Photo: Rich Lam

As first reported by the the Winnipeg Free Press’s Gary Lawless, the Washington Capitals are close to hiring former Predators head coach Barry Trotz. Trotz, who spent 16 years in Nashville, interviewed with Caps brass on Tuesday.

While Lawless is the first to report that the Manitoba native was nearing an agreement, he’s not the only respected industry source to point to the Caps to having serious interest in Trotz. ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun called Trotz the front-runner for the position and that talks between the two sides were “intensifying.” Hockey Night In Canada’s Elliotte Friedman reported that Trotz was “closing in on Washington.

Trotz has a long history with the Capitals and team president Dick Patrick. Per LeBrun:

[Trotz] served as a part-time scout for the organization in 1987, and joined it full time as its chief western scout in 1988.

He was named head coach of the Baltimore Bandits, the Capitals’ AHL affiliate, in 1992. When the Skipjacks relocated to Portland, Maine, and became the Portland Pirates, he led them to two Calder Cup Finals appearances in four seasons and a championship in the 1994-95 season.

While Trotz played a mostly defensive-first scheme in Nashville, he recently explained that was due to the talent the team had. When speaking to The Washington Post’s Katie Carrera last week, Trotz said he’d tailor his system to fit the strengths of the players on the roster.

“You need balance and if you have dynamic people – I’ve always tried to assess the talent and say ‘Okay, how can we get better as a group and how can we win hockey games?,'” Trotz said. “I’ve played a number of different systems based on our personnel but I like the personnel to dictate the strength. In Nashville, our strength was in net and defense. So our team would take the personality of the top players and that was most often on the back end.”

In 1,196 NHL games, the 51-year-old is 557-479-60-100. The Predators, who were an expansion team when Trotz was first hired, made the playoffs seven times in 15 seasons. Five out of the seven times Trotz led the Predators to the playoffs, they lost in the first round. Twice they’ve made it to the second round and lost. Nashville, who’s roster lately has lacked offensive talent, has missed the playoffs the last two seasons.

Trotz has a wife, Kim, and four children: Shalan, Tyson, Tiana and Nolan. Trotz’s son Nolan has down syndrome and is inspirational figure for the family. Take a look at this video.

Trotz, who made a huge impact in the community while coaching in Nashville, is one of the notorious good guys in hockey. In 2005, he won the Community Spirit Award. He also took a full page ad out in the Tennessean thanking Predators fans for their support after he was fired.

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  • JenniferH

    Considering he’s made it clear that he intends to design a system to
    the roster he has and not stick with a system JUST BECAUSE (ala Oates), plus he has experience, so I’m cautiously optimistic.

    My key concern is his history with Grabo. I just hope that they can put that behind them, and can sit down and clear the air. I do NOT want to lose Grabo.

  • riggorules

    Good guy, but weak fancy stats. For the amount of time I’ve spent reading about puck possession numbers here, and elsewhere, how is this not a huge concern?

  • Jonathan Garcia

    I really soured on Trotz the last couple of years in Nashville, but most of that had to do with a “the organization really just needs a change” mentality. This season especially there were tons of questionable decisions that were a little infuriating. (Not nearly as bad as what Oates was doing, but still not great.)

    That said, he’s a tremendous coach and an even better person. He’s got a great hockey mind, and I can only imagine what he’ll be able to do with elite players like Ovechkin and Backstrom. Initially I didn’t want this to happen, but having time to actually think about it I’d really like this hire.

    Just the two cents from a Caps fan that covers the Predators.

  • VeggieTart

    The fact that he intends to tailor his system to the players’ abilities comes as a huge relief. Isn’t that what a coach is supposed to do?

  • Rob W.

    I know i should remember what happened between the two of them but ive had a quite a few concussions in my day so my memory isnt too great haha

  • Jonathan Garcia

    He’s great at doing that, as well. I’ve alwasy referred to him as the “Chopped Champion” of the NHL. David Poile would always give him a basket of mystery ingredients every season, yet Trotz would still find a way to make them cohesive and competitive, even if they really shouldn’t have been.

