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

Trotz MacLellan (8 of 13)

Photo credit: Chris Gordon

On a hot late spring day a little over a month ago, Brian MacLellan met the media for the first time as general manager of the Washington Capitals. The move to hire him was surprising, with MacLellan’s only executive experience coming under his recently fired boss George McPhee. But in his first press conference, MacLellan conveyed a more analytic tone than McPhee. Capitals owner Ted Leonsis praised MacLellan as someone who would “refresh” an organization with an already strong core.

Many fans feared MacLellan would be a continuation of McPhee, accepting the status quo and perpetually insisting the Capitals could paper over their flaws. Instead, he has transformed the team in one day, spending a stunning $67.5 million.

“I think we had some needs and we addressed them,” MacLellan told reporters. “We had cap room. Ownership gave the green light to get to the cap and we spent the money where we thought we needed to spend it the most.”

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Words are Wind

“It’s going to be hard to take advantage of me.” – Brian MacLellan

Orpik. Five years. $5.5 million AAV.

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Doesn’t Look Like Caps Will Re-sign Mikhail Grabovski

Capitals General Manager Brian MacLellan spoke to the press after Friday night’s first round of the draft. He dropped this update on the pursuit to re-sign forward Mikhail Grabovski:

Thaaaaat’s not good.

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Trotz MacLellan (11 of 13)

Photos by Chris Gordon

Early Monday, the Washington Capitals announced that they had promoted Ross Mahoney, who has been the Caps’ director of amateur scouting for the past 16 seasons, to the vacant assistant general manager position.

At 1pm, Caps GM Brian MacLellan held a conference call with reporters to talk about Mahoney’s promotion, but the discussion quickly turned to everything else.

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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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brian-maclellan

It’s hard to know exactly what you’re going to get out of a general manager, especially one that has never been a general manager before.

After spending the past thirteen seasons in DC, seven as assistant general manager, Brian MacLellan has been promoted by Ted Leonsis and Dick Patrick on Monday.

Does GMBM have the credentials? It’s hard to know exactly. The Caps tell us he’s won a Stanley Cup as a player, though he was a bit of a passenger on that Cup-winning Flames team in 1989. He played 606 career NHL games with the Los Angeles Kings, New York Rangers, Minnesota North Stars, Calgary Flames and Detroit Red Wings. MacLellan was also a teammate of McPhee’s at Bowling Green for four seasons.

The Caps tell us MacLellan oversaw the club’s professional scouting staff (the evaluation of dudes at the NHL level) and worked closely with the Hershey Bears, who won Calder Cups in 2006, 2009, and 2010. The Bears, who dominated in the early years of their affiliation– when Washington was rebuilding– have faltered since – missing the playoffs completely this season after aggressively signing minor-league free agents last summer. The Bears watched head coach Mark French leave the organization, who has since gotten rave reviews leading the KHL’s expansion Medveščak Zagreb. Medveščak made the KHL playoffs last season.

On Monday, Leonsis– as open and upfront as he can– wrote a long blog post about the hiring, hinting that MacLellan winning the job was a surprise even for him.

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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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