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Capitals get their guy, name Todd Reirden new head coach

Capitals get their guy, name Todd Reirden new head coach

Todd Reirden has been named head coach of the Washington Capitals, the team announced Friday afternoon.

Reirden replaces Barry Trotz, who stepped down—somewhat surprisingly—on June 18, just 11 days after guiding the Caps to the first Stanley Cup in franchise history.

Reirden’s promotion to the top job is a significant development, of course. But it’s also been one of the worst kept secrets in D.C. over the past few days.

The team has been grooming the 47-year-old for his first NHL head coaching job for a few years now. And last week, GM Brian MacLellan said Reirden was the only candidate on the interview schedule and, if things went well, he’d get the job.

Reirden becomes the 18th coach in franchise history.

The terms of Reirden’s new deal were not immediately known. The team also did not make any announcements about the status of any assistant coaches.

“We feel that the time is right for Todd to lead our hockey club,” MacLellan said in a statement. “Based on his coaching experience, communication abilities, his approach to the game and the respect he commands in our locker room, we feel that Todd has earned this opportunity.”

MacLellan also praised Reirden, who headed up the defense and the team’s perennially potent power play, for the role he played in helping the Caps clinch the Cup.

“Todd has played an integral part in helping lead our team to the Stanley Cup championship and we feel his appointment as head coach will enable our organization to transition seamlessly into next season and beyond,” MacLellan said.

Indeed, by promoting Reirden the defending champions have assured themselves of this much: continuity.

With the re-signing of defenseman Michal Kempny earlier in the day, the Caps’ emphasis on keeping the band together for next season has become quite apparent. They’ve got 10 of 12 forwards, five of six defenseman and the starting goalie under contract heading into the season.

And now, in Reirden, they’ve got a bench boss who is intimately familiar with all of them.

Since Trotz stepped down, several players have been asked about the prospect of Reirden taking the reins.

To a man, they all used the same word to describe the room’s feeling toward the longtime assistant: respect.

“I think guys have a lot of respect for Todd, and if [he gets promoted], then he’s going to do a great job,” John Carlson said Monday.

Carlson also praised Reirden for his Xs and Os, communication skills and ability to pull players onto the same page.

“I thought he was crucial for my career,” Carlson said. “He just changed a few things [about] how I looked at the game, changed a few things with the D that I think really benefited everyone on D, and made it pretty clear what he expected of us and allowed us to go out there and do the rest.”

Carlson continued: “I think he did a great job of taking everybody for being different people and seeing things different ways. I just think he seemed to connect with everyone’s different personalities.”

Captain Alex Ovechkin also indicated that support for Reirden.

“We all respect Todd,” Ovechkin said. “We all like him. Again, it's not our thing to say who's going to be head coach, but if it's going to be Todd, it's going to be fun.”

Although Devante Smith Pelly didn’t deal with Reirden much during games, the recently re-signed forward said Reirden helped him pick up on some of the nuances the game, particularly when it came to positioning.

“Obviously, he works the D side of the bench, so in the game and stuff I don’t really talk to him that much, but in the room and in practice he’s always giving little tips to everyone—forwards, D,” Smith-Pelly said. “I think he taught me just a lot of little things positional-wise and things like that maybe other coaches never taught me.”

DSP added: “I think it would be really good for the team. He did amazing job, obviously, with the defense and a big part of the whole run. So I think he’ll do a great job and definitely help us defend the Cup.”

Reirden is an Illinois native who played his college hockey at Bowling Green. After a long playing career that included brief NHL tenures in Edmonton, St. Louis, Atlanta and Phoenix, he broke into the coaching ranks as an assistant at his alma mater.

In 2008, Reirden joined the Penguins’ organization as an assistant with their AHL affiliate Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. He became the head coach of the Baby Pens when Dan Bylsma was promoted to the big club.

Reirden’s first NHL coaching experience came as an assistant in Pittsburgh under Bylsma from 2010-2014.

He joined the Capitals’ staff as an assistant to Trotz in 2014 and was promoted to associate coach in 2016.

A press conference announcing Reirden’s hiring will happen next Tuesday.

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For Capitals coach Todd Reirden and his immune-deficient son, the risks of coronavirus are all too real

For Capitals coach Todd Reirden and his immune-deficient son, the risks of coronavirus are all too real

With the NHL season on pause, the Capitals stand either on the precipice of the playoffs or the offseason. Either way, head coach Todd Reirden has to stay prepared. For now, however, the most important thing on his mind is the safety of his family. While he is not unique in that respect, the dangers presented by the spread of COVID-19, more commonly known as the coronavirus, are much more on Reirden's mind than it is for most people.

