A handshake and a conversation between Washington Capitals Coach Barry Trotz and Columbus Blue Jackets counterpart John Tortorella has become the subject of some scrutiny.
After the Capitals beat the Blue Jackets in Game 6 on Monday night to win their first-round series, a television feed showed the coaches shaking hands. Then on Sportsnet’s “Hockey Night In Canada” panel Thursday night, reporter Elliotte Friedman, reading Trotz’s lips, suggested that Trotz told Tortorella: “I’m gone. I’m gone. I’m not coming back. I’m gone.”
Of course, without the benefit of audio, there’s no way to know for sure what was said. Trotz is in the last year of his contract, and before the playoffs, General Manager Brian MacLellan said the team “wanted to wait to see how the year finished up total, the total year,” before deciding on his coach’s future. Some thus wondered whether Trotz saying “I’m gone” could refer to his future in Washington.
Asked about the conversation after Washington’s 3-2 loss to Pittsburgh in the first game of the second round Thursday night, Trotz denied that’s what he and Tortorella discussed in the brief exchange.
“We were talking, but we weren’t talking about that,” he said.
Washington won a third straight Metropolitan Division title this season, but while the team has advanced to the second round in all four years under Trotz, the Capitals have yet to advance to the Eastern Conference final. In his coaching career, Trotz has never gotten past the postseason’s second round.