Trotz's reported $25 million asking price too high for Caps' comfort

Chris Russell
June 18, 2018 - 8:48 pm
Barry Trotz

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

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Barry Trotz won a Stanley Cup less than two weeks ago. If he or the Washington Capitals are to do it again, it will not be together.

After four years in Washington, Trotz resigned as head coach of the Capitals on Monday. Despite being hopeful of getting a deal done last week, Trotz's reported asking price, $25 million over five years, was too rich for the Caps' comfort zone. On Monday evening, Capitals General Manager Brian MacLellan provided a few more details.

"Barry had a contract clause that stated if he won a Stanley Cup, his contract would be extended two years at an increased rate," MacLellan said.

Trotz and MacLellan last week did not acknowledge the existence of such a clause, despite many opportunities to do so. The contract would reportedly pay Trotz a base salary of around $1.8 million per year over the next two years, and presumably would be worth more in bonuses and incentives. MacLellan would not discuss financial parameters.

"We had several discussions on what they were looking for and about the existing contract and we weren't able to come to an agreement," MacLellan said.

MacLellan did admit the Caps were not comfortable going with the five-year deal Trotz and his agent were seeking, which would bring Trotz's tenure to nine years if he fulfilled the terms of the deal.

MacLellan was not exactly comfortable when asked whether or not Trotz deserved the long-term security and money.

"I'm not saying he doesn't," MacLellan said. "He does, probably, in some people's minds. I don't think all teams pay that type of money and years. Certain teams are open to it, and the rest of the league isn't."

Translation: Hell-to-the-no. The Caps, even with a Stanley Cup, weren't ever going there. Not with Trotz. Not with anybody. Why? Because they're not desperate. Also, because many believe they never completely believed Trotz was irreplaceable.

Even Monday, MacLellan said, "He's a good guy. He's done a great job here. Came in, changed the culture. There's not a negative thing I can say." Which all sounds great, but if Trotz was viewed as the difference-maker, he wouldn't have been allowed to walk out the door.

Think about that: It's possible that Barry Trotz could be coaching a division rival – the New York Islanders – next year. The Caps could have pushed for some sort of compensation because he was under contract, and they just let him walk. Very little resistance. Very little effort to try and get him to stay. 

One of those reasons is clearly their top choice to replace him: Associate Coach Todd Reirden.

"We need to take a breather here, but I think Todd's a good candidate for it," the GM said. "I'd like to sit down with Todd and have a normal head coaching interview."

MacLellan doesn't have a hard timeline in place, but made clear he's looking for "someone that's progressive and looking to try different things," while admitting Reirden is familiar with the Caps' system and personnel.

It appears clear that Reirden will get the first crack, and only if something goes terribly wrong will the Caps move on.

That was likely a sticking point for Trotz as well. He wasn't about to take a short-term contract (what the Caps wanted), less guaranteed money and have his successor remain in-house. 

Last year was a difficult situation for Trotz and everyone knew it. He had no leverage. Now he has the hockey world by the you-know-what and he knows it. He wasn't playing that game again,and walked away knowing, while some will be disappointed, his name is etched forever in Capitals and Stanley Cup lore.

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