Capitals head coach Barry Trotz soaking in Cup experience after long road

LAS VEGAS — Barry Trotz waited a long time — 26 years behind professional hockey benches, to be exact — before getting his first crack at competing for a Stanley Cup.

The head coach of the Washington Capitals is soaking up every second of the experience, mostly with a smile on his face.

“This is a time to enjoy,” Trotz said this week. ”I don’t know (if) you’re ever going to get to this moment again.

“Why make it tense?”

Trotz and the Capitals led the Vegas Golden Knights 3-1 in the best-of-seven final heading into Thursday’s Game 5 — just one win from hoisting the Cup for the first time in both his career and the franchise’s 43-year history.

“Some of my best friends, they haven’t had this moment,” the native of Dauphin, Man., continued. ”They’re still waiting for it. Some of them have had it and have won Cups. They all have different stories. Mine is, ‘I’m going to enjoy this process.’

“Because you know, it’s taken a long time to get here.”

It most certainly has.

Trotz’s path to this final that could culminate just off the sweltering Las Vegas strip started in junior hockey and continued in the AHL with the Baltimore Skipjacks and the Portland Pirates, where he won a Calder Cup in 1994.

After a seven-year-stint in the minors, he was eventually hired in 1998 to be the first head coach of the Nashville Predators, where spent 15 seasons but was never able to get out of the second round of the playoffs.

Let go by Nashville in April 2014, Trotz wasn’t out of work long, catching on with the Capitals just over a month later. Washington won the Presidents’ Trophy in both 2015-16 and 2016-17, but lost out to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round both times.

Expectations were much lower to start this season after Washington waved goodbye to a number of veterans.

But the Capitals, who still managed to grab 105 points to top the Metropolitan Division, came back from an 0-2 hole in the first round of the playoffs to beat the Columbus Blue Jackets, finally got past Pittsburgh, and then downed the Tampa Bay Lightning for the club’s first appearance in a final since 1998.

Through it all, Trotz didn’t have a contract for next fall — and still doesn’t.

“Maybe that’s why he’s so relaxed,” Capitals centre Nicklas Backstrom surmised. ”He doesn’t know what’s going to happen, and I don’t think anyone knows.

“He’s just enjoying this like everyone else in here and trying to take advantage of the situation that we’re very fortunate to be in.”

Trotz, however, conceded his perspective and outlook have changed in the last 12 months.

“(I went) through a few things last summer that gave me some really good clarity on how I define myself or how I define people,” Trotz said. ”It’s just given me real clarity.”

With his team so close to touching the Cup, it’s also clear that while Trotz is making sure he takes in the experience, the ultimate goal remains in sharp focus.

“You have to respect the process, but enjoy it. Enjoy the process of competing against the best teams night in, night out. Going against the best coaches. Living the moment,” Trotz said. ”Once you get here, you might as well enjoy it.

“You won’t see me gambling, you won’t see me at any shows or anything, but I’m going to enjoy the process of all this.”

Just Posted

Updated: Red Deer welcomes 2019 Canada Winter Games Team Alberta

About 250 Alberta athletes are participating in the Games

Syrian immigrants feel welcomed

Winter Social held at Festival Hall to promote multiculturalism

Small group rallies with pro-immigration message

Group wanted to counter misinformation on United Nations migration agreement

Trump says ‘things are going very well’ with North Korea

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Saturday that “things are going very… Continue reading

NDP won’t stop until Trans Mountain is built, says minister

Deron Bilous speaks at Red Deer chamber luncheon

VIDEO: Students in MAGA hats mock Native American at Indigenous Peoples March

Diocese in Kentucky says it is investigating the matter, caught on video by onlookers

CONSUMER REPORT: What to buy each month in 2019 to save money

Resolve to buy all of the things you want and need, but pay less money for them

Anxiety in Alaska as endless aftershocks rattle residents

Seismologists expect the temblors to continue for months, although the frequency has lessened

Women’s March returns across the U.S. amid shutdown and controversy

The original march in 2017, the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, drew hundreds of thousands of people

Kriechmayr edges Swiss favourite Feuz to win WCup downhill

WENGEN, Switzerland — It takes a special run to beat Switzerland’s best… Continue reading

WestJet plane heading to Victoria slides off Edmonton runway, no injuries

EDMONTON — A WestJet plane has slid off an icy taxiway at… Continue reading

Sam Bennett scores twice, Flames beat Red Wings 6-4

Flames 6, Red Wings 4 CALGARY — Sam Bennett scored twice including… Continue reading

Rare ‘super blood wolf moon’ takes to the skies this Sunday

Celestial event happens only three times this century

Most Read