Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal,
Former Nashville coach Barry Trotz might want to call Scotty Bowman and ask how the greatest coach of them all, can change the spots on a scoring leopard.
In the early 90s, Bowman went about convincing his Detroit captain Steve Yzerman to park his run of 100-point seasons to become what we used to call a “two-way player” and now we refer to as playing “a 200-foot game.” Stevie Y had been around for about 10 years, had one 155-point season, but for all his points, he hadn’t won any team prize...
Trotz has the same task with Alex Ovechkin in Washington. Everybody knows he’s the elephant in the room there. Two Hart trophies, four 50-goal seasons, one of 65. No Cups, nary a playoff game past the second round since he was drafted first in 2004. Ovie isn’t selfish. He’s stubborn. He longs to carry the Cup around the ice just like his Russian countrymen Evgeni Malkin in Pittsburgh and Pavel Datsyuk in Detroit.
But he’ll need a coach to tell him how, without neutering him.
Trotz, who agreed that Ovechkin gets too much credit when the Caps win and too much blame when they lose.
“Like a coach,” joked Trotz, speaking on his cell while riding in a cab to the airport in Washington Friday.
It’s finding the balance with Ovechkin. He knows the talented ones often “want to do it my way.”
from Adam Proteau of The Hockey News,
Of course, should Ovechkin decide to change leagues, he’d need to be extremely careful lest he come off looking like an even bigger villain than Ilya Kovalchuk did when he abruptly abandoned the New Jersey Devils last summer. There would be a sizeable contingent of mortified Washington fans no matter what Ovechkin said to explain himself, but life is all about framing and this situation would be no different.
Here’s how he should frame it: by pointing to other teams that have parted ways with their franchise player and discovered the devil they knew wasn’t always better than the one they didn’t. Take the Blue Jackets, for example. There was no shortage of angst-ridden Columbus fans when management traded their franchise cornerstone, Rick Nash, to the Rangers in the summer of 2012. That transaction benefitted the Jackets as much as it did Nash (who no longer had the full weight of an organization sitting on his shoulders). It was a classic short-term-pain-for-long-term-gain scenario.
Ovechkin leaving for the KHL would free up some $9.5 million in salary cap space for the seven years remaining on his contract. As we should know by now, that space would allow Caps management to acquire two or three high-quality talents and add balance to a roster that desperately needs it. Ovechkin could paint himself as making a sacrifice for the long-term good of the franchise.
There is some question whether the NHL would provide cap relief to the Capitals if Ovechkin returned to Russia, but the league would have an extremely tough time justifying a rejection of cap relief for one team after providing it to the Devils. As well, KHL president Alexander Medvedev recently gave an interview with Russian publication championat.com in which he said, “there is a legal way for any player if he decides to play in another league (to do so) without breaking the mutual (KHL/NHL) agreement to respect each other’s contracts.” Clearly, it’s technically possible.
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
You certainly get the sense that this may be the point at which the Penguins and Capitals aren’t really linked any more, or at least not as much. They’re as different as they are alike.
Players like Steven Stamkos, Henrik Lundqvist, Jonathan Toews, Ryan Getzlaf and Anze Kopitar have caught up to Nos. 87 and 8 when it comes to the best and brightest of NHL stars.
Beyond that, nobody sees Pittsburgh and Washington as teams with limitless futures any more.
The golden talents of Crosby and Ovechkin allowed these two clubs to exist above the muck for years. Now they’re in it with most everybody else.
ARLINGTON, Va. – Washington Capitals majority owner Ted Leonsis and president Dick Patrick will introduce senior vice president and general manager Brian MacLellan and head coach Barry Trotz to the media on Tuesday, May 27, at 12:30 p.m. ET at Verizon Center.
ARLINGTON, Va. – The Washington Capitals have promoted Brian MacLellan to senior vice president and general manager and named Barry Trotz as the team’s coach, majority owner Ted Leonsis and president Dick Patrick announced today.
In case you haven not been following Twitter, numerous reports state Barry Trotz is getting close as the new head coach of the Washington Capitals.
Pierre LeBrun of ESPN recently reported...
Despite repeated reports linking Wayne Gretzky to Washington, it doesn’t sound as though The Great One and the Capitals are a match at this point. Whether it’s for president of hockey operations or another high-end executive job, at this hour, it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen. Which is too bad, because No. 99 in that kind of role would be a great asset.
But John Feinstein of The Washington Post wants Gretzky in Washington,
The Capitals will be entering their 40th season in the fall. They have never won a Stanley Cup. They can go out and hire a standard-issue general manager and allow him to hire one of the very good coaches currently available. Come September everyone will talk about new beginnings and fresh approaches, and none of it will guarantee the team will be any better than the talented ones that fell short in the playoffs from 2008 to 2013.
But maybe instead Leonsis should think about what Gretzky — again, if he wants to work — can mean to a hockey franchise. Do you think there’s a bright young hockey executive or coach out there who wouldn’t want to work for Gretzky?
Maybe Gretzky would hire Mark Messier as coach. Do you think that would bring some fire to the locker room? Do you think Alex Ovechkin would ignore his back-checking responsibilities with Gretzky in the press box and Messier in the locker room?
There’s also the free agent issue. One of the sillier reasons George McPhee was fired as GM was the bleating of player agents who weren’t allowed in the locker room right after games. How many would voice such complaints to Gretzky’s face?
Do you think free agents will want to play for Gretzky? Do you think the Caps wouldn’t become one of the talked-about franchises in hockey the day Gretzky takes over?
added 4:24pm, View a gif of the injury below...
added 4:33pm, below, video added...
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
... the larger, unanswered question is whether the Caps will stick with a traditional NHL front-office model – McPhee was vice-president and GM for the past 17 years – or switch gears like the Vancouver Canucks and the Toronto Maple Leafs and hire someone as the head of hockey operations to select the new general manager and coach.
If they go that way, there really aren’t a lot of people with superstar ties to the Caps organization, who could theoretically be their Trevor Linden or Joe Sakic - or even Ron Francis, who will be elevated to the Carolina Hurricanes general manager’s job later this week.
You can't imagine Peter Bondra or Olaf Kolzig stepping into that role because realistically, the most identifiable Caps player in history still plays for them today – Alex Ovechkin, the four-time winner of the Rocket Richard trophy as the NHL’s goal-scoring leader.
Some would argue Ovechkin is running the show already, from that dot on the left-wing offensive zone face-off circle where he scores most of his goals, mostly on the power play, but clearly he’s not ready to join the suit-and-tie brigade just yet.
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About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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