It can be hard to come to grips with the fact that the world is in the grips of a global pandemic. That has led to a lot of people downplaying the severity of the coronavirus.

"It's basically the flu."

"Only old people can get really sick."

"I'm low risk so I don't need to follow the guidelines."

Sometimes it is hard to realize how serious a situation can be without putting a face to it. For Reirden, however, putting a face to a situation like this one was not difficult at all because of his son, Travis.

"When first news came out of who was going to be most affected by this, obviously it was the elderly and people with compromised immune system and immediately Travis, who's now 17, goes to the top of that list," Reirden said in a conference call on Monday.

Travis has common variable immunodeficiency, a disorder he has had since birth. This disorder leaves his immune system unable to defend against bacteria and viruses.  Being a teenager on its own can be an ordeal, but Travis has had to face his teenage years with the uncertainty that comes with his disorder that is constantly affecting his health. Now with the rapid spread of the coronavirus, this is a very scary time for the Reirden family.

Ironically, during the early stages of the spread of the coronavirus, it may have been an illness that initially kept Travis out of harm's way.

"He was not in school, and it was a little bit of a fortunate break, for the prior month or more coming into this virus and the shutdown of everything," Reirden said. "He had gotten sick, had been tested, had the flu at the end of January. So for him, it takes him a little longer to fight off things. He got a little bit behind in school ...  and they’ve actually put him on a homebound plan, which means that we had a tutor coming to our house and working with him to get him caught up while he was continuing to not just be healthy but also rebuild up his immune system before he went back into the school system. And as he was getting caught up and everything was going good and he was feeling better and all set to go back to school, then there was talk of this coronavirus so we kept him at home."

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But keeping Travis at home was far from the only precaution the family had to take.

Since the spread of the coronavirus, health officials have advised everyone to wash their hands, avoid large groups and practice social distancing. The Reirdens now take this to a serious degree.

"We've really had to be careful about what we're bringing into the house and not leaving and making sure that if we do go out and do something, that we basically leave all of our clothes at the door and make sure that they get washed and wash our hands," Reirden said.

The tutor that was working with Travis is no longer able to come and he now has to do his schoolwork online instead.

Travis was also receiving plasma treatments from a nurse who would come into the family home to administer it to him for several hours. The family elected to forgo those treatments for the time being.

"It was our decision that we made that during this virus and shutdown time that it would not be a good idea to have someone coming into our house at this time," Reirden said. "And Travis felt that someone who had that type of specialization and health background that they should be out helping others who are going through this virus right now and if we could do it as long as we could and he was still feeling healthy then he would go without right now, without any treatments, unless there was an issue."

With the whole world on edge right now, all the added anxiety going through the Reirden household would be tough to take, but Reirden says Travis has approached it all with remarkable maturity.

Not only did he advocate discontinuing plasma treatments to free up the nurse to be used where they may be most needed, but he also has been able to keep things in perspective with his friends.

While his friends struggle to adapt to the current world of health precautions and social distancing, they are getting just a glimpse of how Travis has had to live his life.

“It’s interesting from his standpoint that he’s gone through a lot of these things kind of having to go through this type of deficiency that he has," Reirden said. "Some of his friends are going through now when they’re on Facetime or they’re talking and they’re like, ‘We can’t get together.’ Originally, you couldn’t get together with more than 10 people and those were all decision and you can’t be in groups, and you’ve got to be a little further away from people with social distancing. These are all things that [Travis] does on his own now. So, he’s found that interesting that now his friends are seeing a little bit of how his life has to go when he’s out in the public and the precautions he needs to take just because of the inability to fight off everything as easily as others."

So far, everyone has remained healthy through the pandemic, but this will continue to be nervous times for the Reirdens. While the coronavirus may not seem like a big deal to some, the Reirdens do not have the luxury of being so dismissive.

Said Reirden, "It certainly has made it a different situation in the Reirden household."

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How to watch classic Capitals games this week on NBC Sports Washington

How to watch classic Capitals games this week on NBC Sports Washington

If you just can't get enough iconic Caps games during quarantine, then NBC Sports Washington is the place for you.

