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Five Questions With...

Five Questions with Todd Reirden

Capitals coach happy to be heading back to St. Louis for NHL All-Star Game

by Tom Gulitti @TomGulittiNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

NHL.com's Q&A feature called "Five Questions With …" runs every Tuesday. We talk to key figures in the game and ask them questions to gain insight into their lives, careers and the latest news.

The latest edition features Washington Capitals coach Todd Reirden.

 

Some of Todd Reirden's fondest memories as a player came during the two seasons he played for the St. Louis Blues. That's why it's understandable that the Washington Capitals coach is looking forward to spending some time in St. Louis with his family when he coaches the Metropolitan Division at the 2020 Honda NHL All-Star Game at Enterprise Center in St. Louis on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS)

"It was a great sports town and still is," Reirden said, "so it will be fun to go back to see some spots and how much they've changed."

A journeyman defenseman, Reirden played five seasons in the NHL with the Blues, Edmonton Oilers, Atlanta Thrashers and Phoenix Coyotes in addition to stints in the ECHL, International Hockey League, American Hockey League, Germany and Austria. In 1999-2000, Reirden spent an entire season in the NHL for the first time in his career, playing in 56 games and helping the Blues go 51-19-1 with 11 ties to finish first in the League standings with 114 points.

Reirden played 38 games for St. Louis in 2000-01 and also spent time with Worcester in the AHL before signing with Atlanta as a free agent after that season.

"That for me was a great spot, particularly for my wife, Shelby, and I," Reirden said of St. Louis. "We weren't married at the time. She had spent a couple years with me traveling in the minors and [this] was our first full-time chance to be in the NHL. We got to do a lot of things there that led into us getting married a couple years after that, so it's going to be exciting for us to go back and take our son, Travis, to some of our favorite restaurants."

This will be Reirden's second NHL All-Star Game; he also coached the Metropolitan Division last season. The 48-year-old is the first Capitals coach to appear in the All-Star Game more than once. He'll be joined in St. Louis by three of his players -- defenseman John Carlson, forward T.J. Oshie and goalie Braden Holtby.

The Capitals (33-11-5) lead the NHL with 71 points this season and are 81-37-13 in their two seasons under Reirden.

"It's an amazing honor and it's a real privilege in terms of being able to go and represent our players and our organization and our coaching staff," Reirden said. "I'm extremely honored to get the chance to do it and to do it back-to-back is amazing for myself and my family."

Here are Five Questions with … Todd Reirden.

 

Does going to the All-Star Game for the second straight season say something about the consistency of your team and your coaching?

"Yeah. It's something I don't focus on a lot. Every day is a different day and a different chance to try to improve our team and improve myself as a young coach who is working to get better, and it ends up that I get another opportunity again this year. It's not something that you really go in as a goal for the season. You try to improve your team whenever you can, and this is a byproduct of it, so I'm fortunate that the players put in all the work and sacrifice on and off the ice to give me this opportunity. I'm proud to represent them."

 

How have you evolved as a coach over the past year?

"You can't a put a value on experience and going through things. I think I was well prepared. Many thanks to (former Pittsburgh Penguins coach) Dan Bylsma and (former Capitals coach) Barry Trotz for empowering me (as an assistant) and giving me opportunities to be in front of players a lot in my responsibilities - so it wasn't a ton of a transition there. But until you go through those exact days as a head coach, there's nothing that can replicate it. Other than getting experience and improving and learning some lessons, both good and bad, I continue to try and grow and that hasn't changed about me at all in a year. Every day, I'm journaling and making sure things I do wrong I change or try to fix and make better and things I do right I continue to do those more often. Now that you go through it, [from an] experience standpoint, I think I'm going to get better and better."

Video: Reirden on Capitals' Stanley Cup mindset for 2019-20

Have you always kept a journal?

"Yeah. I have something on my computer. These are my game notes from every game, so I have it always per game in my journal here. … There's a lot of games and a lot of stuff going on. Different times you meet with a guy and if you [keep notes on] how you met with them and different directions [you take], that's something I feel like it helps me recall and take a step back after maybe a week or two and then say that was a good idea to go after a player like that or a good idea to be really positive with a player that time. That's what I use to help me."

 

You had Travis, your 17-year-old son, on the bench with you for the 2019 All-Star Skills. Was that a special moment for share with him?

"A really special moment. Your family sacrifices so much for you along the way and, in particular, he and I miss out on a lot of things that I'm not able to go to, whether it's sporting events or things that happen at school because of our travel schedule. This was a chance for me to give back a little bit to him, and it was great how they were fine with having some family members come down to the bench for the skills competition. It was good for Travis to see some friends of his that he'd made over of the years, some guys who used to take care of him when he was younger when we were in Pittsburgh. It was great for him to see Sidney (Crosby) again and Kris Letang and Marc-Andre Fleury.

"Then, obviously, for him to see John (Carlson) and Braden (Holtby) was great as well. It was a fun event. It's amazing to watch those guys be able to execute those things and for him to share it with me was a lot of fun."

 

Are you going to have him on the bench again for the 2020 NHL All-Star Skills on Friday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS)?

"I'm hoping to. Hopefully, he can get a chance to [be on the bench]. It was something that he'll never forget, and you never know when you're going to get the opportunity again."

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