Caps banking on continuity in Reirden pick

Brian Tinsman
July 03, 2018 - 6:48 pm

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Inevitability has been a fickle thing during the Washington Capitals' condensed offseason. It was a given that the team would move mountains to retain John Carlson, and that was one of the team's first moves.

It was all but a formality that the Caps would meet head coach Barry Trotz in the middle and agree to a contract extension. Instead, Trotz resigned and headed to New York.

In discussing the decision to let Trotz go, general manager Brian MacLellan cited the presence of in-house options, specifically mentioning Todd Reirden. Indeed, Reirden was the team's first interview and first choice, which ultimately made him the team's only interview.

Where most pro sports front offices will avoid sacrificing leverage in negotiations, MacLellan had no interest in hiding the team's plans.

"We've spent the last four years developing a head coach and he's gotten to a point where he's ready to be that guy," MacLellan said of Reirden on 106.7 The Fan's Grant and Danny. "Maybe it was just a matter of whether he was going to do it with us or do it with another team in the league. Fortunately or unfortunately, the way that things panned out, Todd became our head coach this year."

This was a conscientious effort several years in the making, as the team has stacked its coaching staffs and developmental league staffs with coaching prospects, creating a pipeline to the NHL club.

"We've tried to set up Hershey and our NHL team where we're developing assistant coaches and possible head coaches," MacLellan explained. "The timing, I think, doesn't always work out for you as an organization, but still, you should be hiring guys who have the potential to move up.

"We have a couple of guys at Hershey that we think could become assistant coaches in the NHL. With Todd, all along, we had him pegged as somebody who's going to become a head coach at some time. We were challenging him to be an associate coach, giving him more responsibility and he worked out. He grasped that stuff and earned more responsibility. It became evident that he could handle it internally."

Don't worry if you don't know anything about Reirden. The people who matter know who he is, and the feeling in Washington was that if not here, where would he end up as a bench boss?

"People don't know a lot about him but players know a lot about him. I think the players have a lot of respect for the way he goes about his business, how he teaches the power play, how he teaches defensemen," MacLellan said. "Maybe the fan, or the average fan, is unaware about a lot of that stuff, but he's had a big impact on where we are as an organization, where we are as a team, and how we've improved defensively over the last four years."

Without prompting, MacLellan discussed the advice he's already bestowed on his rookie coach.

"Any encouragement that I've given Todd is to be yourself," he said. "Continue to be yourself and do it your way. Don't try to mimic someone else who has had success doing it, stay within your own personality. It's just like, 'play your own game.' I have confidence that he'll do that."


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