“We have higher expectations for our team, and we felt a fresh approach in leadership was necessary,” said general manager Brian MacLellan. “We would like to thank Todd for all of his hard work and efforts with our organization. Todd has been a big part of our team for more than half a decade, including our Stanley Cup run in 2018, and we wish him and his family all the best moving forward.”
The move tells a tale of two coaches and is a basic admission that the Capitals made the wrong decision two years ago. The team won the 2018 Stanley Cup Championship under Barry Trotz, with Reirden as its main assistant. However, with Trotz’ contract up, Washington had to decide whether to pay up or let Trotz walk and bring in Reirden to replace him. The team, which has hired first-year coaches in five of its last six hires, decided to go that way with Reirden as well.
Reirden’s regular season record was quite good with a 89-46-16 record in 151 games. However, the team couldn’t win in the playoffs with the team falling in the first round in 2019 to the Carolina Hurricanes in seven games and then the team’s dismal performance this year against the Islanders, which included winning just one game of their round-robin matchup in the East, leaving the team facing a quality first-round matchup in New York.
So, it seemed almost fitting that Reirden’s last series was against Trotz, who was paid by the New York Islanders and the head coach has turned the inconsistent franchise around. The Islanders dominated their series with Washington and made it quite clear to the Capitals organization that they made a mistake two years ago.
The team now will have to find a new head coach and with their team aging and little time remaining for their star, Alex Ovechkin, who will be turning 35 in three weeks. The team will likely be forced to pay up and bring in a veteran coach and the team has quite a few options available to them, including Gerard Gallant, Peter Laviolette, Bruce Boudreau and Mike Babcock. If the team doesn’t want to pay that price, there are other former head coaches available as well, including Mike Yeo, John Stevens and Kirk Muller. With a win-now roster, the Capitals could be the prime job opening for those coaches.
As for Reirden, the coach is known to be an excellent special teams coach and likely will return to that role quickly as several teams will be looking to upgrade there. Reirden, who spent four years in Pittsburgh with Sidney Crosby, could be a candidate to return there considering their urgency to win next year as well. He had two years remaining on his contract with the Capitals.