Barry Trotz interested in Capitals' head coaching job: 'A new challenge is really exciting'

May 12, 5:26 PM

Barry Trotz is without question one of the more coveted available NHL head coaches after having been let go by the Nashville Predators back in April. 

In a telephone interview with the Washington Post on Monday, Trotz admitted he spoke to the Capitals about their vacancy, and that "a lot of things excite" him about the team:

[The Capitals] were one of the first teams to reach out and asked what my plans were. I told them I would like to coach and they said they would love to talk to me. But obviously, they’re in the search for their general manager right now. From my standpoint of wanting another opportunity, a lot of things excite me about the Capitals and the other teams that are out there. A new challenge, to me, is really exciting.

The 51-year-old is aware that many teams looking for a coach are in transition or still in the assessment phase, so it may take some time for him to find a new home. He's willing to be patient:

Every team is a little different [with the timeline]. Some teams are still in the general manager search, some teams are taking their time, they’ve made changes and are reassessing where they are as a group. I don’t expect anything to happen or really to get going until the end of this month and the first part of June.

Trotz posted a coaching record of 557-479-60-100 in 1,196 games with the Predators.

The full interview can be read here.

May 27, 1:48 PM

Capitals introduce coach Trotz and new GM MacLellan, who criticized ownership in interview

May 27, 1:48 PM

On Tuesday afternoon in Washington D.C., Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis and team president Dick Patrick introduced their new brain trust, which includes new general manager Brian MacLellan and new head coach Barry Trotz. Together they'll steer the Capitals through what owner Leonsis was careful to describe as a "refresh" rather than a "rebuild."

Describing the dual hirings as "a bold decision," Leonsis described at length his interview process for the successor to long-time Capitals general manager George McPhee, who was fired this past April. Leonsis said the club interviewed 15 or so candidates, though they never spoke to Wayne Gretzky about the job.

It was MacLellan who caught Leonsis' eye, and he did it by "pulling a Costanza," as Pro Hockey Talk described it. 

"I'll tell you that (MacLellan) led off with some of the things that I have to do to be a better owner," Leonsis told the gathered press. "I thought that was very brave and very astute, because you don't want to hear things like that."

Leonsis praised the new Capitals general manager for being straightforward, brave, honest, and authentic in telling him what he felt was going wrong for the organization on the ownership side of things. "I liked that brutal honesty he brought," continued Leonsis.

Asked about the exchange, MacLellan said, "I didn't think I had anything to lose." He then elaborated on what he was trying to communicate with Leonsis with his bold, critical, interview gambit: "The important point I was trying to make is that I think the team feels when there's a disconnect, or not a unified philosophy from ownership to management to coach.

"I think all three of us need to have a team approach going forward, anything we communicate or live by going forward will come from team, and we'll speak it."

In contrast with MacLellan who required a catchy ploy to beat out a field of 15, Barry Trotz was the only coach the Capitals interviewed. During his introductory comments, Trotz addressed his history with the Capitals organization. The long-time Predators coach got his first professional head-coaching job with the AHL's Baltimore Skipjacks (now known as the Portland Pirates), while they were a Capitals affiliate and said returning to Washington "Feels like ... coming home."

Trotz's teams in Nashville were best known for playing a 200-foot game and deploying a generally conservative offensive philosophy, although that may have been tailored to the personnel he had to work with. Asked about what style the Capitals will play under his stewardship, Trotz held his cards close to the vest:

I always say, you don't know until you own it. My first priority is to reach out to all existing staff members, all the players ... To find out more about the group and that's where it starts. 

Then from there, as an outsider ... there's a lot of talent up front, a lot of goal scoring. We've talked a lot about math and numbers, well, the only math question I want solved is that we have one more goal than the other team every night, that's a good sum. There's a lot of good pieces ... There's pretty good depth, they've drafted pretty well, and I'll get an opportunity to work with these young men. 

Trotz added that he spoke with former Nashville Predators forward and current Capitals winger Joel Ward about the Capitals, and that Ward had nothing but praise for the people and players in the organization.

