5 reasons Todd Reirden will succeed in succeeding Barry Trotz

Chris Russell
July 11, 2018 - 5:07 pm
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Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

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It's not often you get your first crack at being a head coach by taking over a great team, never mind a world championship team.

That's exactly what Todd Reirden gets to do in replacing Barry Trotz as head coach of the Stanley Cup Champion, Washington Capitals.

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That lofty perch comes with expectations. Should the Capitals be expected to go back-to-back? No.

However, Reirden and the Caps have to not only make the playoffs, but a reasonable expectation of success in his first year is to make it back to the conference final. Will they? Only time will tell.

Here are five reasons why Reirden will be successful in his first year at the helm of the champs.

1 – Familiarity: Reirden takes over a team that will have, as of now, one new addition to the core, Nic Dowd in center, replacing Jay Beagle. Reirden knows the players and the foundation the champs are built upon. "The chances that I've had to have four years to develop working relationships with the majority of the people (in the organization) is going to make the situation much easier," he told reporters last week.

2 – Not just a defensive coach: Reirden was largely credited with working with Caps defensemen over the last four years, although that's not the only task he had. "Working with the power play and now I'm dealing with Ovi, Backstrom and Kuznetsov," Reirden said. In other words, he's not just the NFL equivalent of a defensive coordinator becoming a head coach, who had only worked on one side of the ball.

Reirden has led the Caps in many different areas and groups like "being able to work on 5-on-6 situations at the end of the game where the other team pulls their goalie, so I'm dealing with Tom Wilson, Lars Eller and Brooks Orpik and those situations, guys that helped us defend a lead.  Right there I’m able to cover the gamut of the people that are in our room and establish relationships with them on a number of different levels, so I really feel I’m prepared,” Reirden told reporters.

3 – Same Style/System: Caps GM Brian MacLellan doesn't expect much to change systematically going from Trotz to Reirden, another huge reason why this can and will work. There will be no overhaul. MacLellan believes the penalty kill could even become more aggressive and tighter, but with Reirden's previous work on the power-play, it's expected to stay the same. As will their 5-on-5 attack, because as Reirden says, a system is "very roster specific." To that end,  the Caps haven't had massive losses despite some expected attrition.

4 – Speed and Skill: The Caps still have plenty of what made them special on their way to winning the Cup. Barring massive injuries, that should still translate over to 2018-19. "We were set up to play the game a certain way, that accentuated some of the speed that we added to our team with our young players," Reirden said. "It allowed our skill players to be able to have space and make plays and create opportunities, and we were one of the bigger teams and we were able to physically impose a difficult game on the opponent."

5 – Experience: Reirden doesn't have NHL head coaching experience, but he was the head coach in Scranton, the Penguins' top affiliate, before joining the Pittsburgh staff under Dan Bylsma.

Barry Trotz allowed Reirden, Lane Lambert (joining Trotz with the Islanders) and Blaine Forsyth an opportunity to be more than just standard assistants, which prepared each for elevated roles. "It was our whole staff," Reirden said. "Barry allowed that. We all had input on how our team was going to play."

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