Capitals

Ivan's Takes: Champ For CP, Who Made Out Better?

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Ivan's Takes: Champ For CP, Who Made Out Better?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009
By Ivan Carter
CSNwashington.com Contributor

A question for Redskins fans: if you could do the 2004 Champ Bailey for Clinton Portis trade over again, would you? To me, it's pretty much one of those deals that's been a wash for both teams. Bailey has been one of the best corners in the game for the Broncos while Portis has been a very productive, if unspectacular, back for the 'Skins. The big difference, as of this writing, is that Bailey appears to have plenty of good football left in him while Portis is clearly nearing the end of his career as a go-to back.

A few things to consider about the trade and the players before you weigh in with an opinion:

1) The deal wasn't totally man-for-man; the Redskins also sent a second-round pick Denver's way. The Broncos used the pick to take running back Tatum Bell of Oklahoma State. He had a couple of good seasons for the Broncs and is now out of the NFL.

2) At the time, the Broncos were in the process of proving that they could plug just about any back into Mike Shanahan's system and succeed, and seriously needed a cornerback (the franchise had gone 18 seasons without a Pro Bowl corner). Conversely, the Redskins were coming off a 2003 season during which the forgettable Trung Canidate had been the leading rusher (600 yards).

3) Both players have been good. Portis is second to John Riggins on the 'Skins all-tine rushing list, and memorably came up huge during the team's run to the playoffs in 2005. Bailey has been to eight Pro Bowls and is generally considered to be one of the best in the game at his position (though he was beaten repeatedly the other night by the Steelers - that happens to the best of them though).

Your thoughts on the BaileyPortis deal? (For more on Champ's Return to DC, check out Dave Elfin's piece from The Washington Times.)

A couple of other 'Skins nuggets:

- Albert Haynesworth has generally been doing his thing this season. But he can't -- just can't -- jump offsides as he did on that 4th-and-1 near the end of Atlanta's first possession Sunday. Everyone in the world could see that Matt Ryan was simply trying to entice such a penalty.

- My view of the whole DeAngelo HallMike Smith thing is that it was much ado about little. Smith came to the defense of quarterback after a late hit by LaRon Landry, and Hall came over to defend Landry, who was surrounded by Falcons. No punches were thrown, and no real bad damage was done. Now, I would suggest to Hall that he would be better off showing toughness by making a tackle in a key situation this season, rather than talking postgame smack about the other team's head coach but hey, that's just me.

- I've been begging for more Marko Mitchell all season and on Sunday, the rookie had a couple of catches in limited action. Good. Let's see more of 84.

- You have to feel for second-year corner Chris Horton, was placed on injured reserve Wednesday with a bad toe injury. I came away from an interview with the young fella this summer very impressed. Good luck rehabbing Chris. Come back strong next season.

- It continues to baffle the mind that the 'Skins struggle so badly to find offensive linemen. Consider the 7-1 Vikings, who are starting a rookie second round pick at right tackle (Phil Loadholt), a second-year sixth-rounder at center (John Sullivan) and an undrafted free agent at right guard (Anthony Herrera). Or the 6-2 Patriots, who appear to have seamlessly found a replacement for injured veteran left tackle Matt Light in rookie Sebastian Vollmer, a second-rounder.

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MacLellan: Reirden will get the first crack at replacing Trotz

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USA TODAY Sports

MacLellan: Reirden will get the first crack at replacing Trotz

Will Todd Reirden replace Barry Trotz as head coach of the Washington Capitals?

Based on what GM Brian MacLellan said Monday, it certainly sounds like it’s Reirden’s job to lose.

“We’re going to start with Todd here,” MacLellan said. “I think we’ve been grooming him to be a head coach, whether for us or someone else.”

“We’ll see how the talk goes with him and we’ll make a decision based on that,” MacLellan added. “If it goes well, we’ll pursue Todd. And if it doesn’t, we’ll open it up a little bit.”

MacLellan said he isn’t sure exactly when the interview with Reirden will take place. The front office needs a few days to regroup. It’s also a busy stretch in hockey’s offseason. In the coming two weeks, MacLellan will direct the NHL draft in Dallas, monitor development camp in Arlington and then call the shots when free agency begins on July 1.  

“We need to take a breather here but I think Todd is a good candidate for it,” MacLellan said. “I’d like to sit down with Todd and have a normal interview, head coaching interview. I think most of our discussions are just casual. It’s about hockey in general. But I’d like to do a formal interview with him and just see if there’s differences or how we’re seeing things the same and if he’s a possibility for the head coach.”

