Trotz’s decision Monday sent shockwaves through the NHL coaching community, including the three finalists for the Jack Adams Award, given to the NHL coach of the year.
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Gallant, who coached the first-season Golden Knights to the Stanley Cup Final, where they lost in five games, will be the hometown favorite to win the Jack Adams at the 2018 NHL Awards presented by Hulu at the Hard Rock Hotel Casino Las Vegas on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN). Boston Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy and Colorado Avalanche coach Jared Bednar are the other finalists.
Trotz, 55, won the Jack Adams after the Capitals won the Presidents’ Trophy in 2015-16, but this season might have been his best.
Despite the departures of veterans Justin Williams, Marcus Johansson, Karl Alzner, Nate Schmidt and Kevin Shattenkirk, Washington finished first in the Metropolitan Division for a third consecutive season. The Capitals won the Stanley Cup for the first time since entering the NHL in 1974.
After the Capitals defeated the Golden Knights 4-3 in Game 5 on June 7, there appeared to be a good chance Trotz would return. But he resigned Monday after he and the Capitals were unable to agree on a contract extension.
“I didn’t know a whole lot about the contract situation, but I thought Barry did an unbelievable job, and that’s the way things happen,” Gallant said. “I don’t know a lot of what’s going on, just what you read in the papers, and Barry to me did an unbelievable job. He’s a great coach and a good person, and I’m sure he’ll be OK.”
Cassidy agreed, saying, “He won’t be unemployed long.”
Trotz was 205-89-34 in four seasons with the Capitals. He is fifth in NHL history with 762 wins, 20 behind Al Arbour for fourth place. He was 557-479-100 with 60 ties with the Nashville Predators from 1998-2014.
This season was the first time Trotz advanced beyond the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
“I’m happy for Barry to see him win the Stanley Cup,” Bednar said. “I have a lot of friends in the Capitals organization. It was nice to see them win. Sometimes that’s just the way it goes. The business side of it comes into play and they decided to part ways.”
Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said the main sticking point was that Trotz wanted a five-year contract. MacLellan said salary was also an issue, with Trotz seeking to be paid like “a top four or five coach.”
Other than the Capitals, the New York Islanders are the only NHL team with a coaching vacancy. Associate coach Todd Reirden is the favorite to succeed Trotz in Washington.
Cassidy said he believes it will help others if Trotz gets the contract he wants on the open market.
“It’s always good for the coaches,” Cassidy said. “Eventually, it will drive salaries up, so when it’s your turn to be up, and if you’ve done the job and the organization respects you, then you’re going to get yours. As far as for him, his resume speaks for itself, so I’m sure he’ll do just fine.”