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World Cup will help Capitals, Trotz says

Coach confident competition will pay off once NHL season starts

by Tom Gulitti @TomGulittiNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz was at Kettler Capitals Iceplex on Tuesday taking care of some final details before he flies to Ottawa on Saturday for Team Canada training camp for the World Cup of Hockey 2016.

With Todd Reirden, who was promoted by the Capitals to associate coach Monday, set to run the training camp in his absence, Trotz knows his NHL team will be in good hands while he's off working as an assistant to Mike Babcock on the Team Canada staff with Claude Julien of the Boston Bruins, Joel Quenneville of the Chicago Blackhawks and Bill Peters of the Carolina Hurricanes.

"I'm looking forward to it because of the fact that I get to work with some outstanding people and against outstanding people in the League and be a part of something that I haven't been around for a number of years," Trotz said. "To me, it's another growing experience. It's an opportunity, just as [it is for] the players that are going to be playing in it."

Team Canada will hold its first practice on Monday at Canadian Tire Centre to prepare for its first pretournament game on Sept. 9 against Team USA at Nationwide Arena in Columbus. Team Canada also has a pretournament game against Team USA on Sept. 10 at Canadian Tire Center and against Team Russia on Sept. 14 at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh.

Team Canada will play its first World Cup preliminary round game against Team Czech Republic on Sept. 17 at Air Canada Centre in Toronto.

Video: Captials head coach Barry Trotz on upcoming season

The coaches have been in regular contact over the past few months so they can hit the ice Monday ready for the challenge ahead.

"We had a couple of conference calls. We met at the [2016 NHL Draft in Buffalo]," Trotz said. "We had a meeting in my end of the country in Predator Ridge (in Vernon, British Columbia) for a few days sort of preparing for all that. I leave on Saturday and we'll meet and [make] final preparations for the start of the tournament.

"I think, just as [with] everything, we'll react. We'll be very, very prepared as a staff [from] what I know of all the coaches and we will adjust our team and our coaching to what it is needed to improve or get better. Areas that we can feel that we have an advantage, we'll work at real hard."

Trotz said preparation has always been a trademark of Hockey Canada, and for this tournament it starts with Babcock, who coached Canada to a gold medal at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Trotz won the Jack Adams Award last season after the Capitals won the Presidents' Trophy and is ready to follow Babcock's lead.

"Mike has had great success at the Olympics and these tournaments, and I see why," Trotz said. "He's organized, he knows what he wants. We share information so that we can grow to do it the best way. There's good dialogue, and he's spot on. He goes about what he knows will work in the tournament. I'm not going to tell you everything, but I've been very impressed with Mike the way he handles his staff and how deliberate he is in his vision."

Eight Capitals players will compete in the tournament, which can run until Oct. 1. T.J. Oshie, John Carlson and Matt Niskanen will play for Team USA; Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Kuznetsov and Dmitry Orlov will play for Team Russia; Nicklas Backstrom will play for Team Sweden; and Braden Holtby will be with Trotz on Team Canada.

Video: Analytical emphasis being placed on the World Cup

Although Trotz acknowledged the risk of injury, he said "it's a positive thing" to have so many Capitals involved.

"You're going to have your top players playing at the highest level against the best players, basically, in the world in the next couple of weeks, so that's only a positive," he said. "There's so many great players that greatness pushes greatness and that will be really good for our leaders and our core group that are at the World Cup of Hockey. Then, as they come back, if you go right to the finals and you have to go to a three-game final, you're going to have players that will be starting the [NHL] season and they already have 10 games under their belt, and they're your top players.

"So, we're going to have to manage that a little bit, but, at the same time, the standard is high, they're ready to go and, if you get the competitive people going against each other, I think it will be some fun hockey."

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