  • Jonah

    What do you mean history with Grabo?
    You must be thinking of randy Carlyle. He’s the leafs coach who soured on Grabo

  • Lawrence

    This probably means Shero will get announced our GM as well, maybe even the same day. Tough to say if its the right move or not. He was my first choice out of the experienced coaches available for us, but his track record of defense scares me a tad, however it is nice to hear him say he is willing to change his system for a roster.

    The more I think about it, the more I like it tbh.

  • Rob W.

    I really like this hire, pairing him with Shero who will get him the players he never had in Nashville would be great too. The video of his son is so awesome too

  • Joe LaCour

    Shouldn’t they hire a GM first?

  • Rob W.

    ahhh that makes me feel less dumb, i was struggling to remember a riff between trotz and grabo

  • Lawrence

    Thanks for sharing bud, good insight.

  • A few things:

    1) I wrote a news post (see below) – there is not much analysis here beyond some dashboard stats and a list of his playoff successes and failures. Let’s wait and see what happens. I’m sure we’ll have more in the coming days if he is indeed hired.
    2) I care about fancy stats – but I’m not sure how much they can be successfully attributed to a coach – especially one who was kind of forced to use a defensive system to win and his team never spent to the cap.

  • Thanks, Jonathan. I appreciate you commenting. What were some of the questionable decisions that you found a little infuriating? A random bulleted list works for me.

  • riggorules

    Yeah, I wasn’t being critical of the post, just curious as to what others think.

    I don’t think being “defensive” means you have to be outshot. There have been low-scoring teams who control the puck, no?

    Anyway, looking forward to reading your analysis.

  • Jonathan Garcia

    -Changing line combinations every game and not letting them gel.
    -Scratching skill players in favor of grinders.
    -Putting players in the “doghouse” when they did something wrong. (Michael Del Zotto was there for most of the time after he was acquired.)

    It’s also believed (though not confirmed) he told Poile to get a bunch of depth players, which is why last year’s free agency was spent throwing tons of money at Matt Cullen, Eric Nystrom and Matt Hendricks.

    Of course, the Predators roster has been as mediocre as you can get since 2011-12, and they were only 4 points out of a playoff spot despite that AND losing Rinne for almost the entire season.

  • Luke Anthony

    I’m fine with Trotz, I think Willie Desjardins was really the only other top option.

  • Ben

    I like it. They could have done worse

  • He sounds like Dale Hunter. Also, I’m going to need more information about #PredatorHard! Hahaha.

  • Luke Anthony

    Have to remember he coached an expansion team, not really fair to hold him accountable first five years because he had nothing to work with. Excluding his first five years, he has a better record than Darryl Sutter did when L.A. hired him. Also really doubt this implies anything about who the GM will be.

  • JenniferH

    I was mixing up Trotz/Erat and the similarity with Grabo/Carlyle. My bad. Oops. Glad I was wrong with that. Thanks for the connection reminder there.

  • JenniferH

    My bad, see correction above. No bad blood there with Grabo and Trotz.

  • JenniferH

    My dumb, not yours!

  • JenniferH

    Thanks for the info from someone who knows both teams. I really appreciate your insight. 🙂

  • Jonathan Garcia

    No problem! The two don’t intersect often, so I do what I can when they do!

  • yv

    Now we should really hope that the vision of the future new GM will not be in conflict with the Trotz’ vision. Otherwise, Caps will find themselves in the same situation they have been in the last 3-4 years, essentially without unified vision across the organization.

  • Bilal

    I Like this move. He said that he’ll change the system depending on what roster players he has, which is already good., but when Paul Kariya was in Music City, (05-07) they averaged more then 3 goals (3.08 per game in 05-06, 3.24 in 06-07). And other then Kariya, Nashville has never really had great offensive players. I think he’ll do great for us (assuming these reports are true and we hire him asap)

  • Begemot

    He’s probably the best of the remaining contenders. If he actually designs the system for the roster, he should do well.

