WASHINGTON (CBSDC) — Washington Capitals head coach Barry Trotz went into great detail about how he plans to address his new team’s defensive woes, and how it will affect the Caps normally offensive-dominated identity, in an interview with the Sports Junkies Wednesday morning.
“I don’t want to take away their identity, the ability to be a real good offensive team,” Trotz assured the Junkies. “I still think that they need to have that; that’s really the strength of the team, is the ability to create some offense. What I’d like to add to that, is a very consistent two-way factor, defensively maybe even add a little more of that grit, and I’ll say puck-possession type of game down low where we can win games off the rush, on the power play, and if we have to win a 1-0 game, that won’t be out of our wheelhouse, if you will.”
“I want to be a well-rounded team,” he continued. “I think we can help on the back end, in terms of the defensive game. My philosophy is, when you have the puck, I want you to score, I want you to attack, and if you don’t, I want you to attack and get it back, and quickly, so that you can go back on the offense.
“Defense isn’t about backing up, defense is about getting the puck and not allowing the opposition time and space, and so I think we can do that with the ability here. So it might be a little bit of a change for them, but at the same time, if we can get the balance in the attack and the balance in the defensive game – I really believe you have to be a top ten team offensively, and at least a top ten team defensively if you’re wanting to challenge for any kind of a championship in this league.”
Trotz had an interesting perspective on the relationship between ownership, general manager and head coach, as it pertains to surviving adversity, when asked how he was able to survive for 15 seasons in Nashville (since the franchise’s inception in 1998), a remarkable stretch (considering the NHL’s heavy turnover) which is in fact a record for the most games coached by the first head coach of an NHL expansion team.
“Well, I think you have to work with good people,” Trotz said. “I was very fortunate to work for David Poile, who was with the Caps (1982-1997) previously, and we had a good relationship. And you’re gonna go through, as a team, will go through some adversity.
“You’re gonna have a time when you’re gonna struggle as a group, and what he did – I think he was a guy that didn’t panic – he said, ‘You know what; the solution is in the room. Let’s get the solution,’ and when you come out on the other side, you become a better team, you have a better coach, better players, just because you have to fight through adversity, I think.
One portion of his response could be directly applied to the Capitals organization, if one felt compelled to connect those dots, a team which has burned through four head coaches since the Alex Ovechkin era officially began in the 2005-06 NHL season.
“Too many times in sports, now, when a team hits a little bit of adversity, the first thing is to say fire the coach, or fire the GM or fire that, and what happens is, the players get off the hook,” Trotz said. “Oh, it’s their fault. And really the solution, I have not score a goal in the National Hockey [League], I have not made a save in the National Hockey League as a coach, and sometimes I think you enable the players with that quick decision sometimes, to actually not become resilient and not become a better team or better players by putting blame on the coach or GM sometimes.
“Sometimes the group has to work through that to be a stronger team and have some adversity so that they can handle it as a group, and not have a limp backbone, if you would. I think it really develops character; it develops a backbone if you have to fight through adversity, so David allowed us to do that and we became a better team.”