Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin has experienced success on the right wing during the past two seasons, but new coach Barry Trotz said he plans on putting him back at left wing to start training camp next week, CSN Washington reported Thursday.
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Ovechkin scored an NHL-leading 51 goals in 2013-14 and had 83 goals in 126 games at right wing under former coach Adam Oates. Trotz told CSN he expects to use Ovechkin on either wing during the season, but he'll begin camp Sept. 19 at left wing.
"Going into camp I'd probably say I'm leaning more to left than right," Trotz said. "He moves his feet better on that side, he's able to go laterally better. I want to play him more on that side but I want to clean up some things in his own end to allow him to play that side."
The Capitals are expected to be better defensively under Trotz. Ovechkin was a team-worst minus-35 last season (third-worst in the NHL), but the coach doesn't want to do anything that will limit Ovechkin's scoring chances.
"The things Alex can do as a player I can't teach him," Trotz said. "No one can really teach that. The stuff he needs to do to get the puck more and do the things he does, I can teach him that."
Trotz said Thursday his encounters with Ovechkin have been positive.
"I see a little bit of a different Alex Ovechkin. I think there's a quiet calmness and a quiet focus," Trotz said. "When you don't know people and you don't know the situation, it's easy to be very judgmental and make assumptions. Once you get to know what makes people tick and what they're passionate about, you can see a different light in people. I have a totally different perception of him."
Ovechkin said Thursday he is recovered fully from the right knee injury he sustained in May while playing for Russia at the 2014 IIHF World Championship in Belarus.
"My knee doesn't bother me," he told The Associated Press. "Everything feels fine and 100 percent."