Reirden rips Brind'Amour for breaking unwritten rule of coaching

Chris Lingebach
October 04, 2019 - 8:22 pm

When Carolina coach Rod Brind'Amour chirped at Tom Wilson from the Canes' bench during Sunday's preseason finale, Capitals coach Todd Reirden waited until the end of the period to respond.

As it should be, Reirden told The Sports Junkies during his bi-weekly appearance Thursday, presented by Sheehy Auto Stores.

"To me it's a very unprofessional quality of a coach," Reirden said of Brind'Amour taking issue with his player directly. "And it's an unwritten rule in the coaching world, is that once you no longer can play hockey and you have to wear a suit behind the bench, now, if you have a problem on the other team, you have a problem with something that they're doing, then you talk to their coach if you have a problem with it."

"You don't talk to their players, because you can't go out and do anything about it," he said. "You're not allowed to go out on the ice any more and answer for any questions or comments that you want to make. So to me, it makes 100 percent sense. I think it's extremely unprofessional."

Brind'Amour, 49, hasn't been an NHL player since 2010, and soon after began his coaching career. So if there is an unwritten rule he's breaking, he's certainly aware of it.

"He did it last year in the playoffs as well, so it was something I was, to be honest with you, ready for," Reirden said. "And when it happened, I didn't let it go. One thing that was not on video is me, after the period, going towards their bench to talk to their coaches. And as soon as that period was over, I went across the red line and had some choice words for their coach, not for their players."

Reirden was asked if he likes Brind'Amour personally.

"I don't know Rod Brind'Amour very much," he said. "I love the player, how he played the game, how professional he is as a hockey player. I think that a lot of former players that have played the game, they sometimes forget that they no longer are a hockey player, and that's off limits."

Asked what he said when confronting the Carolina staff, Reirden said he had to have a "heated exchange" with an assistant coach, because Brind'Amour had already high-tailed it off the ice.

"I had to go through his assistant coach, because he was running off the ice," he said. "But I'm like, 'Make sure you send him this message.' That was a heated exchange, but again, I'm backing my players. I will always back my players, and that's the best thing I can do, is I can do it that way and I can talk about it in the media and just answer it honestly. That's always been my belief."

"So did the assistant then just tell you to F-off, basically?" Reirden was asked.

"Yeah. We had a pretty heated exchange. It was fun," he said. "A lot of people don't really know that side of me very much, but it's like, at times, I think it's important to have composure during the game. I certainly know when cameras are on me, and not on me, when I do things. So it's important to give across that message.

"I was not happy with that, so I dealt with it in the only way that I could, which was address their bench. Again, it's over. It's part of the game, it's passionate, but it shouldn't be a part of the game. And I hope you guys agree, because it's not fair. It's not fair and it's something that, for me, no matter what happens, I won't do it. I never have, never will."

Whatever ill-will lingers between the clubs – and by Sunday's exchange, it's clear there's still plenty – it will soon be addressed, as the Caps and Canes meet again on Saturday at Capital One Arena.

"That's something that will add to our home-opener against them," Reirden said. "Which is gonna be a difficult one to begin with on Saturday, because obviously we play (Friday) against the Islanders in Long Island. That's where we're at right now. And then we have to travel in to play a team that's waiting there to play us, in Carolina. So these first three games, they're not easy, that's for sure."

Washington looks to be more of a skating team in 2019-20, something Reirden wanted to bring to the Caps in his first year coaching them, but had to come to grips with the fact that they would have neither the time, nor the energy, to implement those changes coming off a shortened summer due to their 2018 Stanley Cup championship run.

"I just felt like with a short summer, I can tell you that our training, we came in and everyone was up to standard, of what the goals were that we set based upon a shortened summer," Reirden said. "So I send them letters in the summer and make sure that they have to be at the certain standards for themselves individually that they have to reach.

"But I was able to put them at a different level this year, and I let them know it's gonna be because we were gonna really focus on playing a more skating game, and you can't do that if you're not in the condition we're in. And some of it is the fact that, unfortunately, we lose out early last year, so now they have more time to train. So they were able to be prepared for this."

"And it was something, again, that you have to coach the team that's in front of you and not just something that necessarily you specifically love this system, or this style," he said. "You gotta know what best suits your personnel and your group, and gives them a chance to have success. We saw some examples of it (against St. Louis Wednesday)."

"It's not perfect yet," he said. "But that's when you'll know we're playing well, is when we're forcing turnovers and we're not allowing the opposition to spend as much time in the defensive zone as they did last year."

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