- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 17, 2019

ARLINGTON — A quick, unscientific survey of Washington Capitals fans at the team’s practice Thursday morning found no ill will between the fan base and the former coach who delivered the first Stanley Cup in franchise history.

Rowland Thurlow, who has been a Capitals fan since 1982, believes the Capital One Arena crowd will cheer Barry Trotz when his New York Islanders visit Washington for the first time this season.

“I think he did wonderful things for the Washington Caps,” Thurlow said. “He got back to where he wanted to be and take his team, he got there and now he’s turned it over to somebody else to do the same thing. And maybe he’ll help (the Islanders) get up to there, but he did a great job here.”

Capitals fan Tim Little added that he thinks Trotz is a “classy” guy and ought to be cheered. Little is monitoring ticket availability for Friday’s game, which is sure to be one of the bigger regular season matchups at Capital One this year.

The Capitals first played against Trotz’s Islanders on Nov. 26 in New York, and the team brought Trotz and former Washington assistants Mitch Korn and Lane Lambert into the visitors’ locker room before the game to present them their Stanley Cup rings. This time, the Capitals will honor Trotz’s return to the District with a video tribute during the game.

That aside, the complicated emotions and logistics of that first reunion are out of the way. Capitals players are approaching Friday’s game as just that — one out of 82, one that they need to win to snap a three-game losing streak.

“We see every game as a normal game and try to get ready as a normal game, whether there’s a former coach or it’s a playoff game,” Nicklas Backstrom said. “But obviously we all know what Barry’s done for us here as players and for us as a city, and it’s pretty special. So I’m sure he will be well-received here tomorrow, and he should be. He deserves it.”

Tom Wilson expects it to be “a pretty emotional night” for Trotz.

“He was here for a long time, ups and downs, he was part of the community and I think he’s well respected by the community of D.C., so it will be a great moment for him and his family,” Wilson said. “He put in a lot of time and worked extremely hard to get this team to accomplish what we did last year.”

“So it will be good to see him again — and to take him down,” he added.

Trotz was conspicuously absent from the video the Capitals played at their banner-hanging ceremony Oct. 3 before the regular season opener.

Friday’s video tribute will happen sometime in the first or second period. It can’t be played before puck drop because the Capitals will also have a ceremony in honor of Brooks Orpik reaching 1,000 career NHL games.

Current Capitals coach Todd Reirden said he wants to watch the video before the game so he can focus on in-game adjustments when it plays in the arena.

Still, Reirden said, “It’ll be tough not to watch, and I know our players have a lot of respect for him and obviously we won a championship with Barry as our coach. There’ll be a very well-deserved tribute and then we can move forward on the plan.”

• Adam Zielonka can be reached at azielonka@washingtontimes.com.

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