The Washington Capitals are closing in on hiring Barry Trotz as their next coach, according to multiple reports Saturday night.
Gary Lawless of the Winnipeg Free Press was the first to report that Trotz and the Capitals were nearing an agreement. ESPN's Pierre LeBrun and CBC's Elliotte Friedman both reported that negotiations are progressing.
Friedman added that Trotz, who was reportedly in Washington on Tuesday to interview with team owner Ted Leonsis and president Dick Patrick, has informed other NHL clubs that he is no longer available as a candidate.
Trotz coached the Nashville Predators from their inception in 1998, making him the longest tenured of any coach from the start of an NHL franchise. He was fired on April 14 after Nashville missed the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the first time in over 10 years.
The idea of Trotz coaching Washington is intriguing. His experience would be a departure from what the current Capitals are used to considering that the team's past five coaches have all been first-timers at the NHL level. It would also be a transition for Trotz, who would join an organization with plenty of offensive firepower that spends to the salary cap after spending so much time coaching a budget-conscious team built around defensive talent.
Trotz also began his professional coaching career in the Capitals organization with the Baltimore Skipjacks of the American Hockey League in 1990.
The 51-year-old has indicated that he would prefer to have a general manager in place before joining a new team. Two potential candidates, Predators assistant general manager Paul Fenton and former Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Ray Shero, both have relationships with Trotz from their respective tenures in Nashville.
The Capitals, however, do not have a general manager (or have not announced that they have one) as they still search for George McPhee's replacement. Patrick said in April that while the Capitals would prefer to hire a general manager who would then assist in hiring a new coach, they would alter that approach if the right coaching candidate was available.
“We’ve done it both ways here," Patrick said. "When George was hired we’d hired Ron Wilson as a coach prior to that because he was available and he was a hot commodity. We’d identified him as a coach we wanted and didn’t want to lose him because we weren’t ready at that point to make the decision on a general manager. Typically or generally speaking we prefer to have the general manager in place and his involvement with selecting the coach but it could happen otherwise.”
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