Both head coaches in tonight's Washington-Chicago match-up and both goaltenders were members of the championship Team Canada entry in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. While the two coaches had a longstanding prior relationship that grew stronger during their time with team Canada, the new netminders began to forge a relationship.
When he was coming up as a young coach in the AHL with the Baltimore Skipjacks in the early 1990s, Caps coach Barry Trotz had Hawks coach Joel Quenneville on his team, toward the tail-end of the latter's playing career.
"There is no coaching him," says Trotz of those days in Baltimore a quarter-century ago. "That would be disrespectful to Q. He knew more than I ever did back then. But we've known each other since he was in Washington and I was in Baltimore. He's a fantastic person and obviously a fantastic coach. I always like to catch up with him.
"The relationships with the coaches at the World Cup were all good. You got to spend a month with someone that you don't, usually, because you're usually in competition and you see them a couple times during the year and maybe at the draft. So it was good to catch up, a good experience. It was hockey central every day, and that just makes you better. We actually know each other's game fairly well. But to talk hockey and the viewpoints was a phenomenal experience."
Holtby and Chicago's Corey Crawford were the backup goaltenders for Team Canada, serving as understudies for starter Carey Price. Long days on the practice rink together helped build a bond between the two elite netminders.
"Yeah, that was probably the best part," said Holtby. "Corey and I did a lot of work together.
"I really appreciate his game. You don't get to see him very much with him being out west. He does some things outstandingly well that obviously I can learn from and try to get better at. He's a great guy who works really hard, earns what he gets and that was probably the best part of the experience."