LAS VEGAS — After the Stanley Cup had made it around to every player, Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin presented it to Coach Barry Trotz, handing it off and then allowing Trotz to lift it above his head proudly. Just as the championship was a first for Ovechkin and Washington, it was for Trotz, who has coached in the NHL for 20 years.
But not long after that moment, the obvious questions came: Will Trotz, whose contract expires July 1, be back next season?
“If he wants to be back, he’ll be back,” Capitals General Manager Brian MacLellan said.
This season was the last of Trotz’s four-year deal. When he didn’t get an extension before the season, both Trotz and Washington’s front office agreed to wait until after the season to address his future. His regular-season résumé includes two Presidents’ Trophies and three division titles. The Capitals advanced to at least the second round in his first three seasons, and had Washington not gotten past that point this time, then the team almost certainly would have moved on.
Now the question isn’t whether the Capitals want to strike a deal with Trotz – they clearly do – but whether he wants to return after spending the season as a lame duck. The New York Islanders have a head-coaching vacancy that could be appealing to Trotz, or perhaps at age 55, he merely wants to step away.
“I said to Brian there’s no reason that I don’t want to be there,” Trotz said on the ice. “No matter what happens, give me a couple of days to enjoy or not enjoy what happens. But … these are my kids. This is a pretty special group. We’ll talk. I’m not worried, one way or the other. I’ve been doing this for a long time. I don’t lose any sleep over it.”
Trotz was later asked more directly if there’s a future for him in Washington.
“Absolutely,” he said. “Absolutely.”