Washington Capitals head coach Barry Trotz might be the ultimate free agent. With many thinking early on that the Capitals planned to move on from their long-time coach after this season, Trotz instead has bet on himself and taken the Capitals for a long playoff ride, taking a once dejected and weakened Washington team this season and leading them to a surprising Stanley Cup Finals berth.
And despite the fact that Washington Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said Friday that Trotz’ contract extension will not be addressed until the end of the season, Trotz looks to be in a great position to get a big raise from the $1.5MM that the 55-year-old coach is making this season, according to The Washington Times’ Matthew Paras.
The team had a two-year window which ended last season after two straight playoff losses to the rival Pittsburgh Penguins. With the window closed, the team lost multiple players in the offseason as defensemen Kevin Shattenkirk and Karl Alzner along with winger Justin Williams all walked in free agency. The team even traded winger Marcus Johansson to the New Jersey Devils to free up cap room and then lost defenseman Nate Schmidt to the Vegas Golden Knights. Yet, the Capitals have made an unlikely Stanley Cup run and now have a chance to win the title under Trotz’ direction.
“He’s probably going to benefit from this too,” MacLellan said. “It’s not all not good for him. I think he’s done a good job managing it. To come in this year with so many questions — not from my point of view, the lineup questions were that big a deal — but just the emotional state of our team coming in to start the year and how to handle that, I think he’s done an outstanding job.”
Trotz admits that he’s made changes, including being more loose and relaxed during the playoffs and has made some key strategic moves that seems to have motivated the team, including the key decision to turn the goaltending reigns back to Braden Holtby in the playoffs after initially taking his starting job away. Another key decision was when the coach scratched a struggling Andre Burakovsky and then re-inserting him into the lineup where he notched two goals in Game 7 against Tampa Bay.
Trotz said he isn’t worried about his contract status and didn’t have much to say when asked what he would do if he wasn’t brought back.
“I’ll move on. So be it,” Trotz said.