- - Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Barry Trotz held court with the media in the hallway of the event floor at Capital One Arena, not far from the banner he has hanging from the rafters of the building — you know, the one that says Stanley Cup Champions 2018.

Yes, it’s his banner. He just lets the Caps keep it to remind them that they let go of the only coach who managed to get one of those for this franchise.

He was feeling pretty good after his New York Islanders blasted his former team, 5-3, Monday and, by the way, smashed the big cake the Capitals had baked to celebrate Alex Ovechkin’s 700th career goal.

“He’s going to get 700,” Trotz said. “It wouldn’t have bothered me if he got to 700 as long as we won the hockey game.”

And there you go. Barry Trotz is very familiar with the Milestone Caps. He lived it for four seasons. He was here when Ovechkin was presented with two framed jerseys in 2015 — numbers 473 and 826 — the numbers representing the new franchise record for career goals and the other noting his overtaking Peter Bondra’s career points total mark.



The Capitals lost in seven games to the New York Rangers in the second round of the playoffs that year.

Trotz was here when Ovechkin got his 500th career goal the next season. “It was a moment that was great for the team to share,” Trotz told reporters. “I think we all shared that moment.”

They were knocked out in six games by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round that year.

All the accomplishments by Ovechkin are wonderful for everyone to share. They are special moments, and when 700 comes, it will be wonderful, something sports fans in this city will be lucky to witness, either in person or from afar.

But you don’t want the success of this franchise to go back to being defined by Ovechkin’s individual accomplishments. Everyone knows the difference between those and celebrating a Stanley Cup. They’ve lived it. You don’t want to go back to being the Milestone Caps.

If Ovechkin is on the path to breaking Wayne Gretzky’s all-time goal mark of 894, there should be more Stanley Cups along the way for the Washington Capitals.

Right now, after two bad losses at home — 5-3 Monday night to the Islanders and 7-2 to the Flyers Saturday night — everyone has been reminded about how unfulfilling those Ovechkin career achievements can be when accompanied by missed opportunities, and what the prize really is.

“In the NHL you are supposed to be a professional and deal with what is around you,” Tom Wilson said. “We want Ovi to get to 700. That is going to be a great day when he does. But we have to be worried about the two points at the end of the night. That is most important, especially at this time of year we have got to be playing better hockey.”

The Capitals may be struggling now, but they have played well for much of the season — 36-15-5, with 77 points on top of the Metropolitan Division. It’s February, with plenty of time to get right for the postseason come April and the quest for another Stanley Cup.

The coach who doesn’t have a banner hanging in the rafters at Capital One Arena — Todd Reirden — spoke of the “adversity” his team is going through lately after the loss to the Islanders.

“We’re going through a tough stretch right now,” he said. “We’re losing those battles, we’re making poor decisions with the puck, making some mental mistakes and they’re ending up in our net. We’re finding ways to lose right now whereas before we were finding ways to win earlier in the year. That’s the adversity we’re going through right now and we’ve got to find a way.”

The Capitals should be well-versed in adversity. It was what defined them for years before the Stanley Cup season. No one in the Capitals locker room should need a lesson on adversity.

Who doesn’t have experience in overcoming adversity as an NHL head coach is Reirden. He is the one who has to find a way to win. He is the one who has to find a way to get the value out of Ovechkin’s personal success. He is the one who is faced with having more to show for this historic run ahead for Ovechkin than milestones.

⦁ Hear Thom Loverro on 106.7 The Fan Wednesday afternoons and Saturday mornings and on the Kevin Sheehan podcast Tuesdays and Thursdays.

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