Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Dan Rosen of NHL.com,
You went to Las Vegas when Alex Ovechkin was there for the NHL Awards to sit down with him, have dinner with him, get to know him. Why was it important for you at the time to sit down with Ovechkin, and what did you learn from the meeting?
"You're not going to go to battle with someone you don't know. It doesn't matter what walk of life it is, whether it's business or in war. In sports it's usually a coach and player, so he understands where I'm coming from and at the same time the player recognizes where you're coming from so you get a comfort level and you can work together better. If we're going to be successful in Washington, [Ovechkin] has to be a big part of that. It's not only him, but he's a main component, a big personality, and I have to sell my vision of the team to him because he's one of the top players. In today's sport, coaches are in a partnership with their top players.
"I think it went OK. I learned a lot from that, how he thinks and how he sees the world. I know he comes from a different culture and I learned about how he views himself, how he views his job with the team. It was good. I told him what I expected. I had a bunch of questions written down and we sort of went through them. I didn't know if there would be a language barrier so I made him read the questions and try to answer them. We had some dialogue. I learned about his family, who is important in his life.
"Every player is wired differently. Some players you know exactly where they're headed, where they're going and what they're thinking. There are other guys wired differently. It allowed me to understand the personality of Alexander Ovechkin. He's been the face of the Caps for the past eight or nine years, since he's been drafted. He gets a lot of the credit when they do well and he gets a lot of the blame when they don't, but that's the responsibility for a top guy in the National Hockey League now. If you want to be the elite guy those are the responsibilities that go with it. It was good. We spent probably four hours together, and I've talked to him a couple of times on the phone as well. I think not only coaching the player but coaching the person is very important."
read on, four more questions...
from Alex Prewitt of Capitals Insider,
... since Trotz and his staff assembled in Washington, the idea of the “Capitals Way” has entered their lexicon, another one of the intangible concepts – think “culture change” or “Brooks Orpik’s leadership” – being preached so much.
So what does this mean, exactly? What is the “Washington Capitals Way” Trotz wants to implement, or rediscover, or put back on track?
“I think it’s team-first and you’re able to count on the guy right beside you, across from you,” assistant coach Lane Lambert said. “There’s a lot of togetherness. There’s a lot of team-oriented concepts that we work on this week.”
“I think it’s going to be something we’re still formulating as a staff,” assistant coach Todd Reirden said. “I think a lot of times when you’re forming a model and words you want to use to describe your team before you go out and make those words public, I think you need to interact with the players and watch and now you can develop some of those characteristics after you’ve played, gone through some training camp games and real games. That’s when you get concrete words that define your team.”
from Alex Prewitt of Capitals Insider,
In his first meeting with reporters since committing nearly $70 million to three free agents this month, Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis said the new regime under General Manager Brian MacLellan and Coach Barry Trotz addressed exactly what they targeted this offseason.
“As an owner, you set strategy and vision and budget,” he said. “Then you have to enable your people to do things. I green-lit that we could spend every dollar we could for goaltending and defense. That was my input.”
Now just $1.1 million shy of the salary cap, the Capitals gave a combined $69.65 million to defenseman Matt Niskanen, defenseman Brooks Orpik and goaltender Justin Peters on July 1, the first day of free agency. And while MacLellan, that day, described a busy scene inside the team offices, hustling between rooms for contractual approval, Leonsis seems to have taken a more hands-off approach, trusting in his two hires to make the ultimate calls.
“In fact, I think it was more that Mac would inform us in what he was going to do,” Leonsis said. We told him when we hired him, as we did, you and the coaches make the decisions. You need to be totally in sync. With the players that we signed, the players that we draft, you have to be in total sync. So far, so good on that. I think that’s a good move in a positive direction to have the organization all signing from the same songbook.”
We will see what other moves the Capitals have in mind this summer but, right now, it appears that they spent a lot of money to get better in the short-term; signing deals that appear to have more downside risk because of the long terms involved.
-Scott Cullen of TSN on the signings the Washington Capitals made yesterday. More in-depth analysis of the Washington signings.
from Alex Prewitt of the Washington Post,
After one month of tedious preparation had resulted in $68.9 million of NHL contracts signed within a few hours, Capitals General Manager Brian MacLellan walked downstairs at the team’s practice facility and into the locker room, where reporters awaited. “Be nice,” he jokingly said as he approached the podium. “Be nice.”
