On Monday, Barry Trotz surprised the hockey world when he resigned as head coach of the Washington Capitals. His reason for stepping down basically came down to not being able reach an extension agreement with the Caps. The move left a lot of people wondering where Trotz was heading next. There’s only one coaching vacancy in the NHL, the Islanders, so naturally, many people assumed he’d end up behind the Islanders’ bench.
I was firmly on the “Trotz to the Islanders” train for a few reasons. The Islanders are a young team with a lot of talent; they have Calder Cup favorite Mathew Barzal, and there have been rumors that John Tavares wants to re-sign with the Isles. The chance to build a team around those two talents is intriguing to any coaching candidate.
Like I said, I WAS firmly on that train. But then I saw the below tweet last night, and it changed my thinking.
This tweet, which comes from Peter Hassett, co-founder of the Capitals blog “Russian Machine Never Breaks,” certainly throws a new wrinkle in Trotz’s coaching free agency.
Now before I go on, I just want to say this: The following is all hypothetical based on the above tweet; no concrete sources or confirmation. But just go with me on this, and I think you’ll be on my side at the end of it.
Seattle hasn’t been granted an expansion franchise yet. However, there are rumors that the league owners will vote this month on Seattle’s expansion bid. In May, Gary Bettman shut those rumors down by saying that they will address the expansion bid “in the fall, or early winter at the latest.” Whether the vote happens this month or in December, it’s pretty much guaranteed that Seattle is getting the 32nd NHL team. Seattle started their season ticket drive in March. In 12 minutes, they sold 10,000 season tickets. In one hour, they sold out of all 25,000 spots. Let’s be honest here; Seattle is getting an NHL team.
Every team needs a head coach, and I don’t think there’s a better fit for the eventual Seattle team than Barry Trotz. Trotz has experience with an expansion team, having been hired as the Nashville Predators’ first head coach in 1997. He spent 15 seasons with the Preds, and though they struggled early on, Trotz was responsible for turning the Preds around into legitimate playoff contenders. When the Preds hired Trotz, he had never been an NHL coach and the expansion draft rules weren’t as favorable as they are now. Trotz now has 19 NHL seasons of experience under his belt, and if the Vegas Golden Knights proved anything this year, it’s that the new expansion draft rules allow new teams to be immediately competitive.
If Trotz does become the head coach for Seattle, it wouldn’t even be official until October-December when the league grants Seattle expansion. That gives Trotz a nice 4-6 months of vacation before work starts. Even then, Seattle wouldn’t play until the 2020-2021 season, so Trotz gets almost two full NHL seasons to scout players and help build the franchise.
For Seattle, why wouldn’t they want Trotz? They would get a coach who knows what it takes to win a Stanley Cup in the modern NHL, and has expansion experience. Trotz knows how to handle building a new team, and also things to avoid when doing so.
Again, all of this is hypothetical based on one picture of Trotz in the Seattle airport. Could he just be on a layover heading somewhere else? Sure. Could he also be there to meet with Seattle’s ownership group? Absolutely. It’s a perfect fit for both sides.
I know Capitals fans were sad to see Barry Trotz leave their team. But fear not, Caps fans, because I think we’ll see Trotz behind the bench in Washington again.
Just this time, it’ll be Washington state.