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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.”

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Trotz MacLellan (11 of 13)

Photos by Chris Gordon

When Adam Oates was introduced as the new Capitals head coach in 2012, the press conference was held in the basement of the Verizon Center. The arena’s interview room is a dingy space that brings to mind a Soviet office building. That was fitting for Oates’s tenure. On a hot Tuesday afternoon in May, Washington introduced the replacement administration. This time, they chose a more auspicious location. After being served a buffet of tilapia and oatmeal raisin cookies, media members sat down in nice padded chairs in the Acela Club to listen to Ted Leonsis, Dick Patrick, Barry Trotz, and Brian MacLellan talk about the future. I’ll have more on that later, but for now, here are my photos of the presser.

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trotz_mac_DL_052514

On Monday night, the Washington Capitals announced their new GM/coach combo. The Caps have promoted Brian MacLellan to the new general manager position, vacated by George McPhee. They also announced the hiring of Barry Trotz as the team’s new head coach.

MacLellan, 55, becomes the sixth general manager in the Capitals history after spending the past seven seasons as the team’s assistant general manager. Trotz, who spent 15 seasons with Nashville, returns to the organization where he first was hired as a scout in the late 80′s. Trotz has never taken one of his teams past the second round of the postseason.

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barry-trotz-caps

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.

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Willie Desjardins of AHL’s Texas Stars is one of the best coaches not currently in the NHL (Photo: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

The common thought among Capitals fans is that the team’s new coach must have NHL experience. The Caps last five hires — Adam Oates, Dale Hunter, Bruce Boudreau, Glen Hanlon, and Bruce Cassidy — were all rookie head coaches. This time around, names like Barry Trotz and John Stevens are getting a lot of buzz, whereas Willie Desjardins and Phil Housley are getting little.

Experience matters. All other things being equal, you should hire the guy with more experience, but that does not mean the Caps should discount what a rookie coach might bring. Because if a coach’s best quality is his experience, that’s not a great sign.

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caps-gm-candidates

Don Sweeney, Paul Fenton, and The Great One

The Capitals’ search for a new general manager continues, and while the process is pretty hush-hush, some details have gotten out.

Elliotte Friedman’s 30 Thoughts column names several candidates for new Caps GM, including Don Sweeney, Paul Fenton, and Ray Shero. He also mentions that Wayne Gretzky could be brought in to run the organization:

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