  • JenniferH

    As resident-Holtby-fangirl-enthusiast, do you have any thoughts on Trotz and the goalies? I mean, our last HC kinda, rather made a mess of that whole situation, ya know?

  • Shea Angus

    Just to clear something up with everybody that is concerned about the Coach over the GM deal. Trotz said he would prefer to have a GM in place first so he must have been satisfied with whatever name they gave him as most likely.

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  • JenniferH

    Yeah, and I’m thinking at this point the GM is probably going to be Shero, Sweeney or Fenton and Trotz has a history (a good one, from what I’ve read) with all three. I’d imagine they are coming to a close in picking their GM and have a good idea it’s going to be among those three, and again, all three have ties to Trotz and have worked with him. (I’d prefer Fenton, then Sweeney, then Shero, but it’ll probably be Shero knowing my luck.)

  • Shea Angus

    Personally I hope Sweeney gets the job. Trotz and Benning were the two number ones on my list and Sweeney would be the next best thing.

  • Jack Conness

    Also sounds like Adam Oates. Especially the doghouse part. That isn’t good…

  • Smiley456

    Jonathan wrote, “scratching skill players in favor of grinders.”

    Not an issue with the Caps. We don’t have any certified grinders. -)

    Mr Garcia…thanks for your input. And can you tell us why Poile is still Preditors GM? (i do like Poile, but….)

  • Smiley456

    Open Question: Why didn’t McPhee “order” the coaches (Hunter/Oates) to stop doing stupid stuff? McPhee never seemed pleased with coach’s strategy. Guess he had a hands off policy, but…..

  • Smiley456

    Trotz sort of looks like Boudreau’s hard-ass brother. 🙂 I think that’s a good thing.

  • Karina Saint
  • Jonathan Garcia

    One of the reasons Nashville has been such a goalie factory is because of their goalie coach, Mitch Korn. He’s Yoda, and I would be ecstatic to see him in DC. It was speculated he’d end up where Trotz does, but he’s still technically employed with the Preds and not sure they want to replace Kolzig.

  • Jonathan Garcia

    Honestly, I thought Poile was going to be fired before Trotz. No idea how he escaped that one. Hiring Laviolette was a good move, but I figure if they don’t make the playoffs this year he’s gone.

  • Smiley456

    thx! for the response. I always respected Poile, although dyeing his hair orange was a bit over the top.

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  • bskillet

    Wasn’t sure about this guy but after reading I obviously didn’t know, coaches according to talent, well we should have plenty of that depending on our new GM???

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  • Austin

    Damn look at allllll thatttt crosbmalkin money ( read in a country accent..)

  • The Devils are a very low scoring team who outscore the competition, so yeah you’re right.

    Re: Trotz, I dunno if Nashville’s torpor is because of Trotz or because of Poile. It’s certainly a combination of both, but we shall see once we start swapping out variables.

  • CappyTal

    Kolzig has done a great job anyway. Washington has developed a number of talented goalies. With a normal coach it’ll get back on track fast.

  • CappyTal

    I was thinking that too. Overall I’d still wish for lavy though.

  • Sasha Nicole Kitty Cat

    New to hockey and loving it!! I hope that the new management/coaching team is announced as the trading season is coming up. I think Trotz would like to have someone “shop” for him re free agents.

  • RESmith

    I wouldn’t count out that Brian MacLellan ends up being promoted from AGM to GM. I share Japers’ Rink’s nervousnes on that.

  • RESmith

    If this come to pass, this is great news and I am happy to welcome Trotz back to the organization. Was sorry to see him go in ’97. Smart coach and looking forward to the Caps playing a more balanced game.

