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Backstrom says he needed to play

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Backstrom says he needed to play

Nicklas Backstrom’s first choice was to play for the Capitals this season.

His second choice was to play for his hometown team in Brynas of the Swedish Elite League.
 
But when he was locked out of both leagues, the 24-year-old center opted to sign with Dynamo Moscow of the Kontinental Hockey League.
 
“Brynas was my first choice, so of course I’m disappointed,” Backstrom told Sweden’s Aftonbladet Sportbladet [courtesy Japers’ Rink], “but it is what it is.

“I just couldn't sit around and wait for them indefinitely; this was my only alternative. I’m really looking forward to playing some hockey again. I’m not sure when I will play my first game for Dynamo Moscow, it depends on how I feel when I get over there.”

Although Dynamo Moscow had not announced Backstrom’s signing by late Friday afternoon, his agent, Marc Levine, confirmed the signing in an email to CSNWashington, saying “Nicklas has signed with Dynamo and will be in Moscow [Friday]. No further comment at this time.”

Backstrom had been skating with Capitals teammates at Kettler Capitals Iceplex for the past five weeks and said on multiple occasions that he wanted to play in the SEL if it would lift its ban on signing NHL players to contracts that allowed them to return to the NHL in the event of a labor settlement.

When it became clear the Swedish Elite League would no lift that ban Backstrom began exploring the possibility of teaming up with Alex Ovechkin in Moscow.

“He was mulling it around,” Capitals teammate Jason Chimera said. “Obviously, he wants to play hockey.

“It’s unfortunate for us to lose a guy because we have such limited numbers as it is. It sucks to lose him because he’s such a good player, too, but it’s good for him. He’ll play with Ovi and they’ll get some chemistry back and when they come back they’ll be flying together, so it’ll be good.”

Chimera said he, too, would be playing overseas if he did not have school-age children.

“I’ve got the urge to go now because you want to get some games under your belt,” he said. “For me going to Europe would be a drastic move. I move my family enough as it is. I drag them around the country and I don’t want to drag them to a different country.”

Dynamo Moscow has one other Swede on its roster, forward Richard Gynge, a former teammate of Backstrom.
“I’m really looking forward to finally play some games,” Backstrom told Aftonbladet. “I have been on ice over here in the States, but I probably am not in real game shape just yet.”
 

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: Suddenly the Caps are in need of a head coach

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USA TODAY Sports

Capitals Faceoff Podcast: Suddenly the Caps are in need of a head coach

Less than two weeks after winning the Stanley Cup, the Caps are in need of a new head coach.

Barry Trotz resigned as the Caps coach on Monday after he and the team failed to reach an agreement on a new contract. How did we get here and where do both parties go from here? JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir break it all down.

Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.

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7 things to know about Capitals head coaching candidate Todd Reirden

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USA TODAY Sports

7 things to know about Capitals head coaching candidate Todd Reirden

For now, Todd Reirden appears to be the frontrunner to be the new head coach of the Washington Capitals.

But who is he? 

Here are some things to know about the Capitals head coaching candidate:

1. Reirden spent the last four seasons with Washington on Barry Trotz's staff

Should Reirden be hired, he would bring a measure of familiarity with him few teams get after a coaching change. Reirden was hired by Trotz in 2014 when Trotz was putting together his staff. He was brought in to coach the team's defense and immediately improved the blue line.

In the year prior to Reirden's hiring, the Caps allowed 2.74 goals per game, good for only 21st in the NHL.

Here is what the defense has done in Reirden's four years in charge of the defense:

2014-15: 2.43 goals against per game, 7th in the NHL
2015-16: 2.33 goals against per game, 2nd in the NHL
2016-17: 2.16 goals against per game, 1st in the NHL
2017-18: 2.90 goals against per game, 16th in the NHL

In those four seasons combined, Washington allowed 2.45 goals per game, lower than every team in the NHL but one. He was also in charge of the team's lethal power play.

2. Reirden has been a head coach before

While he may never have been a head coach in the NHL, Reirden does have some head coaching experience.

Reirden was promoted to head coach of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in 2009 when Dan Bylsma was promoted to head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins. While head coach, Reirden led the team to a 55-43-8 record.

3. Reirden came to Washington from the Penguins

Reirden joined the Penguins organization in 2008 as an assistant coach with their AHL affiliate and took over as head coach later that season. He joined the Penguins' playoff staff during the 2009 Cup run. He was promoted to a full-time assistant coach under with the NHL team under Bylsma in 2010 and was there for four years until Byslma was fired. Reirden was not initially fired, but was allowed to seek other opportunities. When he was officially fired, the Capitals hired him the same day.

4. Reirden had a lot to do with Matt Niskanen signing with the Caps

Reirden was hired by the Caps on June 25, 2014. On July 1, Matt Niskanen signed with Washington.

Reirden and Niskanen developed a strong relationship while in Pittsburgh. Niskanen dealt with confidence issues after getting traded from Dallas to Pittsburgh in 2011. Under Reirden's tutelage, Niskanen developed into a top-pair defenseman. Niskanen's agent said at the time it was "no secret" that Reirden and Niskanen had bonded while both were in Pittsburgh.

Brooks Orpik also signed with the Caps as a free agent that year, the second defenseman from Pittsburgh to sign in Washington showing the level of respect they felt for Reirden.

5. Reirden nearly became the head coach of Calgary

Reirden interviewed for the head coaching job in Calgary in 2016 and was considered a finalist for the position before eventually losing out Glen Gulutzan.

Gulutzan was fired by Calgary after the 2017-18 season and is now an assistant coach in Edmonton while Reirden is the frontrunner to become the head coach for the defending Stanley Cup champions. Sounds like things worked out for Reirden.

6. The Caps have been grooming Reirden to be a head coach

Reirden was promoted to associate coach in August 2016 after Calgary had passed on him. Since then, the Caps have not allowed him to interview with other teams for head coaching positions. The implication was clear, this was someone the team wanted to keep.

"You know I think we’ve been grooming him to be a head coach whether for us or someone else," Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan Monday.

7. Reiden played in 183 career NHL games

Reirden was a defenseman drafted in the 12th round by the New Jersey Devils in 1990. After playing four years at Bowling Green, Reirden went pro with several seasons in the ECHL, IHL and AHL. He made his NHL debut with the Edmonton Oilers in the 1998-99 season. Reirden would also play with the St. Louis Blues, Atlanta Thrashers and Phoenix Coyotes. 

For his NHL career, Reirden scored 11 goals and 46 points in 183 games.

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