LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin scored 51 goals last season to capture his second consecutive and fourth career Maurice Richard Trophy, an award he’ll collect at Tuesday night’s NHL Awards in Las Vegas.
But it was a dinner meeting he had over the weekend that created the buzz at Monday’s informal media event at the Wynn Country Club.
Ovechkin and Barry Trotz finally had a chance to meet face to face for the first time since the former Nashville Predators coach was named Capitals coach on May 26.
“It was a good meeting, I think he’ll be happy,” said Ovechkin, who leads the NHL in goals (422), points (814), power-play goals (151) and game-winning goals (69) since entering the league in 2005. “We talked about the system, how he wants to coach.”
The Capitals star made it a point to avoid discussing the details of his conversation with Trotz, but did acknowledge that the coach said there would be some changes.
“He’s going to explain to everybody, it’s not about just me, everybody will have to change,” said Ovechkin, who became the 11th player in NHL history to record five 50-goal campaigns. “We just talked about how he wants to play with me and how he wants to play with the team. We talked about good things—lots of good things, lots of bad things—he sees what he can change with the team and what he can change with my game.”
Trotz, who has never coached a 40-goal scorer, instilled a defensive scheme in Nashville. He was the only coach of the Predators since they joined the league as an expansion franchise for the 1998-99 season. The 51-year-old Trotz was fired at the end of last season, after compiling a career record of 557-479-60 in 15 seasons. His 1,196 regular-season games coached ranks him 14th on the all-time coaching list.
“He’s a straightforward coach and that’s the best thing you can expect from a new guy,” said Ovechkin. “He’s going to bring some new stuff for me and my teammates. It’s going to be a new season and it’s going to be a brand new day for me. We still have the same team, the same group of guys right now. The new coach is going to bring a new system and we’ll see how it goes.”
When Trotz was named coach, the Capitals also promoted Brian MacLellan to general manager, making him the sixth GM in team history after he spent the past seven seasons as the team’s assistant general manager.
“The whole organization is making a big step; they fired (former GM) George (McPhee), fired (former coach) Adam (Oates) and the organization wants to make improvements,” Ovechkin said. “Just glad they haven’t fired me yet. I’m still here with a Capitals jersey. … New coach, a new GM and we’ll see what’s going to happen with the team, the system and all kind of stuff. It’s going to be an interesting year.”