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Trotz: ‘I don’t want to take anything away from the Capitals offensively’

May 27, 2014, 2:10 PM EDT

BarryTrotz Getty Images

Barry Trotz was introduced as the 17th head coach in Washington Capitals history on Tuesday, and one of his first objectives was to clarify that the Caps won’t sacrifice offense for defense.

“I don’t want to take anything away offensively at all. I didn’t have enough of that [offense] in Nashville,” Trotz explained. “The team takes on the identity of the top players — in Nashville it was Pekka Rinne, Ryan Suter and Shea Weber.

“The strength of this team is dynamic forwards, size, good depth, leadership and good people in the room. I don’t want to take anything away form the Capitals offensively.”

These quotes, obviously, will be of interest to Washington captain Alex Ovechkin, who has become one of the league’s most polarizing players due to his dynamic goalscoring ability — arguably the best in the NHL — and his lacklustre defensive efforts (like when ex-head coach Adam Oates called him out for quitting on a goal against Dallas, seen here):

To further illustrate the disparity between offensive and defensive abilities, Ovechkin finished with an NHL-best 51 goals this year… and the league’s third-worst plus-minus rating, at minus-35.

Trotz said that while he’s yet to speak about Ovechkin and his role on the team, he does have some ideas about how No. 8 can be successful “within the group.”

“Ovi scores a lot,” Trotz said. “But he can contribute in many ways.”

Despite remarks about keeping the offense intact, it’s pretty obvious Trotz was brought aboard to adjust how the Caps play the game — or at least approach it — from a defensive perspective. New GM Brian MacLellan spoke at length about the club needing to change certain facets of its identity, and said a big reason Trotz was brought aboard was due to the stability and consistency his teams displayed in Nashville.

“One of the things I like about Barry’s coaching style is it’s a consistent, disciplined style for 82 games a year,” MacLellan explained. “They don’t veer off it.”

There’s also the not-so-small issue of Washington getting back into playoff and Stanley Cup contention. The Caps missed for the first time in six seasons this year and while Trotz doesn’t have a wealth of postseason runs — his Preds teams never advanced past the second round — he was adept at getting Nashville into the dance, as it qualified for seven of his last 10 seasons on the job.

Trotz said that the key was to qualify for the playoffs because once the team’s in, anything can happen. And as for how long he thinks it’ll take for Washington to get back to being a Cup contender?

“With a couple of adjustments,” he said, “I don’t see why we can’t be in the mix right away.”

  1. capsnbohs23 - May 27, 2014 at 2:11 PM

    Get your popcorn ready, the ovi comments are coming….

  2. joey4id - May 27, 2014 at 2:22 PM

    The Ovi topic has already heated up in Wsh.

    It’s not about taking anything away offensively. It’s really about what he and MacLellan will be able to add defensively. Will it be Hunter like, or Bourdreau or Oates like? Will the back end personnel change? You can’t ask Ovi to play d a la Toews, but they need to get his buy in to contribute defensively. Just a little bit more…. is that asking for too much?

  3. jrocknstuff - May 27, 2014 at 2:22 PM

    He isn’t wrong when he says a couple of adjustments. Washington mainly lacked leadership and goaltending. In the goaltending department I’m still not convinced that Holtby can’t be the man. He had a brutal season and his confidence is shaken, but he’s proven in the playoffs that he can put the team on his back…..I’m not so sure he won’t find his game again. As for leadership, that’s another story. I like Ovechkin. I think he’s an extremely talented player. I don’t think he’s a captain. However, I don’t see anybody else on the club more qualified than Ovi, so presently there isn’t reason to make a switch. Should they bring in a better off-ice leader, I’ve no problems with handing the “C” to someone else.

    • Eutaw's Finest - May 27, 2014 at 2:59 PM

      Agreed, but just like goal tending- who is out there that can fill the void better? Free agency isn’t exactly chock full of players who will immediately step into the role of captain, and internally nobody is suited for the role either.

  4. 34defense2014 - May 27, 2014 at 2:33 PM

    I agree Ovi is a one in a Generation player! If he can Tweek his game just a little bit? That’s all it would take! He if you guys don’t want him? I’ll take him on Long Island here lol lol I love Ovi!!!

    • capsnbohs23 - May 27, 2014 at 3:20 PM

      Not many people have the balls to admit they would like him on their team, bravo sir

    • pjblake2redwings - May 27, 2014 at 3:53 PM

      I would love him here in Detroit wearing a winged wheel and having fellow countryman and one of the best 2 way forwards to play the game, Pavel Datsyuk, help him with his defense and leadership skills

  5. 19to77 - May 27, 2014 at 2:41 PM

    Trotz is a more versatile coach than people think. He’s typecast as defense-minded, but the way Poile built the Predators rarely offered him much of a choice. He’s entirely correct in saying that teams tend to take on the characteristics of their top players. He’s not going to be wasting Ovi on the penalty kill like Torts did with the Sedins, nor is he Dale Hunter 2.0. He’s been coaching in the NHL for 15 years, and he’s dragged unremarkable Predators teams into the playoffs several times. This is a guy who knows how to get the most out of the players he’s got. And that’s exactly what Washington needs – a guy who knows how to maximize the worth of his assets without misusing them.

    • Eutaw's Finest - May 27, 2014 at 3:01 PM

      Like switching your top goal scorer from LW to RW for no reason whatsoever?

      • capsnbohs23 - May 27, 2014 at 3:21 PM

        and centering him with Jay Beagle

    • Idaslapter - May 27, 2014 at 3:17 PM

      The unremarkable Predators have been in the playoffs 7 of the last 9 years to be exact. I don’t see that as being all that “unremarkable”.

      • Mike Halford - May 27, 2014 at 3:21 PM

        Between 2003-04 and 2013-14, they missed in ’14, ’13, and ’09.

      • 19to77 - May 27, 2014 at 3:28 PM

        That’s why I said “some.” At times, the Preds have been a great team. At others, they’ve been fairly average. Trotz made it happen all the same. Fair point, though, what I meant was a little unclear.

  6. har21441 - May 27, 2014 at 3:29 PM

    This caps team has already made two coaches look like the jokes they were suspected of being.

    Now that they have a coach with a viable resume, I wonder what will break first – the team or the coaches?

  7. muckleflugga - May 27, 2014 at 7:01 PM

    look for four years of mediocrity from trotz, if washington permits him to stay that long … trotz may be a hard-ass with players, but unless you’re one scott bowman, the routine is formula for failure 99.99% of the time

    dinosaurs no longer rule hockey, unless we’re talking coach’s corner

    without a pekka rinne’s length and without his giant equipment, trotz’s ballyhooed defensive machine will be exposed for its dependancy on lucky goalkeeping

    look at the man’s playoff record, without poile, he’d have been on his third or fourth team by now, but not necessarily as coach


    • capsnbohs23 - May 27, 2014 at 10:15 PM

      Joel Q, and Claude Julien didnt exactly light up the playoffs for their previous teams either

  8. vbcaps - May 28, 2014 at 1:34 AM

    I think this is a good hire for Washington. If not him then what other coach out there would have been a better choice ?

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