Barry Trotz, the head coach of the Washington Capitals that everyone assumed all season long would be let go by the team this summer until he went and won their first-ever Stanley Cup, is now a free agent after all.
The Capitals announced the news in a brief statement today:
Barry Trotz informed the organization today of his decision to resign as head coach of the Washington Capitals. We are obviously disappointed by Barry’s decision, but would like to thank Barry for all his efforts the past four years and for helping bring the Stanley Cup to Washington. Barry is a man of high character and integrity and we are grateful for his leadership and for all that he has done for our franchise.
Why are we posting about this here, a New York Islanders site?
See paragraph one, and add to it that the Islanders are the only NHL team with a current opening at that position. (Besides the Capitals, of course, though it’s widely assumed that heir apparent Todd Reirden will step into that role there.)
After the Capitals completed their fairly surprising run to the Cup, both Trotz and Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said all the right things about wanting to continue the relationship. Trotz was reportedly under contract until July 1, but his resignation speeds things up. And in fact (see below), turns out his contract had clauses that were previously unreported.
Perhaps Trotz, who stayed with the Nashville Predators from their expansion beginning until they were good enough to be annual playoff disappointments, recognizes that anything short of a repeat Cup in Washington would lead to the same old chorus of “time for new blood” this time next year.
Pierre LeBrun of Every Hockey Publication and Network Out There tweeted that Trotz’s Cup win triggered an automatic two-year option and “modest raise” in his contract. So rather than accept that, he might also see this moment as a point to wield the contract leverage of an Actual Cup Winner rather than the small leverage of Guy Who Might Win Cup and Get Small Reward.
Barry Trotz had a clause in his contract where if he won the Stanley Cup he could accept a two-year extension with a $300k bump in salary. Obviously since he was only making $1.5M, low by today's NHL coach's standards, a $1.8-million salary doesn't cut it. So Trotz stepped down.— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) June 18, 2018
Point of clarification on the Trotz contract: as per the clause in his contract, winning the Stanley Cup automatically triggered the two-year extension with the modest raise so really, he had no choice but to step down unless he was happy with that extension and terms.— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) June 18, 2018
Basically, coaching salaries are on the rise, the profession is notoriously volatile, and this is a rare chance for Trotz to both 1) cash in and 2) help his coaching brethren raise the average salary. (Japers’ Rink has a good collection of info from various sources on this aspect.)
With the Capitals’ happy turn of events this spring, Trotz is now credited in some circles with finally getting Alex Ovechkin to Go 100% and Actually Do The Defense. His reputation and sudden availability may be of interest — may be partly caused by, even — to the Islanders and Lou Lamoriello, who fired Doug Weight as coach less than two weeks after taking over the whole operation.
What we’re trying to say is, the path now looks a whole lot clearer for Trotz to be the next Islanders coach.