A seven-year deal worth $40.25 million to Matt Niskanen and a five-year deal worth $27.5 million to Brooks Orpik had left plenty of questions for MacLellan, and he answered all under the umbrella of addressing needs. In his first free agency atop the front office, the calculus was simple: To shore up the defense, add leadership and improve five-on-five play, Washington needed to open its checkbook.
“We had cap room,” MacLellan said. “Ownership gave the green light to get to the cap, and we spent the money where we felt we needed to spend it the most.
“It’s a big commitment by our organization and hopefully the players see the commitment by both ownership and management to address perceived needs that we do have. I’m excited about it and hopefully they are too.”
from Chuck Gormley of CSNWashington,
It’s no secret the Capitals are looking to add two defensemen to their blue line and landing Niskanen and Orpik would be a grand slam for general manager Brian MacLellan. The Caps might also have interest in 32-year-old defenseman Christian Ehrhoff, who was bought out by the Buffalo Sabres over the weekend.
“I think the first phase of making our team better is getting a staff in place right before the draft,” Trotz said. “Now, when you talk to a free agent he knows what the staff is. I think that’s really important.
“We’ve got the staff, we’ve got the facilities, we’ve got a lot of good pieces on our hockey team, so we have a lot of good selling points.”
from Alex Prewitt of Capitals Insider,
“I think we want some veteran guys back there to stabilize things and allow some of the younger guys to develop so you put them in the right hole,” Trotz said. “I think a right- and left-handed shot, if you know of anybody. There’s a couple D-men that we’re actually targeting that probably so are 20 other teams. Teams are smart. They lock up their core for a long period of time. The windows of those guys have changed.”
One month into the Washington gig, Trotz has finished reviewing film of the roster and seemed bullish on the young Capitals defensemen rising through the organization, such as Nate Schmidt, Patrick Wey and Connor Carrick. He also talked about being stronger around the net, leveraging position to “tie up people” when pucks are batted about. But those are matters best handled during the preseason, and Trotz knows the Capitals need to act now.
“The great thing about Washington is they have lots of assets in terms of forwards, some teams might be looking for scoring, we can do something there,” he said. “That’s really up to Mac. I think the first phase of making our team better is, I thought Mac did a good job of getting the staff in place right before the draft here. That free agency period to getting to talk to people and what have you, you’re going to talk to a free agent, he knows what the staff is. I think that’s really important.”
from Brad Walter of the Sydney Morning Herald,
Nathan Walker and his parents Wayne and Ceri were doing ''jumping jacks'' around their Grays Point home at 1.30am on Sunday after the 20-year-old became the first Australian selected in the NHL draft.
Walker and his parents were watching the NHL draft online from Philadelphia when the Washington Capitals chose him at No.89 after trading their two fourth-round choices with the New York Rangers for the penultimate pick in the third round. After attending development and training camps with the Capitals during the past two northern summers, Walker was well known to Washington officials and they were concerned he had attracted the interest of other franchises while playing last season for Hershey Bears in the American Hockey League.
''I am just speechless,'' Walker said. ''I was watching a feed with my parents and a cousin, and they just announced my name at about 1.30am. It was unbelievable. We were doing jumping jacks around the lounge room. The Capitals called me last night and just said they wanted to congratulate me.''
Once the announcement was made, the phone didn't stop ringing as friends and family called to congratulate Walker on the fulfilment of a dream that began when he watched the film The Mighty Ducks and involved him moving to the Czech Republic at 13 years of age to play ice hockey.
from Jason Brough of ProHockeyTalk,
... Trotz believes Ovechkin has to “grow his game if we’re going to win a championship.” And while that goes for everyone on the team — he was by no means trying to single out his captain — he did share one specific critique with reporters.
“Alex has got a bit too much glide in his game,” said Trotz. “When you’re standing still you’re really easy to cover.”
added 3:48pm, Watch Trotz speaking about the Capitals in this E.J. Hradek interview below...
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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