From the moment the Capitals decided to fire Adam Oates, they had Barry Trotz at the top of their wish list.
On Monday, they got their man, hiring Trotz as the 17th coach in team history and their fourth head coach in three years while promoting Brian MacLellan from assistant general manager to general manager.
While many expected Trotz to land the job in Washington, the promotion of MacLellan comes as a bit of a surprise, especially with former Penguins general manager Ray Shero, Nashville Predators assistant general manager Paul Fenton and Boston Bruins assistant general manager Don Sweeney considered top candidates.
“After interviewing a number of extremely well qualified and capable candidates outside of the organization, we became even more confident that Brian is the best person to lead our hockey club,” said Capitals president Dick Patrick.
“He possesses the necessary skill set that is required for this position and has the vision that we believe will give us a realistic chance of consistently competing for the Stanley Cup.
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“In Barry, we are getting an experienced and well-respected coach whose presence and tutelage will benefit our players. With these moves we believe we took a big step forward in assembling a great leadership group that will be in synch and in alignment for our hockey team.”
Trotz spent 16 years as coach of the Predators. MacLellan has spent the past 13 years assisting George McPhee with the Capitals.
“After conducting an extensive search for a general manager, we determined that Brian was the best candidate to help us reach our ultimate goal, winning the Stanley Cup,” Capitals owner Ted Leonsis said.
“We have witnessed his abilities firsthand, and we have tremendous respect for how he manages people and situations. We feel he has relevant, in-depth knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses of our franchise and will be forceful in addressing them.
“Brian always has displayed tremendous professionalism, passion and commitment to the Capitals. He has his own unique approach, and we are confident in his abilities to lead this organization to new heights.”
As an assistant GM with the Capital the past seven seasons, MacLellan, 55, oversaw the Capitals professional scouting staff and worked closely with the team’s American Hockey League affiliate, the Hershey Bears.
MacLellan, who served as a pro scout for the Capitals from 2000-03 and then was promoted to director of player personnel, assisted and advised the general manager in all player-related matters.
He said he is honored and excited to begin his career as the Caps’ top decision maker.
“Over the course of my career I have worked in acquiring the necessary skills to excel in this position,” MacLellan said. “We have built a solid foundation, and I look forward to implementing my ideas to get us back to competing for the Stanley Cup.
“Also, it is a great pleasure to welcome Barry to Washington as the new head coach of the Capitals. Barry’s teams have always played with structure, discipline and intensity, and I look forward to him leading us to success for many years to come.”
In his 15 seasons in Nashville Trotz guided the Predators to the playoffs seven times, but he managed to win just two of nine playoff series.
“This is a great organization with a strong foundation and a tremendous fan base.,” Trotz said .”I look forward to working with this group of talented players and the quality front office staff this team has assembled.”
Trotz ranks third all-time in both games coached (1,196) and wins (557) with a single franchise. He also ranks 15th on the NHL’s coaching victories list and fourth among active coaches behind only Joel Quenneville (Chicago), Ken Hitchcock (St. Louis) and Lindy Ruff (Dallas).
MacLellan, who won a Stanley Cup with the Calgary Flames in 1989, had a 10-year NHL career in which he skated for the Los Angeles Kings, New York Rangers, Minnesota North Stars, Calgary Flames and Detroit Red Wings. A forward who played 606 NHL games, MacLellan recorded 172 goals, 241 assists and 413 points.
Prior to joining the Predators, Trotz spent five seasons (1992-97) as the coach of the Capitals’ primary developmental affiliate in the American Hockey League. He was named coach of the Baltimore Skipjacks in 1992 after one season as an assistant coach. Following the franchise’s relocation to Portland, Maine, in 1993, he led the Portland Pirates to two Calder Cup finals appearances during the next four seasons. In 1994-95, Trotz coached Portland to a Calder Cup championship and a league-best 43-27-10 record and captured AHL Coach of the Year honors. In 2006 he was honored with election to the Pirates’ Hall of Fame.