Earlier today, Barry Trotz became the new head coach of the Washington Capitals.
Let go by the Predators last month and replaced by the team’s second-ever head coach, Peter Laviolette, a certain level of finality didn’t come to realization until today’s hiring. The man that has defined and led the Nashville Predators franchise for the better part of two decades is now officially the head coach of another team.
Hired by Nashville in 1997, Trotz moves on to his second NHL franchise 17 years later.
“My time with the Nashville Predators was really like going to hockey university,” Capitals head coach Barry Trotz told the Monumental Network. “I did everything from ordering carpet to scouting players, and I think it gave me appreciation and understanding. I started out in the Capitals organization as a scout, and then I worked my way up all the way to Nashville. So I think it gave me a great foundation.”
Trotz’s time in Nashville was defined by great defense and drawing the most out of his players, attributes that put him at the top of Washington’s wish list. The next challenge for the new coach in the nation’s capital will be instituting portions of his defensive style of play into the high-powered Capitals offense that features five-time, 50-goal scorer Alex Ovechkin.
“The one thing the Washington Capitals can do is score goals,” Trotz said. “But at the same time, they probably could afford to strengthen their defensive game. The hard part will be finding that proper balance. They’ve got a great power play, the stats show that. But they do need to be better five-on-five. Turning things around will start with a buy-in from the core players and then we’ll go from there.”
Trotz’s longevity in Nashville may very well have happened because of his ability to grow and learn as the franchise and NHL progressed. Although Trotz is famous for utilizing hard-nosed, gritty players, don’t be surprised when the Capitals find the proper balance of scoring and defense under his tutelage.
“I’m still trying to learn from every situation that I’m in, because the players and the game keep evolving,” Trotz explained. “It’ll take some time for me to learn all the skills and strengths we have here as a team, just like it did in Nashville, but if you’re willing to work hard then the results will come.”
The wins and playoff runs did eventually come in Nashville under Trotz’s care and the club will always owe him for that, but now the Predators have to view their old mentor as an enemy. No matter how strange it may feel.
From the Predators perspective, the positive news is that Trotz’s new team is in the Eastern Conference and will only face Nashville twice in the regular season. So whether they’d admit it or not, they can cheer him on from afar.
After all, today’s hiring may feel like the conclusion of a long novel for both clubs, but it’s really just the beginning.