LAS VEGAS—Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom weren’t expecting to lose their head coach less than two weeks after winning the Stanley Cup.
But business is business, Ovi said, and Barry Trotz is handling his by attempting to capitalize on claiming the championship.
“It’s sad,” Ovechkin said on the red carpet at the NHL Awards, where he accepted his seventh Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy on Wednesday night. “Obviously, we won together.”
The Caps’ captain also thanked Trotz for directing him—and his teammates—to new heights.
“First of all, [I want to] thank him for a great job to be our coach, to be our dad, to give us a chance to win,” Ovechkin said. “But then again, it’s a business. You never know what’s going to happen. I’m pretty sure he’s going to be fine and I wish him luck.”
Backstrom, meanwhile, said he was caught off guard by Trotz’s decision to step down over a contract stalemate with the team. Trotz asked for $5 million per for five seasons; the Caps balked over the terms Trotz’s camp sought.
“I was a little surprised, obviously,” Backstrom said. “I heard the scenario.”
Like Ovechkin, though, Backstrom praised the job Trotz did during his four-year tenure.
“He’s done a great job in Washington,” Backstrom said. “We obviously have him to thank for a lot. He’s done a tremendous job of schooling us and winning a championship. No one is going to take that away from him.”
“I was a little surprised, obviously.” — Nicklas Backstrom on Barry Trotz resigning. Backstrom said he’s exchanged text messages with the #ALLCAPS’ former head coach. #NHLAwards pic.twitter.com/siq88DW9Ss— Tarik El-Bashir (@Tarik_ElBashir) June 21, 2018
Trotz’s next move is unclear, but he’s a free agent and currently eligible to negotiate with any team. The Islanders are the only team with an opening for a head coach.
As for Washington, GM Brian MacLellan said that associate coach Todd Reirden will get the first crack at replacing Trotz.
Ovechkin said he thinks Reirden would be a good fit.
“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.”
MORE CAPITALS COVERAGE:
- Sticking point: Term, not money was what caused Trotz, Caps to separate
- Second thoughts?: Could the Caps have avoided losing Trotz with a 2017 extension?
- What's next?: Trotz has options for his next coaching job
- Next man up?: Todd Reirden the early leader to replace Trotz