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Barry Trotz tries to stay positive after Capitals’ elimination

This was the Capitals' year, but after another disappointing second-round exit, it could be time to start thinking about a rebuild and what to do with Alex Ovechkin.

Washington’s end of year media availability was predictably depressing.

Then, Barry Trotz spoke.

The head coach was positive. He talked about how the team’s window wasn’t closed, and how it would eventually “break through that barrier.” He suggested “laughing at the past” could “ease us into the future.”

The assembled media took note of this, which contrasted the vibe of his visibly distraught Capitals. So it was asked -- why did he seem more upbeat than his players?

From the Washington Post:

“Put it this way -- I haven’t slept in two friggin’ days. To say that I don’t feel very distraught, that really sort of angers me, because talk to my family to see if I’m distraught.

“I have to be positive in terms of, ‘do I think we’re going in the right direction?’ Yes, and I’m positive of that. But we haven’t broken through. That’s why I’m probably the way I am. I also said we didn’t get to where we wanted to get to.

“That angers me. When something doesn’t go your way, you can roll up in a ball and feel sorry for yourself. I don’t.”

That Trotz took this approach isn’t surprising. Coaching is a leadership role, after all. And there didn’t seem to be any point to piling onto what was already a fairly miserable day in D.C.

It’s also fair to assume he wanted to see the autopsy before announcing cause of death.

Washington’s season only ended days ago and, as a veteran bench boss, Trotz knows the routine. He and GM Brian MacLellan have a long summer of analysis and reflection ahead. Changes are coming, that much is certain, but how many and to what degree is impossible to say right now.

Of course, this didn’t stop players from weighing in.

Matt Niskanen said cosmetic changes wouldn’t fix what ails the club. Karl Alzner said the team had a pretty good window of opportunity, “and unfortunately it’s not there anymore.”

Then there was Brooks Orpik.

“Even if we had less free agents,” he explained, “I think any time you underachieve at what you’re trying to do, there’s going to be changes.”

That’s an important part of this. Alzner, Justin Williams, T.J. Oshie and Kevin Shattenkirk are all pending UFAs, and could all be playing elsewhere next season. But would parting ways with those four constitute enough of a change to appease management and ownership? Or, are they more along the lines of the cosmetic changes Niksanen said wouldn’t cut it?

And what about Trotz himself? There has to be some question about his job security. Some will argue he hasn’t been on the job long enough to be fired already, but consider this -- he’s the seventh longest-tenured bench boss in the NHL. Ottawa’s had three different head coaches during that span.

It’s going to be a long summer in Washington.

Let’s see if Trotz can stay positive throughout.