DALLAS — Washington Capitals General Manager Brian MacLellan plans to interview Todd Reirden for the team’s head-coaching vacancy next week, acknowledging that the job is Reirden’s to lose after Barry Trotz’s resignation Monday.
MacLellan briefly met with a handful of reporters after Thursday’s general managers meeting ahead of the NHL draft in Dallas. Trotz was named coach of the New York Islanders earlier in the afternoon, news that didn’t surprise MacLellan. The sides decided to split after Trotz was unhappy with a two-year extension that would’ve paid him less than $2 million per season before bonuses, and his contract with the Islanders is reportedly in the neighborhood of $20 million for five years.
“I could have guaranteed it,” MacLellan said with a chuckle. “I’m happy for him, you know? I think he got what he wanted, and that’s a good opportunity for him. It’s a good payday for him, too, so it worked out good.”
MacLellan described the situation — a coach resigning and taking a new job with a division rival all within two weeks of winning the Stanley Cup — as “awkward” and “weird.” Assistant coach Lane Lambert has been given permission to interview elsewhere, and MacLellan has yet to speak with director of goaltending Mitch Korn, but he plans to soon. Lambert and Korn followed Trotz to Washington from his previous coaching staff in Nashville, so it seems likely they’ll join him with the Islanders.
Reirden spent four years on Trotz’s staff as his top assistant, being promoted to associate coach two years ago. The Capitals’ coaching search will start with him, and it may not go any further. MacLellan may not even interview other candidates if the discussions with Reirden go well.
“If it goes well, he’s a likely candidate,” MacLellan said. “And if not, we can open it up and try to find another guy.”
On several occasions, MacLellan said Reirden could have “a good feel for personalities” in the locker room, and the familiarity could create a seamless transition that the organization likely wants after winning its first championship earlier this month. Although MacLellan has worked with Reirden for the past four seasons, he said the interview process is still important to “ask the right questions.”
“I mean, I don’t ask certain questions on a day-to-day basis,” MacLellan said. “I just want to clarify on what he’s thinking system-wise and how he’s going to handle certain players.”
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