Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 06/08/18 at 08:09 AM ET
via the NHL PR department,
COACH BARRY TROTZ
Q. We talked earlier in the playoffs about having a kinship with some of these players that have gone through a lot, haven't been able to get over the hump. When Ovi handed you the Cup, what was that moment like?
BARRY TROTZ: It was sort of a real special moment because we've sort of lived the same life a little bit. We had a conversation. Obviously we were down 2-0 against Columbus. We said, we're winning tomorrow, and we're going to go win a Cup together.
We got a good bond. I think we have a good relationship. I was really happy for him. I'm so happy for that group, for all the stuff that they had to endure, all the things that were said about them, Ovi in particular, Backie, that whole group.
To me, they changed all the narratives. They checked off every box. Look at every series, we were down in every series, come back in every one. It was probably fitting we were down in this game and had to come back and win.
Q. Is this more meaningful to you because you don't know exactly what's going to happen next for you? Maybe did you approach it differently, given that?
BARRY TROTZ: I don't know if I did. I think I approached the whole year the same way. Like I said, I got some clarity in my own thought process. I think it just calmed everything down.
I've done lots of good things in my life. I will continue to do that. So I wasn't getting consumed with what was said, what my future holds, whatever. I'm in a pretty good spot.
Q. As a point of clarification, when you went to visit Alex, that was last summer?
BARRY TROTZ: Yeah, actually I saw him right after his wedding, before he went on his honeymoon.
Q. Can you let us in a little bit on what that conversation was all about, maybe how it might have put the seeds in place of what's going on now?
BARRY TROTZ: Me and Alex have always had very honest conversations. It's not X's and O's, it's just life stuff. I said, we're still a pretty good team, and can be as good as we want to be, but we've got to change a couple things. We're not going to have the same team. We lost a lot of quality people.
He's going to have to probably carry a little more of the burden. The game is changing, so you're going to have to come up with a few more tricks in your game. As you're getting older, we're going to have to train a little different so you become the athlete you always have been, because these young kids can absolutely fly.
You still got the skill set, still have that, but we're going to lean more heavily on you, and you got to be ready for that. You're the one that's going to set the tone.
What does he do? He comes into the start of the season, gets seven goals in two games. There's guys that can't get seven in a year, he got seven in two games.
He sort of set that bar personally because a lot of things were said about him that I think he is very prideful and just said, you know what, I'm going to prove you all wrong. And he did.
Q. Talk about your favorite moment on the ice tonight, something maybe you saw in celebration or a conversation you had.
BARRY TROTZ: There's all of them. On the ice, probably for someone who wasn't a very good hockey player, never played in the National Hockey League, lifting the Cup, getting to lift it with Alex, who we sort of got a little bit of the same story, if you will. That was pretty special.
To me, it's all the sacrifices that your family has had to make, all the sacrifices of that. You missed important things. But I always dreamed about it. When you're not a good player, you go, maybe I never will lift that Cup. You always played for it on the street, on your knees in the hallway against your best friend and stuff.
Jack Button, who got me a little bit into coaching. There's a couple people.
Today when we lifted the cup with Alex, I was so happy for him, so happy for my family. I was so happy for people who have been really endeared me in this game. One was Tommy Ebright when I was in Portland. I think he stood behind me. I thought I was going to get turfed one year, I think in Baltimore, he was one of the guys that got behind me. Jack Button who hired me. David Poile. One of my mentors coaching, Wayne Fleming.
When I lifted the Cup, those four people came to mind.
Q. Can you talk about how valuable Kuznetsov was in a run, and also touch on Holtby's play.
BARRY TROTZ: Kuzy was fantastic. He took over games. That was a toss-up for me. I thought they were neck-and-neck. If you ask me who gets the Conn Smythe, I thought, man, that's going to be a tough choice. Kuzy probably deserved it. Probably have to split that in half for me, they're both so good.
He's just scratching the surface. People are finding out how good a player he is. Exceptional talent.
Obviously Holtz, just like all great goaltenders, you go through some dry spells in your games or you lose your way a little bit, your foundation. When he sort of lost that number one role a little bit, where Grubauer took over for a long stretch, I think two things happened. I think it reset him, got him back to his foundations. He's a blue-collar guy from Saskatchewan. I think that got him back to a lot of those foundations, got him acutely focused.
