On Memorial Day, the Washington Capitals announced they’ve promoted assistant GM Brian MacLellan to General Manager and have also hired former Nashville coach Barry Trotz as their new bench boss.
My quick take: they hit a home run on the coach and they swung and missed on the GM choice.
Let’s start with the positives. I worked for Barry Trotz back in the early 90’s when he was with the Capitals organization and he is not only a super coach but a great person. His passion for the game is unbelievable and he’ll do what he can to help anyone else he believes loves hockey too. True story, Barry once gave me five pages of notes and drills to use for my adult hockey team, and I didn’t even ask for it. That’s just one indication of how much he cares about hockey, and more importantly, people.
With Trotz, the Capitals will be a hard working two way team. The defensive and neutral zone disasters we witnessed in 2013-14 should be a thing of the past. He will implement a system that will maximize his talent and he will hold the team accountable to playing it.
The Capitals absolutely obtained the services of the best coach available right now in the market.
When the Capitals cleaned house just over a month ago, I blogged that the GM decision was critical and arguably the most important in team history. Caps owner Ted Leonsis also stated that the organization was looking for a fresh look at things.
Hiring MacLellan, on the surface, does not meet that criteria, at all. With names like Ray Shero and Craig Button available, men who’ve won Stanley Cups in a hockey management position, I don’t see how the Capitals came close to getting the right person to lead them to their first Stanley Cup.
As assistant GM, MacLellan was in charge of the pro scouting and that is where this organization has really fallen down the last several years. The return on the Filip Forsberg trade was abysmal and recent free agent moves have not addressed the team’s main deficiencies, which start on the blue line. When you see the attention paid to that position and moves like Roman Hamrlik and Tyson Strachan, you have to wonder what is going on in the pro scouting arena? How many times did George McPhee tell the media and the fans “We like our D?” Wasn’t MacLellan a part of the “We?”
Overall, the moves this team has made at the pro level the last few years have caused this team to go backwards, so why stick with someone in house?
That’s a question that Owner Ted Leonsis and Team President Dick Patrick will have to answer because this decision is a very hard sell to me if you are trying to win at all costs.
This organization could use some new thinking in the hockey management department and this hire doesn’t do that.
Yes, Barry Trotz is a great move and he’ll bring a fresh set of ideas and eyes to the organization. But for Barry to win, he needs better players. The blue line on this team is woeful and they lack depth at center.
Both of those areas have been deficient for years, yet the GM they’ve hired is one who has been involved in the personnel decisions of a club that, as currently configured, is not a Stanley Cup contender.
Bottom line, the Caps needed to bring in an experienced GM from the outside, and they didn’t do that.