Beating Penguins in playoffs lifted heavy burden for coach Barry Trotz
Barry Trotz arrived at PPG Paints Arena on Tuesday a changed man.
Weeks after winning the Stanley Cup with the Washington Capitals last season, Trotz exercised his free-agent rights when his contract expired and joined the New York Islanders in June. That’s probably the biggest change.
But he’s also a coach from whom a suffocating burden has been lifted.
The frustration of multiple crushing playoff losses, especially the ones at the hands of the rival Pittsburgh Penguins, disappeared when the Capitals finally won the Cup.
“There’s real pressure,” Trotz said. “In Washington, there’s real pressure in that building. It’s hard to understand it until you really live it. Everybody always talks about it. Even media, you guys don’t even feel it. It’s a real thing there and we broke through it. That says a lot about the group there last year that had to endure all the pain to have some of that glory that was well worth the investment over the years.”
Here’s a look at some other topics Trotz touched on after morning skate.
— On finally getting past the Penguins hurdle in last years’ playoffs:
“When you play them 100 times like we did, you finally figure it out. The odds were going in our favor. Between me and you, every time we played, we learned something new. In this game, you continue to learn. You’ve got to have your best players be the best. You’ve got to have the detail. You’ve got to have the commitment. You’ve got to have all the things that we’re trying to implement with this group.”
— On his relationship with Penguins coach Mike Sullivan:
“I think we have a good respect for each other. The rivalry is you want your team to beat the other team. There’s no ill will or anything like that. He’s a fantastic coach. He’s won a couple of rings with this group and they play hard every night.”
— On his newfound appreciation for the Penguins repeating as Stanley Cup champions in 2017:
“When they went back to back, how much you have to invest and how deep you go into it and how late you play into the year, and then you’ve got another season of celebration for a little bit, it is hard to get re-engaged. I understand that now more than ever, obviously. I give them a lot of credit. To do back to back in this day and age is pretty remarkable. That’s obviously a pretty remarkable group over there.”
— On when he knew the Capitals were headed for something special last season:
“I think my coaching staff thought I was a little bit crazy. We scored that overtime goal in Columbus in Game 3 and I said, ‘We’re going to win the Cup this year.’ And we did. I’m not Nostradamus or anything, but you have a feeling.”
Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jonathan at email@example.com or via Twitter @BombulieTrib.