With Holtz, we had a conversation. He was very respectful. He understood that he wasn't going to start in the playoffs. He said, If I get a chance to go back in, I'm going to be really good for you.
I think also when you get reset, you get a little bit of a break, because he's a guy that puts a lot into his craft. You see the preparation before games. He didn't have to play as much, too. That might have been the difference.
Q. You mentioned about being in a good spot.
BARRY TROTZ: I'm just in a good spot personally. I love what I do in Washington. I love the guys. I'm just in a good spot, a good place. I didn't mean it any other way.
Q. I know the timing isn't great, but so many people who cheer for you, are happy for you, are also wondering about your future. Do you think there is one with the team you just won the Cup with?
BARRY TROTZ: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely.
Q. You've been chasing this for so long. To finally lift that Cup over your head, are you able to put into words to what that meant to you?
ALEX OVECHKIN: It meant everything. I think this moment, we waiting a long, long time. Since day one, Ted, I was at that house. We just kind of met the family. We were swimming in the pool. He told me, like, one day we're going to win it. It was the first year. I don't even know what the team is.
I knew he wanted it so bad. This organization want it so bad. It's nice to be part of it. It's nice to be in this organization all 13 years, 14, whatever. It just was – joy. Was tough time, but we fight through it and we get result.
Now I'm going home to our family, our fans. It's just something special, you know. I don't know. I'm just very excited and I'm very happy right now.
Q. When you dreamt of it, when you thought of it, did you think it would be like this? Is it even better than you thought it would be?
ALEX OVECHKIN: This is even better. I think it's just like a dream. You know, it was hard, long season. We fight through it. We work so hard through all the years. We always together. Was a whole one team sticking to the system. Doesn't matter what happen, we didn't panic. Even after the third period, we knew we just have to push it, get result done.
Q. You've been on so many good teams. For this time to finally do it, what do you think was special about this team?
ALEX OVECHKIN: Every team was special. But I thought the only thing that last couple years, we didn't pass the second round. Just playing, and no satisfaction. Every year we want to fight through it. Finally we did.
We knew this year is going to be our year. We just have to believe it and keep working, keep playing.
Q. What was said after the second period in the locker room? You guys came out and dominated in the third.
ALEX OVECHKIN: It was pretty quiet. We just said, like, stay the same way, keep the same way, stay focused. Just grinding it out, you get it done.
Q. You were the long-running favorites for so many years, obviously came up short. Does it mean anything more to do it this year when everybody doubted you and didn't give you the chance they had done so in the past?
ALEX OVECHKIN: How I said before this series, I don't think anybody was thinking it was going to be theStanley Cup Finals between the Capitals and Knights. So, again, I'm always saying after every game, if we going to play the right way, we're going to stick together, stick to the system, play smart, we're going to get results.
I think everybody was on same page, end up with a Stanley Cup. Everybody on the same page, everybody do the same job, to help out the team. You know, we did it.
Q. You got to raise the Conn Smythe, but can you talk about your linemate, about how valuable Kuznetsov has been to you this entire season and in the playoffs.
ALEX OVECHKIN: He was unbelievable. What I can say? He makes the magic over there. He keep puck on his hands, we knew, like, something's going to happen.
It was fun to watch. Fun to play with him in this series, this whole playoffs. I'm sure you can see how he played today, whole Finals. He scored big goals. He was outstanding.
It's not about me. It's just the whole team deserve it. I'm just lucky to have this reward.
Q. Some of the exchanges you had with Marc-Andre Fleury in this series, how special it is to finally beat your long-time nemesis?
ALEX OVECHKIN: Yeah, he knows how to win. He was the best player over there. We knew if we're going to have a chance, we're going to find a rebound, we're going to do the thing right, we were going to get success.
How I said, we was together and we get it done.
Q. Can you describe the moment with Ted. You picked him up off the ground, then you got to hand him the Cup.
ALEX OVECHKIN: Yeah, decided before. He told me one day we’re going to win it, before my first year, before my first start, game. We waited so long. We're waiting 13 years to get the Cup.
This is something. Something special. It's unbelievable.
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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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