All week long beginning Monday, April 6, NBC Sports Washington will be airing classic Capitals games, including multiple comebacks and culminating with the five games against Vegas in the 2018 Stanley Cup Final.

The games leading into the postseason re-air will include multiple memorable finishes from the 2019-20 season.

Of course, if you make it that far, you certainly won't want to miss the re-airing of the Capitals championship parade that follows.

Here's a rundown of all the games airing this week on NBC Sports Washington:

Washington Capitals at Vancouver Canucks

Date: Monday, April 6
Time: 8 p.m.
Original Game: October 25, 2019

Backup goaltender Ilya Samsonov had a rough day in net, allowing five unanswered goals in quick succession from the end of the first period into the second. But Evgeny Kuznetsov broke the Caps' drought in the final second of the second period, sparking the team to a remarkable four-goal comeback.

The Caps would eventually win in a shootout, kicking off a six-game winning streak.

Vegas Golden Knights at Washington Capitals

Date: Wednesday, April 8
Time: 8 p.m.
Original Game: November 9, 2019

The game that capped off the Caps' aforementioned six-game winning streak - and extended their point streak to 11 - was an easier win. The Caps pulled ahead early and never looked back, keyed by Backstrom's two-goal day.

Of course, games against the Golden Knights will always have a special place in fans' hearts after the summer of 2018.

San Jose Sharks at Washington Capitals

Date: Thursday, April 9
Time: 8 p.m.
Original Game: January 5, 2020

This was as wild a finish as the Caps have had in a long time. Down 3-2, they pulled Braden Holtby late in the third period, and the Sharks took advantage with an empty-netter. Then, miraculously, the Capitals scored twice in the final 47 seconds of the game to force overtime, where they won the game.

The Caps would have considered themselves lucky just to come away with a point here, and instead, they got two in one of the most memorable finishes in franchise history.

How to watch the 2018 Stanley Cup Final, Washington Capitals vs. Las Vegas Golden Knights

All-day Sunday, April 12

Game 1
Time:
9 a.m.
Location: Las Vegas
Original Game: May 28, 2018

The first team in the nation's capital to make even a semifinal run in 20 years, the hype surrounding the Capitals in the Stanley Cup Final was immeasurable. The Golden Knights hosted Game 1 with a breathtaking opening ceremony, and the two teams jumped on each other early with a 2-2 first period. 

Washington took the lead 4-3 early in the third period, but Braden Holtby struggled during the frame and the Caps fell 6-4 to fall behind in the series, as they had throughout the postseason run.

Game 2
Time:
11:30 a.m.
Location: Las Vegas
Original Game: May 30, 2018

The Caps fell behind early in the game, but bounced back to steal a close Game 2. Alex Ovechkin scored his first goal of the series, Braden Holtby was superb - including an all-time legendary save - and the Capitals headed home tied 1-1 in the series.

Game 3
Time:
2 p.m.
Location: Washington
Original Game: June 2, 2018

The first home championship game Washington hosted in years, Game 3 was as hot a ticket as you'll ever find.

Holtby was terrific once again, allowing his only goal in the third period. Evgeny Kuznetsov recorded a goal and an assist, and to nobody's surprise, it was Ovechkin who scored the Caps' first home goal of the series.

Game 4
Time:
4:30 p.m.
Location: Washington
Original Game: June 4, 2018

Game 4 was the Caps' biggest explosion. They scored six goals in the game, including three on the power play. Six different players netted goals for the Capitals in a well-rounded effort, boosted by Backstrom's three assists.

After their easiest win of the series, the Caps were riding high up 3-1 heading back to Las Vegas.

Game 5
Time:
7 p.m.
Location: Las Vegas
Original Game: June 7, 2018

The one that needs no introduction, right? After a scoreless first period, the teams exploded for five combined goals in the second period, including a power play goal from Ovi.

Trailing 3-2 entering the third period, the Caps needed someone else to step up, and they got it. Devante Smith-Pelly tied the game midway through the frame, and Lars Eller gave them the Cup-clinching goal a few minutes later.

Holtby held on the rest of the way, and the Capitals became your 2018 Stanley Cup Champions.

Championship Parade

Time: 9:30 p.m.
Original Date: June 12, 2018

What more needs to be said? The Capitals kicked off the great summer of celebration in style, parading through Washington, D.C. and sharing the glory of their title runs during an unforgettable afternoon with thousands of fans.

If you somehow missed this live, you don't want to miss re-living it now.

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