- The Washington Times - Monday, June 25, 2018

The Washington Capitals have named Todd Reirden the franchise’s 18th head coach in place of the departed Barry Trotz.

Reirden served as an assistant coach for the Capitals from 2014 to 2016 and was promoted to associate coach ahead of the 2016-17 season. The same day Trotz resigned from the club, MacLellan called Reirden a “good candidate” for the vacancy and said he would be the first to interview for it.

Reirden interviewed with the front office earlier this week. It’s believed the team did not bring in any other candidate for an interview after that.

“We feel that the time is right for Todd to lead our hockey club,” MacLellan said in a statement Friday. “Based on his coaching experience, communication abilities, his approach to the game and the respect he commands in our locker room, we feel that Todd has earned this opportunity. Todd has played an integral part in helping lead our team to the Stanley Cup championship and we feel his appointment as head coach will enable our organization to transition seamlessly into next season and beyond.”

A former blueliner himself, much of Reirden’s role with the Capitals has been focused on the defensemen and penalty kill unit.

In previous years, Reirden, who turned 47 Monday, was linked to head coaching vacancies in Calgary and New Jersey. MacLellan revealed earlier this month that when Reirden accepted the promotion to associate coach, they agreed that he would not take interviews with other teams for one year. 

At the NHL Awards in Las Vegas last week, Alex Ovechkin told reporters that the team would be happy for Reirden to receive the promotion.

“If it’s Todd, I’m sure lots of guys, everybody, going to be really happy,” Ovechkin said. “He’s a guy who’s a very good communicator, a very good specialist and has lots of respect from us.”

Other players, like John Carlson, have agreed that playing for Reirden would mean a smooth transition into the new season.

“I think he did a great job taking everybody for being different people and seeing things different ways,” Carlson said. “I just think he seemed to connect with everyone’s different personalities. I think he makes you look at the game a little bit differently. I know that I did when he got here, just the way I approach things really helped with certain drills or thoughts to get better in certain areas.”

Reirden joined the Capitals the same day the Pittsburgh Penguins relieved him of his duties as an assistant coach in 2014. While working in that organization, Reirden held his only professional head coaching position, helming the AHL affiliate Wilkes Barre-Scranton Penguins in 2009 and 2010.

He attended Bowling Green State University in Ohio — also MacLellan’s alma mater. He first got into the coaching ranks in 2007, and those familiar with him told The Washington Times he was an “innovator” who was always committed to learning and improving himself.

In his playing days, Reirden was a defenseman for the Blues, Coyotes, Thrashers and Oilers during a 13-year professional career in which he also played in Germany and Austria.

Reirden will be the Capitals‘ sixth head coach since Ovechkin was drafted in 2004.

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