Capitals

Capitals

In his first season as a head coach in the NHL, Capitals head coach Todd Reirden has earned himself a trip to the NHL All-Star Game.

Reirden will coach the Metropolitan Division Team for the NHL All-Star Weekend to be held Jan. 25-26 in San Jose, the league announced Saturday.



Barry Trotz stunned the league with his decision to resign as head coach of the Caps in the wake of the team’s Stanley Cup championship in June as he and the team could not reach an agreement on a contract extension. Reirden was named head coach soon after and was given the enormous task of taking over a defending championship team in his very first season as an NHL head coach.

In addition to the challenges of being a first-year head coach leading a championship team, Reirden has also had to deal with a number of significant challenges through the first half the season.

There was the dreaded Stanley Cup hangover, a lengthy suspension for Tom Wilson and a number of injuries including the loss of T.J. Oshie, Brooks Orpik, Braden Holtby and Christian Djoos. At no point this season has the team’s full roster been available to Reirden and yet, after stumbling out to a 7-6-3 start, Washington sits tied for first in the division at 24-12-4.

The key has been Reirden’s focus on personal relationships and development.

Despite keeping the majority of the roster together, the Caps have have had to call on a number of new additions and rookie players including Nic Dowd, Dmitrij Jaskin, Jonas Siegenthaler, Tyler Lewington and Pheonix Copley. Yet, the team continues finding success even with the constant need to shuffle he lineup.

The selection process for the coaches is based on the team with the highest points percentage in each division through Saturday’s games. All four coaches were set as of Friday night so the NHL made the announcement early Saturday afternoon.

After Friday’s loss in Dallas, the Caps find themselves in the midst of their first three-game losing streak of the season, but a points percentage of .650 was still enough to edge out Mike Sullivan and the surging Pittsburgh Penguins who have won eight straight.

Reirden will be joined by Holtby and John Carlson who were named to the All-Star team on Wednesday. Alex Ovechkin was originally named captain of the team, but has elected to skip the game in order to rest for the second half of the season. The full roster for the game was announced earlier this week.

The other three All-Star coaches will be Jon Cooper of the Tampa Bay Lightning (Atlantic Division), Paul Maurice of the Winnipeg Jets (Central Division) and Bill Peters of the Calgary Flames (Pacific Division). Reirden is the only first year NHL coach among the four, though Peters is in his first year with the Flames.

 

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