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Todd Reirden takes Capitals' leading role

Associate coach to run practices at training camp while Barry Trotz is at World Cup

by Katie Brown / Correspondent

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz almost lost two of his assistants to coaching jobs with other NHL teams this summer.

Todd Reirden and Lane Lambert were finalists for the coaching vacancies with the Calgary Flames and Colorado Avalanche, respectively. The Flames hired Glen Gulutzan on June 17 and the Avalanche named Jared Bednar on Aug. 25.

Trotz is relieved Reirden and Lambert will return this season, and proud the Capitals organization has produced the type of personnel coveted by teams with job openings.

"You never like to lose high quality people and coaches," Trotz said, "but at the same time these are guys that I've said if they're not replacing me, they're replacing someone else in the League. That's what we want. Both of them were right there in the end. It says a lot about them. It says a lot about our program here in Washington."

In addition to interviewing with the Flames, Reirden was promoted to associate coach of the Capitals and will be running training camp while Trotz serves as an assistant coach for Team Canada during the World Cup of Hockey 2016. 

Though Reirden, 45, didn't get the job in Calgary, he said the fact he was in serious consideration will help him get better at his craft.

"It was a really good experience," he said, "and something that I definitely have taken a lot from and will add to how I do some things this year, and continue to improve and grow as a coach.

"Not for one second was I disappointed about coming back and being a part of this team. We've invested a lot in the last two years, and the growth of our team in two years has been outstanding."

In July, Reirden and the Capitals coaching staff began discussing opportunities for him to take on greater responsibility and perhaps a change in title. Though Reirden primarily oversees the defense, he is well-versed as to what is expected of other positions in addition to his own responsibilities. The same goes for the rest of the staff.

"The interaction with players on a daily basis has always, I've felt, been one of my strengths," Reirden said. "I look forward to taking a little bit more of a firmer role in that regard. The players respect how I communicate with them and they understand when things go wrong that they'll be held accountable for it."

Eight Capitals will be at the World Cup: Goaltender Braden Holtby is a member of Team Canada; Forward T.J. Oshie and defensemen John Carlson and Matt Niskanen are with Team USA; forward Nicklas Backstrom will play for Team Sweden; and forwards Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov and defenseman Dmitry Orlov are with Team Russia.

With the exception of center Lars Eller and right wing Brett Connolly, most of the players at Capitals training camp have been together for at least the past year, so the learning curve won't be very steep.

"It's beneficial that we have the majority of our group back," Trotz said. "We're going to miss a lot of players at the World Cup. It's an opportunity for not only the staff to be even more hands-on but also for players; players that are not at the World Cup are getting an opportunity, playing in even higher roles."

Reirden, Lambert and assistant Blaine Forsythe will be joined on the ice by Troy Mann, coach of Hershey of the American Hockey League. Trotz plans to communicate with his staff daily by phone, but there won't be micromanaging from afar. 

"I have full trust that they'll run [camp] exceptionally well," Trotz said. "We have a very detailed staff and they're very good at what they do. We've set a standard the last two years and that will not change, and I know our staff will not let that standard change."

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