Capitals hire Reirden as assistant coach

Capitals hire Reirden as assistant coach
June 25, 2014, 8:30 pm
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The Capitals didn’t take long to snatch an assistant coach away from the Pittsburgh Penguins. Shortly after Todd Reirden was relieved of his duties with the Penguins on Wednesday, the Capitals swooped in an hired him as an assistant to new head coach Barry Trotz.

Reirden, 43, had the responsibilities of coaching the Penguins’ defensemen under Dan Bylsma and is expected to do the same under Trotz. He will take over for former Caps defenseman Calle Johansson, who returned to Sweden after two years as Adam Oates’ assistant coach.

Reirden, a former NHL defenseman, spent the past four seasons with the Penguins, working closely with their defensemen and power-play unit.

It will be interesting to see if his hiring has any impact on impending free-agent defenseman Matt Niskanen and/or Brooks Orpik. Niskanen, 27, is coming off a career-high of 10 goals and 36 assists for the Penguins and is considered one of the most coveted defensemen on the free agent market.

Orpik, 33, had two goals and 11 assists in 72 games for the Pens and could be the steadying influence the Caps are hoping to provide Mike Green on the team’s second defense pairing.

Under the guidance of Reirden, the Penguins’ power play scored the most power-play goals [164] and posted the highest power-play percentage [22.3 percent] in the NHL since 2011. Reirden oversaw a defensive corps that ranked seventh in goals [38] in 2013-14, and sent three players to the 2014 Winter Olympics [Olli Maatta, Paul Martin, Orpik].

The Pens also ranked in the top 12 in goals against in three of his four seasons with the team. He also helped develop defenseman Kris Letang into a two-time NHL All-Star and 2013 Norris Trophy finalist and helped Niskanen post the highest plus/minus (plus-33) among NHL defensemen in 2013-14.

Reirden joined the Penguins organization in 2008 as an assistant coach with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins of the AHL and was promoted to head coach following Bylsma’s promotion to Pittsburgh.

In his two seasons as head coach of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Reirden guided the team to a 55-43-8 record and has seen 36 of his former players reach the NHL, including 15 defensemen who played in the NHL during the 2013-14 season.

During the 2009 playoffs, the Deerfield, Ill., native joined Pittsburgh’s extended playoff coaching staff and assisted with in-game adjustments, helping the team capture the Stanley Cup. Prior to joining the Penguins organization, Reirden spent one season as an assistant coach with his alma mater – the Bowling Green Falcons.

Reirden was selected by New Jersey in the 12th round, 242nd overall, in the 1990 NHL Entry Draft. He recorded 46 points [11 goals, 35 assists] and 181 penalty minutes in 183 career NHL games with Edmonton, St. Louis, Atlanta and Phoenix.