    As for those worried about Trotz being too defensive minded a coach for this to work, I agree with those that have stated that that might been more of a product of coaching an initially low budget team then one where more of the talent was on the blueline and in the net. Quenneville wasn’t thought of a high powered offensive coach when he was hired to coach that core in Chicago.

    I think it is going to come down to who is hired (or retained) as the assistant coaches which will determine if the Caps end up being a boring defense-at-all costs team. If Claude Noel is one of them, then be worried.

  • JenniferH

    Thanks. 🙂

  • JenniferH

    Ovechkin! I mean, he IS a generational player. A superstar. Etc. Backstrom is pretty awesome. When not being messed up by Oates, Holtby has the potential to be an elite goalie. Kuzya has the potential to be outstanding. So does Wilson. We’ve got some awesome prospects. Plus, the Caps have a fairly young roster of potentially outstanding players with some hitting their prime players (Carly and Holtby, some I’m so forgetting). Ovi, Backsi, Fehrsie, Wardo, Chimmy, Grabo, etc. are still performing and have plenty of juice in the tanks. This is a definite Cup-potential team, and with the youngin’s on board a long-term Cup-franchise potential team.

    The pieces just need to be put into place, and that’s what’s been missing the last few years. Once that happens, we’re to the moon, baby!

  • Eric Schulz

    Maybe I’m making too many excuses, but I think it may have just been a product of how it made sense to build the team. When starting out as an expansion team, of course you can’t get a lot of skill. But they also didn’t really get too lucky with draft picks (Wild got Gaborik, CBJ got Nash, they got Legwand, a fine player, but not on their level, and I think that’s just due to luck, not getting the higher pick in years when they needed it, it wasn’t a scouting problem), but also, they seem to have done a very good job of going the other way with regards to planning. Most teams seem to value drafting forwards, and building a roster that way. It makes sense, but when everybody is doing one thing, it also makes sense to go the other way; the Preds did a great job of really stacking the blueline (and they had great goalie development too, but I’d attribute that much more to coaching/development than identifying talent in the draft… call it identifying the right guys in the draft who they can develop, sure, same dif). But they just did a good job of building their team by exploiting a market inefficiency (drafting defenders). Considering it generally takes longer, they had to stay solvent for a while before they could really start to click; it seems like that’s mostly what happened. They were competitive even in their first few years before they had any noteworthy players, and after a handful of years they really hit their stride and became a playoff team for a solid stretch. They kind of hit a wall here the last few years, hence Trotz being fired… but if the Flyers (one of the worst organizations in hockey, btw; Toronto and Philly are, by far, the dumbest teams in the league when it comes to evaluating and paying talent properly) hadn’t killed the Preds by extending that offer to Weber, than the Preds are in a better place these last few years… if Suter doesn’t want to go to Minnesota, Trotz still has a job.
    I’m hoping he’ll work at getting more effective defense out of our players (especially Ovechkin, obviously), but that he won’t try to stifle the team’s creativity in doing so. If he’s as good of a coach as I think he is, he’ll just pull a Phil Jackson in trying to get better defense out of Ovechkin… Ovie’s shown the ability to play defense, if we can just get him to focus a little more on it and consistently put himself in the right position, he can be a positive force on defense too. With the offensive talent on our roster, at forward and on the blueline, I think you just have to instill a system that allows them their creativity and freedom, while just nudging them into playing smart, conscientious defense. I’m hoping that’s what Trotz has in mind.
    Also, he seems to roll 4 lines, and we could put together 4 above average lines here, so I’m hoping that we can take advantage of our forward depth there.

  • JenniferH

    That was it–he had a hands-off policy for the most part from what we heard.

  • Signal13

    A history of getting knocked out in the first round of the playoffs. Sounds like a perfect fit for the Caps!

  • Jonah

    yeah but its common practice for a new head coach to clean house and hire his own guys. don’t worry jen, we have a chance yet!

  • Pat Magee

    How many Norris trophies would Carlson win under Trotz? All of them.


    Brian MacLellan new Caps GM