- - Sunday, June 24, 2018


Ted Leonsis felt pretty good about the Washington Post naming his Monumental Sports and Entertainment Company one of the region’s best places to work.

“It means that the team here at MSE feels good about the work they are doing,” Transparent Ted wrote on his “Ted’s Take” blog.

Well, not everybody.

Former Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz certainly didn’t feel great about working there. The Stanley Cup winner quit after he sought a lucrative new contract and was rebuffed by management, told essentially to just be happy he had the opportunity to work for an organization that, according to Transparent Ted, is in the “business of happiness.”

Did you know he wrote a book about happiness?

Trotz — who was hired in five minutes by three-time Stanley Cup-winning general manager Lou Lamoriello to be the new coach of the New York Islanders and paid essentially the money the Capitals wouldn’t even discuss (five years, $20 million) — spoke about the “business” of the Washington Capitals in less than glowing terms in his conference call with reporters last week.

“When it came to the business aspect, I was willing to listen,” Trotz said. “From my standpoint, I felt that it wasn’t very sincere what we did together. I decided it was better to just move on.

Wasn’t very sincere, is, well, insincere — or phony, or dishonest or pretentious, take your pick.

The Post might have sent Trotz a questionnaire before they came to their conclusion.

Look, the Stanley Cup is the cover that will protect Transparent Ted now for decades, and he earned that. He built an organization that, after 19 seasons, did something no other Capitals team did in its 44-year history — win a Stanley Cup. It came much later than his early Alex Ovechkin-era predictions of multiple Stanley Cups, but no matter. Like Ovechkin, Transparent Ted has one, and it will go a long way to ignoring insincerity.

But it should raise alarms for Capitals fans that one of the most beloved and respected head coaches in the National Hockey League — a coach who spent 15 seasons working for one organization in Nashville before he came to Washington in 2014 — lasted just four years with this franchise and believed he had to leave after winning the organization’s only Stanley Cup.

That is not the business of happiness.

The organization seems to have the protection of a good general manager to cover them — Brian MacLellan. He deserves much of the credit for adding the pieces to this Stanley Cup championship team that his friend and predecessor, George McPhee, had built. And he appears to be making moves to keep the Capitals competitive and in good position to defend their Stanley Cup.

He traded backup goalie Philipp Grubauer, who made it clear he wanted to go where he could get more playing time, and high-priced defenseman Brooks Orpik to the Colorado Avalanche for a second-round pick — number 47 overall — in the NHL draft, also giving Washington enough salary cap space to try to resign valuable defenseman John Carlson. Colorado is planning on buying out Orpik’s contract, which would make him available, and MacLellan told reporters he is open to bringing Orpik — an important contributor to this Stanley Cup run — back to Washington for the right price.

But, in his own way, he let everyone know that he has the same handcuffs that McPhee had in his time in Washington — a transparently-tight owner — when he responded last week to reporters about what Trotz’s salary demands were.

“His (Trotz’s) representative wants to take advantage of Barry’s experience and Stanley Cup win and is trying to negotiate a deal that compensates him as one of the better coaches in the league, a top four or five coach. He’s looking for that kind of contract.”

MacLellan then added that “I don’t think all teams pay that type of money and years (for coaches). Certain teams are open to it and the rest of the league isn’t.”

He is saying that the Capitals are not one of those teams. That is why assistant coach Todd Reirden may be the head coach on the bench for Washington when they raise the Stanley Cup championship banner next fall.  

He may be the highly-regarded assistant. He may be the second-coming of Scotty Bowman. But if Barry Trotz had decided to stay in Washington and accepted the pennies on the dollar that management offered, he would still be the head coach here.

Meanwhile, speaking of Transparent Ted, I see that Wizards general manager Ernie Grunfeld popped his head up publicly last week to talk to reporters about drafting 2023 starting guard Troy Brown with the 15th pick in the NBA draft.

Did anyone ask about his contract extension? Or are the Wizards saving that announcement for their home opener — like the Capitals Stanley Cup banner raising?

Thom Loverro’s weekly “Cigars & Curveballs” is available Wednesdays on iTunes, Google Play and the reVolver podcast network.

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