For the first time since 2009 a team other than the Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Los Angeles Kings and Pittsburgh Penguins won’t win the Stanley Cup. It’s also been 19 seasons since the Washington Capitals have made an appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals (1998), as the Capitals will face-off with the Tampa Bay Lightning in to determine who will advance to the 2018 Stanley Finals.
That we do know.
What is unclear is whether or not Washington is planning on re-signing head coach Barry Trotz, who’s in the final year of his contract (2014-2018). Most are aware of his track record in the NHL and with the Caps, too. After 15 seasons as the Nashville Predators head coach, the Manitoba, Winnipeg native left to join a Cup hungry Washington squad.
Since joining the Capitals, Trotz has the franchise’s highest win-percentage (.549%) and is second in career regular season wins (205), which also entails back-to-back Presidents’ Trophy titles (best overall record during the regular season). However, with Trotz behind the bench, the Capitals still hadn’t made it past the second-round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs — until now.
Entering the 2017-18 campaign the thought for Trotz’ future in the nation’s capital would have been based on the Caps’ success in the playoffs. Well, as noted above, the Caps have accomplished something that hadn’t been done in almost two decades, but is it going to be enough to keep Trotz around?
At this rate, it’s almost hard to fathom that the Caps never made it this far in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Braden Holtby and so on…but that should more than likely speak volume that coaching may not be the issue, especially during the Trotz era.
One could take the angle that Trotz was essential towards having the Caps take that next step forward in the playoffs this year, but potentially isn’t the guy moving forward if Washington fails to make the Cup Final.
It’s a fair point, but this group has been through much adversity together and finally overcame demons, after this Washington team defeated Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins) for the first time ever in the postseason. If you watched that series, there was a much different flow and vibe with the Capitals’ last two contests that eliminated the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins in six games.
Regardless of how the Capitals do in the Eastern Conference Finals, the team should re-sign Trotz. In reality, defeating Pittsburgh probably isn’t that much of an accomplishment inside the locker room for the Caps, as everyone knows what the ultimate goal is.
But, a unique bond must have been formed between Trotz and his Caps, and one they could never forget. One that Ovechkin has never had at the NHL level, either.
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