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Trotz leaves as coach of Capitals

Guided Washington to Stanley Cup for first time since team entered NHL in 1974

by Tom Gulitti @TomGulittiNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

Barry Trotz resigned as coach of the Washington Capitals on Monday.

Trotz this season coached the Capitals to their first Stanley Cup championship since entering the NHL in 1974. Washington defeated the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 5 of the Final on June 7.

"After careful consideration and consultation with my family, I am officially announcing my resignation as head coach of the Washington Capitals," Trotz said. "When I came to Washington four years ago we had one goal in mind, and that was to bring the Stanley Cup to the nation's capital. We had an incredible run this season culminating with our players and staff achieving our goal and sharing the excitement with our fans. I would like to thank [owner] Mr. [Ted] Leonsis, [team president] Dick Patrick and [general manager] Brian MacLellan for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this great organization. I would also like to thank our players and staff who worked tirelessly every day to achieve our success."

Washington won the Presidents' Trophy in 2015-16 and 2016-17 before winning the Cup this season. After being eliminated by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Second Round in 2016 and 2017, the Capitals opted not to sign Trotz to a contract extension last offseason. That left Trotz to coach this season on the final year of the four-year contract he signed May 26, 2014.

Video: Barry Trotz steps down as Capitals head coach

When Trotz signed the four-year contract, the sides agreed on a clause that if Washington won the Stanley Cup at any point during the term of the contract, an additional two years, with increased salary, would be added and would take effect after they won the Cup.

"Our discussions with his representative centered around that (clause) and what he was looking to accomplish through negotiations," MacLellan said. "So we had several discussions on what they were looking for and about the existing contract, and we weren't able to come to an agreement."

Trotz and MacLellan met last Wednesday, one day after the championship parade in Washington, to begin talking about Trotz's future with the Capitals. At the time, Trotz sounded optimistic he would be back.

"I've got an opportunity here with [MacLellan] and with the Capitals," the 55-year-old said. "I started here, won the Cup here. We've got lots of good things going. So we'll work through it. We'll work through what we need to do. If that's what they want, then something will get done. If not, we'll deal with that."

As it turned out, Trotz and the Capitals could not work through their issues, so he resigned. The Capitals accepted Trotz's resignation, and MacLelllan said he is free to work elsewhere.

"We came to an agreement that it wasn't going to work," MacLellan said. "We don't want to hold him back from coaching."

Aside from the Capitals, the only NHL team with a coaching vacancy is the New York Islanders. The Capitals will begin their search for Trotz's replacement with associate coach Todd Reirden, MacLellan said.

"We need to take a breather here, but I think Todd's a good candidate for it," he said. "I'd like to sit down with Todd and have a normal head coaching interview. I think most of our discussions are just casual. It's about hockey in general. But I'd like to do a formal interview with him and just see if there's differences or how we see things the same and if he's a possibility for the head coach."

Reirden, who turns 47 on June 25, completed his fourth season with the Capitals. He was an assistant from 2014-16 and associate coach the past two seasons. He has been responsible for the Capitals defensemen and power play.

Reirden was an assistant for the Penguins from 2010-14 and coached Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in the American Hockey League for 1 1/2 seasons from 2009-10.

MacLellan said a sticking point for the Capitals in negotiations was that Trotz wanted a five-year contract.

"His representative wants to take advantage of Barry's experience and Stanley Cup win, and is trying to negotiate a deal that compensates him as one of the better coaches in the League, a top four or five coach," MacLellan said. "He's looking for that kind of contract. ... Term was the big issue and maybe a little bit of the financial part of it too."

MacLellan said he was a little bit surprised the Capitals and Trotz couldn't get past that.

"I thought we'd be able to work out a shorter-term deal to make both sides happy," he said.

Trotz went 205-89-34 with the Capitals and won the Jack Adams Award as NHL coach of the year in 2015-16. Washington reached the Stanley Cup Playoffs in each of his four seasons and finished first in the Metropolitan Division each of the past three.

Before this season, the Capitals hadn't advanced beyond the second round since reaching the Stanley Cup Final in 1998. Trotz also had not advanced beyond the second round in his first 18 seasons as an NHL coach, the first 15 with the Nashville Predators.

When the Capitals went 10-9-1 in their first 20 games this season, it appeared Trotz's job was in jeopardy. But they went 17-4-2 in their next 23 games.

Despite that, MacLellan acknowledged that a coaching change would have been likely had the Capitals struggled in the playoffs again.

"We couldn't get out of the second round, and Barry hadn't been able to coach out of the second round yet either," MacLellan said. "I think from the organization's perspective, some changes would've had to be made if we lost in the second round again."

After losing the first two games to the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first round, the Capitals rebounded to win that series in six games, and then eliminated the Penguins in six games in the second round. They won Games 6 and 7 to win the Eastern Conference Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

MacLellan credited Trotz with helping to change the culture in Washington.

"He came in and did a great job with it," MacLellan said. "I think what he and his staff and the players have established is here now, and it's our job to find a guy that can maintain it as a group too. It's just not one person that maintains that culture. I think our players have grown and adapted and are at a level now, or our room is at a level now, where we can take on some change."

Trotz is fifth in NHL history with 762 wins, 20 behind Al Arbour for fourth place. He was 557-479-100 with 60 ties during 15 seasons with the Nashville Predators from 1998-2014 before joining the Capitals.

He is the first coach to resign after winning the Stanley Cup since Scotty Bowman ended his coaching career winning the championship with the Detroit Red Wings in 2002.

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