The Capitals had a unique contract situation heading into the 2017-18 season. Head coach Barry Trotz was on the final year of his contract and was not given an extension. Associate coach Todd Reirden’s contract, meanwhile, ran through 2018-19.
That set up an awkward situation heading into the season, one that was exacerbated by the Caps’ 10-9-1 start to the season.
While the media speculated there Trotz and Reirden’s contract situation could cause tension among the coaches, Reirden says that was never the case.
“Obviously, there was talk about [a] contract situation for the fact that I had one moving forward as an associate and he didn’t have one going into the season,” Reirden said Tuesday after he was formally introduced as the Capitals head coach. “So there was a lot made of that and it was something that was not really a very big factor at all – if at all."
But Trotz’s subsequent resignation and Reirden’s hiring shows that the team indeed viewed Reirden as a potential head coaching candidate. That sort of dynamic between coaches has the potential to destroy a team internally. Lines can be drawn, sides can be taken between both players and coaches.
A tough conversation had to be had between Trotz and Reirden to make sure everyone was on the same page.
Reirden approached the situation with the same philosophy he hopes to bring with him as head coach.
“I think sometimes when you deal with difficult situations – and I think this kind of really goes along with my stance as a coach – is sometimes you have to have difficult discussions and some things that aren’t necessarily fun conversations. But they need to be had,” Reirden said. “And I think that’s the important thing and something I’m certainly not afraid of dealing with Barry or any of the players is having difficult conversations as well as ones in patting them on the back.
“It’s something that we went through and I think the honesty and dealing with it and getting the issues out just so everyone had a clear understanding of what was going on, it always ended with the same thing that whatever happens, I am all in to win the Stanley Cup and I want to help your staff any way possible win the Stanley Cup."
If there was any lingering animosity between the coaches, Reirden did not show it. Trotz was among the first people he thanked during his introduction “for bringing me into this organization, making me a part of his staff, bringing me to Washington and making me fall in love with this area.”
“It was always a goal that [Trotz] talked to me about, that 'I want you to be ready and prepared for an opportunity where it's your press conference,'" Reirden continued. “And today I'm able to reach that goal.”
Reirden went on to say he has been in contact with Trotz since he was hired to replace him in Washington.
“It’s important to understand that I’m not here today without Barry taking a chance on me and hiring me to be a part of his staff. We’ve gone our own separate ways and his situation making a decision that was best for him and his family and you know certainly this is not something we ever envisioned playing out like this, but I am certainly excited to be in this spot right now and being able to take advantage of the things I was able to learn from him and continue to build on some things that we started in our process here of becoming champs and move our organization forward and be a big part of Washington Capital history.”
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