ARLINGTON, Va. -- Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz has been behind the bench for 1,436 games during his 18 NHL seasons, but nothing prepared him for the intensity of a World Cup of Hockey 2016 game played in Canada.
"Even the first exhibition game, it felt maybe more intense than an actual NHL playoff game because there [were] more expectations on [Team] Canada than probably some of the other teams, especially because they were hosting it," Trotz said. "I wouldn't trade it for the world. It made me better. It stretched me."
Team Canada won the World Cup of Hockey 2016 with a 2-1 victory in Game 2 of the final against Team Europe at Air Canada Centre in Toronto on Thursday. Trotz was part of a coaching staff that included Mike Babcock, Claude Julien, Bill Peters and Joel Quenneville.
"To come away, I know I'm a better person," Trotz said. "I've made some great friends. We're a brotherhood when you do something together. You achieve something and you sort of bond and you have that place together forever that's not going to be ever taken away from."
Capitals training camp started Sept. 23, and Trotz kept tabs on things throughout the tournament and trusted his coaching staff to get the job done while he was away. Associate coach Todd Reirden ran the show; however, Trotz had already laid out a plan for the camp in advance, and he and Reirden spoke each day on the phone.
"The one thing that I felt very comfortable in is that the staff that we have here is exceptional and I did not want to micromanage," Trotz said. "This is a great chance for them to do what they do and improve on what we do."
Now that Trotz is back in Washington, he hopes to apply some of the things he learned with Team Canada to the Capitals. Living with the other coaches and spending a lot of time talking hockey with them allowed him to take a lot of notes, mostly things he might want to add to the program in Washington. He hopes that his input might help the other coaches as well.
"I know everybody that was involved with Mike and the Team Canada staff. We're all better for it, and it was an exceptional experience." Trotz said. "Obviously, winning wasn't too bad either."
The opportunity to work with some of the best talent in Canada -- Sidney Crosby, Drew Doughty and Jonathan Toews -- made it a little easier for Trotz to miss the start of training camp in Washington.
"It was exceptional," Trotz said. "I mean, you get to work with guys that you try to stop night in and night out. There's a reason that Sidney Crosby is considered the best player on the planet. You see why they're stars and why they're virtually unstoppable some nights. It was great to be a part of it."
But it isn't just the winning moments and daily interactions with world-class players that Trotz will remember the most.
Trotz's son Nolan, who has Down syndrome, came to visit him in Toronto one day during the tournament. Crosby saw Nolan playing on his iPad and sat down to play with him for a few minutes. That moment stuck with Trotz, who called Crosby an "exceptional person."
"He didn't have to do that," Trotz said. "He just did. I've got a lot of respect for guys like that. And they were all like that."