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Barry Trotz on coaching at World Cup of Hockey: ‘I wouldn’t trade it for the world’

Team Canada head coach Mike Babcock (back left) talks with assistant coach Barry Trotz during a World Cup game. (Dan Hamilton/USA Today Sports)

Two days removed from triumphantly hoisting the World Cup of Hockey trophy – and then drinking out of it – Barry Trotz took his rightful place behind the podium at Kettler Capitals IcePlex and gushed to reporters for 15 minutes about his experience sas an assistant coach for Team Canada.

Trotz will be back behind Washington’s bench for an exhibition game against the Islanders on Saturday night after some urging from his assistants, but he’s hopes to bring pieces of a victorious Team Canada with him.

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Associate coach Todd Reirden was the acting head coach while Trotz was away, and Trotz said he tried not to micromanage his Capitals staff, confident that training camp would be run well in his absence. He stayed abreast of what was happening through regular conversations with Reirden and others, but he was also immersed in Team Canada coaching responsibilities.

“I wouldn’t trade it for the world,” Trotz said. “It made me better. It stretched me. Hopefully, I can bring some of those things that I learned from all of the other coaches and even the management group.”

Trotz was around the coaching staff — Mike Babcock, Joel Quenneville, Bill Peters and Claude Julien — for a month, and said he often took notes on ideas such as new ways to manage meetings or off-days.

“Sometimes, you get stuck in your own way, and there’s a lot of things we do very, very well, but I want to make them better and find ways to make them better,” Trotz said. “And they’re not massive changes. There’s subtle ways of introducing it, and we’ll continue to try to do that. … When you’re sitting there living with other coaches 24/7, you get to talk a lot of hockey, so you get a lot of ideas.”

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Trotz got to experience the pressure and expectations that came with representing Canada in an international hockey tournament being hosted by Canada. He raved about the World Cup itself, that even the pre-tournament exhibition games rivaled NHL postseason ones. He said that Team Europe was a legitimate contender in the final series against the Canadians – “For anybody to say that the European team wasn’t a good team or didn’t deserve to be there, they’re crazy” – and that Team North America was the fan favorite.

“Trust me, if North America would’ve played Canada, they would’ve been cheering for the kids,” Trotz said. “We would’ve been the bad guys.”

Then there was what Trotz took away from the talent around him on a team that went undefeated in Toronto.

“It was exceptional,” he said. “I mean you get to work with guys that you try to stop night in and night out. There’s a reason that [Pittsburgh Penguins center] Sidney Crosby is considered the best player on the planet. He showed that in this tournament, that he was the best player. I know why the Chicago Blackhawks win. They get exceptional coaching, but they’ve got a great leader in Jonathan Toews. He pulls a lot of people in the fight. I could go down the list. [Los Angeles Kings defenseman] Drew Doughty, he’s the [Norris] Trophy winner, in my opinion, watching him on a day to day basis. I’m not pulling any punches. He’s the best defenseman on the planet right now. …

“We had a close group and you got to meet some of those guys, some of those stars you love to hate because they’re on the other team and you’re trying to stop them night in and night out. But you see why they’re stars and why they’re virtually unstoppable some nights.”

Did Trotz pick up any tips for how to stop Crosby when the Capitals play the Pittsburgh Penguins?

“I don’t know if it’s secret,” Trotz said. “It’s a real awareness of what he really can do and what you don’t want him to do. So you try to find ways for him to not do what he does.”

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Calling Crosby “a very exceptional person,” Trotz recounted a story about the Penguins star and his son, Nolan, who has Down syndrome, was playing on his iPad, and Crosby stopped to play with him.

“He didn’t have to do that,” Trotz said. “He just did. I’ve got a lot of respect for guys like that. And they were all like that. I got to work with a guy that I have the utmost respect for and one of my favorites in [Montreal Canadiens defenseman] Shea Weber, and those are great moments. I got to see some guys on other teams, our own team, so I’ll take a lot of memories back. … It was an exceptional experience.”