Speaking with reporters after the Capitals took their team photo Thursday, owner Ted Leonsis declined to comment on whether Trotz’s future is dependent on how the team performs in the playoffs this year.
“I don’t talk about contracts,” Leonsis said. “I think it’s inappropriate, especially right now.”
Trotz has an impressive résumé, as the fifth-winningest NHL coach of all-time, and the Capitals will now have reached the playoffs in all four seasons with him at the helm. The past two seasons, Washington won the Presidents’ Trophy as the league’s best regular season team, and after salary cap constraints weakened the roster going into this campaign, the Capitals are still expected to finish with more than 100 standings points, even as they’ve leaned on less experienced and cheaper players.
“I thought we’d have a really good team, a 100-point team,” Leonsis said. “We took some steps back, at least on paper, but I think we’ve played eight or nine rookies. We’re kind of rebuilding the team. We’re rebuilding the plane while flying it — the young players got the needed experience, and I think we’re set for this year. I think we have upside going forward. … So, I think we’ve done a really good job at resetting the team.”
But while Washington has had unparalleled regular season success, the team has bowed out in the second round of the playoffs in three straight seasons under Trotz. In his career as an NHL coach, he has never advanced to a conference final. Complicating matters is that MacLellan and Trotz were hired simultaneously four years ago, so Trotz wasn’t technically MacLellan’s choice. Also, associate coach Todd Reirden has one more year on his contract after this season, and when other teams sought to interview him for head-coaching vacancies this past summer, MacLellan did not permit it, fanning speculation that management may have already settled on its next coach.
Asked whether he has had any discussions with management about an extension of his own, Trotz said “not at all” before a game in San Jose earlier this month.