Calling it “an important day for the organization,” Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis introduced new general manager Brian MacLellan and new coach Barry Trotz during a press conference at Verizon Center on Tuesday afternoon.
Flanked by president Dick Patrick, and with players Brooks Laich, Braden Holtby, John Carlson and Jason Chimera in attendance, Leonsis said MacLellan and Trotz had “exactly the right blend of experience” and “the right kind of chemistry and in-sync outlook” he and Patrick were looking for.
They will replace former general manager George McPhee, whose contract was not renewed after 14 seasons with the organization, and former coach Adam Oates, who lasted just two seasons.
“Dick and I found ourselves coming back to finding a coach and a general manager that could team and lead us to rapid, fast-paced improvement and getting us back to a team that could get us back into the mix for a Stanley Cup,” Leonsis said.
Leonsis, who began with an opening statement that lasted nearly 20 minutes, acknowledged that he originally said the franchise needed fresh leadership following McPhee’s and Oates’ ouster. He said Tuesday that he was impressed by MacLellan’s interview and resume, especially regards to his scouting experience.
Trotz, Leonsis said, was the only coach the Capitals reached out to, and he and Patrick placed a high value on Trotz’s 15 years of experience as a head coach.
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“We have to build a new identity as a franchise and a team, and I want to stress that both these individuals talked to us at length, individually, about team and the importance of collaborating between all parts of the organization — about the kind of team that we want to build,” Leonsis said. “Everybody says they want to be tough to play against, but we feel that we need to build an identity again, and we feel we lost that over the last couple of years.”
Trotz, 51, who was hired as the Nashville Predators’ first coach in 1998, was fired last month after the Predators missed the playoffs for the second consecutive season. He will be the Capitals’ fourth coach in the last 31 months.
MacLellan, 55, has been the Capitals’ assistant general manager for the last seven seasons and has been with the organization since 2000. He served as the interim general manager since April 26, when the Capitals announced McPhee would not return.
Acknowledging that he never knew MacLellan outside of a cursory handshake at team events, Leonsis said he was impressed that MacLellan began his interview by pointing out what Leonsis needed to improve upon as an owner.
“I didn’t think I had anything to lose,” MacLellan joked. “I think the team feels that when there’s a disconnect, or there’s not a unified philosophy from owner to general manager to coach — all three of us have to have a team approach going forward, and everything that we communicate or live by will come from team.”
Trotz, who began his career in the professional ranks as a part-time scout with the Capitals in the late-1980s, said it was important to him to find an organization that made him feel comfortable.
“I got really excited about having that opportunity to come back to Washington working with people, not for people,” Trotz said. “I was looking for someone that had those same high standards of qualities, high standard of communication. When I met with these guys, I was pretty much sold.”
• Zac Boyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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