As the Capitals and Penguins prepare for Game 1 of their second-round playoff series tonight at Verizon Center (7 p.m. Pregame Live, CSN), Caps assistant coach Todd Reirden might be one of the proudest men in the building.
Reirden spent four seasons working with the Penguins’ defensemen before he was hired by the Caps two years ago to take on the same responsibilities. Reirden played a key role in bringing free agents Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen to Washington, but he also played a key role in the development of Penguins blue liners Olli Maatta, Kris Letang and Ben Lovejoy.
“Todd is a good human being,” Lovejoy said. “I had a great experience with Todd. I feel like we came up in the NHL together. He was a mentor. He played the game and he understood the ups and downs of being a young defenseman. I credit a lot of my development to Todd and I would love to beat him in a seven-game series.”
Reirden, 44, received some interest from the New Jersey Devils during their search for a head coach last summer and could become a candidate again this summer.
“I would think so,” Lovejoy said. “He’s been very successful with every job he’s had. You look at the D men that came through both Pittsburgh and Washington and I think you have to credit Todd for a lot of that.”
Niskanen said Reirden helped revitalize his career after he arrived in Pittsburgh.
“He helped grow my game,” Niskanen said. “He gave me a lot of good information, let me work myself out of some things and once I became an everyday player again we worked on getting a little better each week.”