Brooks copy

Photo: Amanda Bowen

One hundred sixty days after the Washington Capitals missed the playoffs for the first time since 2007, 66 players took to the ice in Arlington, Virginia looking to atone for a lost season. New head coach Barry Trotz put his players through a 45-minute practice and then a rigorous skate test, which left many exhausted, including Alex Ovechkin. This year’s training camp is supposed to be a hard one, part of Trotz’s plan to transform this team from an also-ran into a real success. The Caps have just two days of training camp to get their legs under them before the preseason opens on Sunday.

Below the jump are photos from the day via RMNB’s newest contributor, Amanda Bowen.

Continue Reading

Ovi_11 copy

Photo: Amanda Bowen

On the first day of training camp, new Washington Capitals head coach Barry Trotz set the tone for the upcoming season by putting all 66 Caps players through a difficult skating test.

According to The Patriot-News’ Tim Leone, “the conditioning skate involved skating the length of the rink down and back twice and then back through the red line.” What made it worse was this came immediately after each group’s 45-minute practice session. Talk about brutal.

The players only had to do the test three times if they were able to beat 38 seconds on the first two trips and 41 seconds on the third. However, if they failed to meet those times on any of the tests, they had to do the insane skate twice more.

On Thursday, Brooks Laich spoke about how the new coaching staff would require every player to meet the same standards and that they didn’t care “what your last name is.” Which brings me to these photos of a pained-looking captain and three-time MVP Alex Ovechkin after completing his test.

Continue Reading

brooks-laich-flexing

Photo by the incomparable Chuck Gormley

For those of you who need something optimistic to clutch onto after the first day of training camp, I have some news for you. Brooks Laich did not get injured within the first ten minutes of camp (unlike last year). So maybe this is the season he becomes healthy again. Fingers crossed.

On top of that, the good-groin’d Laich is returning to his role as a quote machine, which was sorely missed. On Thursday, he spoke to Mike Vogel and answered a question many of us have been wondering.

What is Barry Trotz’s system going to be laich (get it)?

Continue Reading

Tagged with:
 

darren-dreger-poo-poos-ovechkin

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin hasn’t played in a single game yet, but TSN’s Darren Dreger is already criticizing him for future wrongs. Two years after completely changing positions and not complaining under Adam Oates, Dreger is worried that the Russian machine won’t “buy in” on the plans of new Caps head coach Barry Trotz.

Welcome to Hot Take Central where the temperature is always scorching.

Continue Reading

Tagged with:
 

joe-b-trotz

Photo: @monumentalntwrk

It never ends, and I’m sorta okay with that. Today in #ALSIceBucketChallenge news, Capitals coach Barry Trotz and fashion maven Joe Beninati took the plunge. Monumental Network video’d the whole thing. It’s quite a production.

The promotion so far has raised over $40 million to fight amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Participants who get dumped on donate $10; those who fail to meet the challenge (e.g. me) donate $100.

I mention this because I consider what Joe and Barry did cheating. They dipped into the pool right after they got soaked, which means they were only chilly for like two seconds, tops. That’s not enough. So I think they should pony up another $90. Your thoughts?

Pretty pictures below.

UPDATE 4:45 PM: Caps Media Relations Manager Page Sagester says there was no cheating involved.

We are unable to confirm the report as we have not yet been invited to swim in the Caps’ hot cold tub.

Continue Reading

The End of the Trend

trotz and co

I’m really excited about the upcoming Caps season. After replacing Adam Oates with Barry Trotz, I predict the Caps will– finally– reverse their five-year decline and start to get better in 2014-15.

end-of-the-trend

But people who expect a coaching change to immediately transform the team into a Cup contender won’t find solace in the literature.

Teams changing coaches saw their Fenwick Close % increase about 0.35%; after a coaching switch, teams averaged one more Corsi attempt for and 0.4 more Corsi attempts against per 60 minutes, and saw very slight decreases in shooting and save percentages.

Nick Emptage, NHLNumbers.com

Long-term, there seems to be a 1-point boost (from 48.4% to 49.4%) once a team replaces its coach.

Gabriel Desjardins (I think), Arctic Ice Hockey

By that math (and before accounting for roster changes) we might expect the Caps to have around 48-percent puck possession next season. That would kind of suck. I’m a bit more optimistic.

Continue Reading

Tagged with:
 

Trotz

Photo: Chris Gordon

As the temperatures outside reached the 90s, Caps prospects and free agent invitees gathered inside a freezing Kettler Capitals Iceplex Monday for the first day of the team’s annual Development Camp. Afterwards, head coach Barry Trotz met the media. After focusing on the young players who will be Arlington this week, the conversation turned to the recent signings of Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen. Orpik’s 5-year, $27.5 million deal has been much maligned, as Orpik is an aging poor possession player.

Last week, new Caps GM Brian MacLellan defended Orpik’s numbers, saying he is relied upon for tough minutes and defensive zone starts. Trotz’s rationale for the signing was a little bit different than MacLellan’s, but probably just as disturbing to the Twitter intelligentsia.

“The effect is not going to be in goals and assists,” Trotz said. “It’s going to be in culture and winning and attitude.” Continue Reading

ovechkin-nhl-awards

Photo: @WashingtonCaps

Late last week, Alex Ovechkin flew to North America for a weekend-long electronica music fest. Also, the NHL Awards. After concerts and the time by the pool, Ovechkin also managed to take care of some serious business too: caucusing with his new coach, Barry Trotz.

The coach and his pupil had dinner on Saturday night (I’m guessing in lawn chairs behind Tiesto’s turntables) and discussed which wing Ovechkin would play, the team’s new system, and well, other stuff that we’re not allowed to know right now so quit asking because it’s private. I guess we’ll find out at training camp.

Continue Reading

Tagged with:
 

Trotz MacLellan (7 of 13)

Photo: Chris Gordon

Alex Ovechkin is the most important person under contract with the Washington Capitals, more pivotal than either the general manager or the head coach. Signed to a 13-year, $124 million dollar deal in 2008, Ovechkin has become the Caps. His jersey sales sustain the team off the ice while his goal scoring provides the plurality of their offense. The preeminent task for his coach, then, is to manage him effectively. Barry Trotz, hired Monday by Washington, will now have to do that.

“It starts with a relationship,” Trotz told reporters from the Verizon Center club level yesterday. “I know I’m going to work at that but it can’t happen until I have a relationship with him because there’s no trust. For me Alex has to trust that I’m giving him the best advice for the team, for him, to grow his game. I don’t know Alex as well. Going against him, I know what he does well, but I need to know Alex the person. Coaching’s not just about Xs and Os, it’s about people.”

Continue Reading

Trotz MacLellan (6 of 13)

Photo: Chris Gordon

“I don’t know if I could give specifics,” Brian MacLellan said when asked how he differs from his former boss George McPhee. “He’s a good friend. He’s a character guy.”

Then MacLellan broke down. After 10 years in the NHL, MacLellan retired from league in 1992. He got an MBA, becoming an investment banker. In 2000, his old college teammate McPhee brought him back to the sport, asking him to join his young administration in Washington as a part-time scout. MacLellan accepted. Thirteen years later, MacLellan was standing up against a wall at Verizon Center having just filled McPhee job. The two talked during MacLellan’s interview process.

“You know, it’s a hard thing,” MacLellan said, gathering himself. “We’re different people. We have different personalities, different way to approach things. I think any two people are different.”

“We’re good friends,” he added. “We’re really good friends, and we’ve grown up together.”

Continue Reading