Feature photo courtesy of Getty/Patrick Smith

May 26, 10:58 PM

Capitals owner Leonsis: Hiring of Trotz, promotion of MacLellan 'a refresh, not a reboot'

May 26, 10:58 PM

Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis took to his blog Monday to explain the hiring of Barry Trotz as the team's new head coach and the promotion of assistant general manager Brian MacLellan to the role of GM, describing the moves as "a refresh, not a reboot."

He explained the rationale for promoting MacLellan rather than from outside the organization:

While we felt we needed to make significant changes – and we did by moving on the GM and coach – we also didn’t feel we had to completely rebuild or start from scratch ... Brian has incredible knowledge regarding all the players in our system, but what impressed us was his philosophy when it came to all personnel matters – the draft, player development, minor-league affiliations and amateur and pro scouting.

Following that decision, Leonsis said the hiring of Trotz became "priority No. 1" and that the former Predators head coach's accomplishments speak for themselves.

"We actually felt extremely fortunate that he was available to us. What he has accomplished thus far is amazing, and we hope that our environment will allow him and us to reach much greater heights," he wrote.

Finally, Leonsis said it was important that MacLellan and Trotz shared "similar philosophies regarding team structure, style of play and the changes [the Capitals] need to make as an organization." 

Leonsis said Trotz and MacLellan are on the same page.

"There is an alignment in their thinking...There is a belief in a common system that will allow individual talents – offensive, defensive and goaltending – to flourish while committing to a style of play that will be the most beneficial to our team."

Time will tell if these hirings pay off in terms of a long awaited Stanley Cup parade in Washington.

Feature photo courtesy of Geoff Burke-US PRESSWIRE

May 26, 6:04 PM

Capitals hire Barry Trotz as head coach, promote Brian MacLellan to GM

May 26, 6:04 PM

The Washington Capitals made two major announcements Monday, promoting Brian MacLellan to senior vice president and general manager and naming Barry Trotz as the team’s coach.

The announcement was made via Capitals Today, with the following statement from owner Ted Leonsis:

We are extremely pleased to name Brian MacLellan the team’s general manager and welcome Barry Trotz to Washington as the Capitals coach. 

After conducting an extensive search for a general manager, we determined that Brian was the best candidate to help us reach our ultimate goal, winning the Stanley Cup ... We feel he has relevant, in-depth knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses of our franchise and will be forceful in addressing them.

We are also excited to welcome Barry back to the Capitals organization. Barry is a highly respected and accomplished coach who brings us a wealth of experience. He possesses high character and the exact leadership qualities we look for in the head coach. He was the only coach we coveted, and we feel he is an ideal fit to help lead our club.

Trotz, 51, becomes the 17th coach in Capitals history and joins Washington after spending 15 seasons as coach of the Nashville Predators. He ranks 15th on the NHL’s coaching wins list and fourth among active coaches, behind Joel Quenneville (Chicago), Ken Hitchcock (St. Louis) and Lindy Ruff (Dallas).

“I am very excited to join the Washington Capitals," Trotz said. “This is a great organization with a strong foundation and a tremendous fan base. I look forward to working with this group of talented players and the quality front office staff this team has assembled.”

MacLellan, 55, becomes the sixth general manager in the Capitals history; he has been with the team for the past 13 seasons with Washington, seven as the team’s assistant general manager. 

"Over the course of my career I have worked in acquiring the necessary skills to excel in this position," he said. "We have built a solid foundation, and I look forward to implementing my ideas to get us back to competing for the Stanley Cup."

Both men will be tasked with improving a team built around superstar Alex Ovechkin; the Capitals failed to make the playoffs in 2014, taking a big step backwards in the midst of ongoing Stanley Cup aspirations.

May 24, 7:57 PM

Reports: Capitals and Barry Trotz closing in on deal

May 24, 7:57 PM

Multiple reports indicate the Washington Capitals are close to hiring Barry Trotz as the team's new head coach.

ESPN also reported that Trotz is considered a "front-runner" for the job, but there is nothing formal in place yet.

Trotz attracted interest from numerous teams after being let go by the Nashville Predators.

