coaching the person is very important.

Trotz also further qualified earlier comments that Ovechkin has "a little too much glide in his game":

I think you look at it as what's going to help you win, and Alex playing a little more on both ends of the ice, a full 200-foot game, will enhance our chance to win.

I don't want to take away from the tremendous offensive gift that he has; I actually want to enhance it. He's a lot more dangerous when he's skating, when he's moving, when he's got a little bit of room to operate. I have found him standing still a lot on the film that I'm watching, very easy to cover, and he still got 51 goals.

Trotz's relationship with Ovechkin and the success of the Capitals under his watch will be a major talking point over many a dinner table around the League next season. 

The full interview can be read here.

Feature photo courtesy of Reuters/Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Jun 28, 8:42 PM

Trotz: Ovechkin 'has a little too much glide' in his game

Jun 28, 8:42 PM

Alex Ovechkin took plenty of heat last season for his minus-35 rating, but new Washington Capitals head coach Barry Trotz offered a much different critique of the winger to reporters Saturday

"Alex has a little too much glide maybe in his game," Trotz said, via Scott Burnside of ESPN.com. "He's trying to score too much. He's getting not as much space, actually. 

"When he's moving, he can do things with the puck, he can beat you with his skill, he can beat you with his size and speed and hold you off."

Trotz would like to see Ovechkin skate back hard when he's without the puck so that when the Capitals are in possession, he's in a better position to create scoring chances.

"Sometimes when you're standing still, you think, 'Hey I'm in a position where if I get the puck I'll score,' but you're easier to cover," Trotz said. "We talked about that. That's a process. But I think he gets a little less glide in his game, he'll be as dynamic and hard to handle as he ever was."