One of the many intriguing storylines, as we head in the Stanley Cup finals, is the future of Washington Capitals head coach Barry Trotz. In the final year of a four-year contract, Trotz has finally reached his finals Finals. But how does his contract situation play into things?
Trouble At The Top
As recently as March the Capitals resigned GM Brian MacLellan to a contract extension. Hired at the same time as Barry Trotz and with a four-year contract as well, the timing seemed odd. Trotz was not given an extension at the same time. MacLellan said last summer that he “needed to see improvements throughout our organization” before discussing an extension for the coach.
While signing the GM first may be good practice, and good business sense, the Capitals have now created a tenuous situation. One of the prize assets its showing his worth at a time when he could just walk out the door. With the Capitals losing players last summer because of salary cap restraints, and an expansion draft, the coach has shown his worth with arguably the worst roster he has had in seasons. Barry Trotz is in the middle of his best season ever.
However, leaving your coach on the hot-seat felt like a very strange decision. As Barry Trotz took his third straight Metropolitan crown with his weakest roster it seemed strange. When he dinally got over the Penguins hoodoo it seemed strange. And now, as the Caps enter their first finals after 20 years, after coming from 3-2 down in the Conference Finals, it just seems strange.
Capitals On The Brink
There is no doubt that the contract situation will not weigh too heavily on the minds of the players, or the coaching staff. They want to win, badly. Perhaps even more so because this may be the end of an era. Barry Trotz has led the Capitals to their third straight Metropolitan Division title, and now their first finals for 20 years.
The Capitals path this season hasn’t been as smooth as in previous years. The team has pulled together as maybe never before. And at the top of that group is Barry Trotz. After a summer that tried him as a man, his role as coach seems to sit more comfortably on his head these days. He seems more able to inspire his players, more able to reach them in ways he couldn’t before.
“I had some friends pass away, and I had a number of things that sort of shed some light on life in general and how I look at it and what’s important to me and what’s really important in life. What I’ve done in the league and where I am, I’m good with It.
Pay The Man
One thing is for sure, with each passing day Barry Trotz looks more and more underpaid. Whether the contract situation has created any feelings of animosity remains to be seen. But you can count on one thing this offseason, Barry Trotz will get paid. It may be by the Capitals or perhaps another team that recognizes the stellar job he has done.
At a time when coaches salaries are booming, Trotz current deal pays him just $1.5m per season. The total value of his contract was just $6m. That’s less than Mike Babcock is earning per season as the Leafs coach.
Barry Trotz may well remain in Washington. He has formed bonds with his players that he may see as more valuable than cashing in. His relationship with the Great 8, seems to grow closer by the game. But there’s always the chance, at a time when he is valuing family and commitment more than ever, that not being offered an extension may drive him away.
He would be a very hard man to replace, and his legacy would never be erased. He has instilled a culture of winning, and that should not be taken lightly.