Washington is also looking for a new general manager, prompting some people to wonder on Twitter whether pursuing Trotz first is the right move.

If Trotz does join the Capitals, he will be joining a franchise that is looking for its fourth coach in four seasons.

May 21, 11:42 AM

Report: Barry Trotz goes to Washington; has talks with Capitals

May 21, 11:42 AM

Barry Trotz has already indicated his keen interest in taking over as the head coach of the Washington Capitals, and this week he was in the American capital to talk with the team per Sportsnet's John Shannon

It's not immediately clear whether or not Trotz was formally interviewed, but since the Capitals are still without a general manager it would seem a bit odd if he had. According to TSN's Darren Dreger, however, Trotz met with Ted Leonsis and team president Dick Patrick, which sure makes it sound like a pretty formal conversation.

Trotz is the hottest commodity on the NHL head coaching market at the moment, and his hand was strengthened when the Pittsburgh Penguins made the surprise decision to retain head coach Dan Bylsma (for now). 

Gary Lawless of the Winnipeg Free Press reports that in addition to the Capitals, the Florida Panthers, Carolina Hurricanes and probably Vancouver Canucks remain hot-for-Trotz.

Feature photo courtesy of USA TODAY Sports/ Jerome Miron

May 20, 11:39 AM

Report: Barry Trotz, Doug Houda among the candidates for Canucks head coaching job

May 20, 11:39 AM

The Vancouver Canucks are reportedly poised to hire a new general manager in Boston Bruins assistant general manager Jim Benning this week, so attention is about to turn to the Canucks' search for a new head coach. 

According to a report from TSN's Darren Dreger, former Nashville Predators bench boss Barry Trotz is high on the Canucks' list of possible candidates to replace John Tortorella. Trotz has a summer home in British Columbia and has indicated his interest in working for the Canucks this offseason.

The name of another possible candidate emerged during an appearance by TSN's Bob McKenzie on Team 1040 sportstalk radio in Vancouver. Said McKenzie, "Another name that I've heard is Doug Houda, who is the assistant coach with Claude Julien of the Boston Bruins - so maybe there's a connection (with Benning) there."

The 47-year-old Houda appeared in 561 NHL games with a variety of teams during his playing career and has never worked as a head coach in professional hockey. He seems to run the Bruins penalty-kill, which has had enormous success over the years, and has worked with the Bruins as an assistant since 2006.

Both Dreger and Vancouver Province Canucks beat writer Jason Botchford also mentioned Texas Stars head coach Willie Desjardins as a candidate that Canucks brass is expected to strongly consider.

May 8, 8:47 PM

Report: Capitals, Panthers and Hurricanes have contacted Barry Trotz about coaching vacancies

May 8, 8:47 PM

Former Nashville Predators head coach Barry Trotz, who was the longest tenured bench boss in the NHL prior to being relieved of his duties in Nashville in late April, was a guest analyst on CBC's broadcast of Game 4 of the second round Stanley Cup playoff series between the Boston Bruins and the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night.

As Trotz stretches his legs in the analysts chair, however, he's generating significant interest from at least three teams with a vacant head coaching position. According to a report from TSN's Darren Dreger, Trotz has been contacted by all of the Washington Capitals, Florida Panthers and Carolina Hurricanes about potentially taking over as head coach.

Trotz discussed the interest he's received on Thursday in an appearance on Vancouver sports talk radio station the Team 1040. "At this point, I am in absolutely no hurry to do anything," said the veteran head coach per MetroNews. "I’ve been contacted by a few teams. As I said, I’m in no rush to do anything right now. Everybody has their own time frame. There’s a couple of teams that have basically said, ‘Give us some time and you’re on our short list.’ So that’s where I am."

Trotz also specifically discussed his interest in the head coaching vacancy in Vancouver. "I’m interested in every job that’s out there right now," said Trotz, before admitting his affection for the Pacific Northwest in general: "Obviously I have a home in British Columbia, in the Vernon area."

Continued Trotz: "I’ve watched the Canucks organization a little bit from afar and played against them in recent years and there’s a lot of quality people there, so absolutely. I’m interested in every opportunity right now."