A year ago, in an effort to cultivate his relationship with Alex Ovechkin, Adam Oates booked a nine-hour trip to Moscow to see how his star captain lived and trained and spent his offseason.
Last week, Barry Trotz became Ovechkin's fourth coach in three calendar years and his fifth coach since joining the Caps in 2005.
This time, Ovechkin will be given a different message. Different expectations. Maybe even a move from right wing to left wing.
But the end goal will remain the same, getting Ovechkin and the Capitals to a level where they can compete, really compete, for the Stanley Cup.
One week into the job Trotz said he had reached out to every player on the Capitals and had gotten to speak with most of them, some at Kettler, most over the phone.
"Some of them in Europe I was unable to reach because of either the time difference or they didn't recognize my number," Trotz said.
Trotz said he managed to speak to Ovechkin, but only long enough to see if there is a time the two can meet face-to-face, perhaps at the NHL Awards ceremony on June 24 in Las Vegas, where Ovechkin will be awarded his fourth Rocket Richard Trophy as the NHL's leading goal scorer.
"I talked with Ovi and I'll give him another call this week," Trotz said. "It was just a meet and greet phone call, it wasn't anything intense. Just trying to figure out his plans for the summer and if he's going to the NHL awards so we can sit down."
It will be interesting to see if Trotz places as much emphasis on his relationship with his 28-year-old captain as Oates did during his two-year stay in Washington, when he coaxed Ovechkin to move from left wing to right wing and helped turn him back into the NHL's leading goal scorer with 83 goals in 125 games, yet still lost his job.
At his introductory press conference Trotz made it clear that he'll need Ovechkin to play his best hockey if he hopes to become the first head coach to get him into the conference finals.
"He does something special, he scores a lot," Trotz said. "But you can contribute in so many other ways, too. My job as a coach is to allow Alex and every other player to reach their potential as a group. One of the very fundamental things, if you have a kindergarten, they give you a report card and say, 'Do you play well with others?' My job is to get everybody to play well together."