Barry Trotz has made it clear he does not think the Washington Capitals’ history of playoff failures affects the mentality of the team. On Tuesday, general manager Brian MacLellan made it clear that he disagrees with the head coach’s assessment.
"I think that plays a big part in the pressure on our team,” MacLellan told reporters. “Your history's your history. Whether you come in here last year or at the deadline, you're going to feel it. I can feel it up in the box that past pressure manifests itself in the present day. To ignore it I think is a mistake.”
Trotz raised eyebrows in the wake of the team’s Game 7 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins when he said the players had all gotten past the team’s postseason history, even going so far as to call it a “joke.”
“I think it's so overworked by [the media] and everybody else that it's actually becoming a joke to the guys,” Trotz said at breakdown day, “Which is probably good because playoffs haven't been fun here and maybe having some fun and laughing at the past a little bit and looking in the face is probably something that might ease us in the future. But it's become more of a bad question by media now because guys are sort of chuckling about it all the time now.”
MacLellan wasn’t laughing on Tuesday.
“I think you've got to acknowledge it and then you've got to work through it,” MacLellan said to reporters. “Just to say it doesn't matter – because it pops up – and if you're not acknowledging it, you're not going to be able to get through it because you're ignoring it. I would say all the past history matters to us, and then you can feel it in the building. You feel it in the crowd. It's in there. You tell me in that Game 7 that you couldn't feel it.”
MacLellan even went so far as to say the history was no longer Washington’s history, but now after three years of disappointing postseason results, both he and Trotz were a part of that history.
“We lost a Game 7, we lost a Game 6 last year, I think we’re part of it as an organization,” he told Jill Sorenson in a one-on-one interview. “I think three years ago we started as a fresh group and the history’s your history. Now we’re involved in it. I think it’s important for us to acknowledge it, it’s important for us to work through it. I think once we bring it to our awareness as the players do and the coaches do, we’ll have a better chance of moving through it.”
The question now is how does the team move through it? Well, that can be a problem if the coach and general manager do not see eye to eye on the issue.
MacLellan said he has spoken to Trotz about their different outlooks regarding the team’s history saying, “He philosophically disagrees. We just have a different way of looking at it.”
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