Alex Ovechkin says he was surprised by Barry Trotz’s decision to resign as head coach of the Washington Capitals but he’s grateful for their time spent together.
“It’s hard when it happened right away, you know?” Ovechkin said in an interview with NHL.com. “First of all, thanks to him for being with us, to give us a chance to win the Cup. All of what he did was only for the team, not for personal-wise. But I’m pretty sure he will be fine and he will find what he wants.
“It’s sad, but it’s a business. We can’t decide who’s going to be in and who’s going to be out.”
Trotz resigned less than two weeks after leading the Capitals to the first Stanley Cup in franchise history. In a press conference after the announcement, general manager Brian MacLellan said Trotz was looking for a substantial raise and the two sides couldn’t agree on a new contract.
“His representative wants to take advantage of Barry’s experience and Stanley Cup win and was trying to negotiate a deal that compensates him as one of the better coaches in the league, top four or five coaches,” MacLellan said. “I think the five-year term is probably a sticking point. You have a coach that’s been here four years, you do another five, that’s nine years. There’s not many coaches that have that lasting ability. It’s a long time and it’s a lot of money to be committing to a coach.”
In four years with Trotz behind the bench, the Capitals won the Metropolitan Division title three times and the Presidents’ Trophy twice. In 2016, Trotz won the Jack Adams Award as the league’s best coach.
Ovechkin wasn’t the only Capitals player with mixed feelings about Trotz’s decision. Centre Nicklas Backstrom also said he was disappointed Trotz won’t be back with the team next season.
“Especially this close after we won too,” he said. “But at the same time, hopefully there’s no hard feelings. He’s always going to be remembered in Washington as a champion, which is great, which he deserves.
“I would say a little surprised, but at the same time, I understand him.”
The New York Islanders officially hired Trotz Thursday. The Islanders are getting a coach that Capitals players will clearly miss.
“He was hard on me. He gave me very good advice because he has experience, and that’s the whole thing,” Ovechkin said. “When the coach knows who you are and knows how to use you, you just feel great.”