Reirden, 46, spent the past four seasons on Trotz’s bench. He was elevated to associate coach prior to the 2016-17 season after coming up just short in his pursuit of the head coaching position in Calgary.

Reirden’s primary responsibility on Trotz’s staff was overseeing the defense and Washington’s perennially potent power play.

Prior to joining the Capitals in 2014, he was an assistant coach for four seasons with the Penguins. And before that, he spent a couple of seasons as the head coach of AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, the Penguins’ top minor league affiliate.

A native of Deerfield, Ill., Reirden also had a lengthy professional career that included 183 NHL games with the Oilers, Blues, Thrashers and Coyotes.

Asked what he’s looking for in the Caps’ next head coach, MacLellan said he’s looking for a forward-thinker, a strong communicator and a players’ coach.

Reirden is all of those things.

“Someone that's up to date on the modern game,” MacLellan said. “Someone that's progressive, looking to try different things. Someone that has a good relationship with players. They communicate, can teach, make players better. It's becoming a developmental league where guys are coming in not fully developed products and we need a guy that can bring young players along because more and more we're going to use young players as the higher end guys make more money.”

One of the side benefits of elevating Reirden is the fact he already has a strong relationship with many of the current players, meaning there won’t be much upheaval as the Caps look to defend their championship.

“It could be a natural transition,” MacLellan said. “But once we sit down and talk face to face about all the little small details in the team, I'll have a better feel for it.”

MacLellan said a decision on the other assistant coaches—Lane Lambert, Blaine Forsythe, Scott Murray, Brett Leonhardt and Tim Ohashi—will be made after the next head coach is named.

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Brian MacLellan explains the reasoning behind not extending Trotz before the 2017-18 season

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Brian MacLellan explains the reasoning behind not extending Trotz before the 2017-18 season

As shocking as the news of Barry Trotz’s resignation on Monday felt, it probably shouldn’t have given that whether or not he would return to Washington after the 2017-18 season was a storyline all year long.

Trotz entered the 2017-18 season on the last year of his initial four-year deal leading to speculation over whether the team was dissatisfied with his results and ready to move on from the head coach when his contract expired. Teams typically do not allow a head coach to enter the final year of a contract so that they do not appear to the players to be a lame duck coach.

Ultimately, that turned out to not be a problem as Trotz led the organization to its first Stanley Cup in his contract year. While there was interest from both sides in an extension in the wake of winning the Cup, ultimately a new deal could not be agreed upon and now the defending champs are without a head coach.

This begs the question, could things have been different had the team worked out a new contract with Trotz before the 2017-18 season? The answer is almost certainly yes, so how did things get to the point where Trotz was allowed to go into 2017-18 without an extension?

During a press conference with the media on Monday, general manager Brian MacLellan explained the team’s reasoning in not extending Trotz in the summer of 2017.

“We were struggling at the time to get over the hump,” MacLellan said. “We couldn't get over the second round and Barry hadn't been able to coach out of the second round yet either.”

In 15 seasons with the Nashville Predators, Trotz was not able to coach his team past the second round in the playoffs. In his three seasons with Washington leading up to the 2017-18 campaign, he had led the Caps to two division titles and two Presidents’ Trophies, but again could not get past the second-round hump that had plagued both him and the team.

Based on MacLellan’s comments, another early playoff exit would have likely led to the team choosing to allow Trotz's contract to expire.

“I think from the organization's perspective, some changes would've had to be made if we lost in the second round again,” MacLellan said.

But what if instead the unthinkable happened? What if the Caps forced Trotz into a “prove it” contract year and he was able to lead the team to the Stanley Cup? Didn’t they risk losing him all along?

Yes and no.

MacLellan confirmed reports on Monday that Trotz’s contract included an automatic two-year extension “at an increased rate” if he won the Cup. So while both sides were negotiating an extension, technically Trotz was already under contract through the 2019-20 season.

In the summer of 2017, MacLellan had a choice to make. At the end of the two-year championship window, he could choose to extend a head coach who had not brought the team the type of postseason success he was hoping for, he could fire a coach who had just won two consecutive division titles, two Presidents’ Trophies and whose team was eliminated in the playoffs by the eventual Stanley Cup champions, or he could ride out the final year of Trotz’s deal and, in the off chance the team won the Stanley Cup, still rest easy in the notion that Trotz would automatically remain under contract.

MacLellan went with option C. It almost worked.

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