Fantasy Take: Capitals Making Coaching Change
The Washington Capitals have announced that Todd Reirden will not be returning as head coach next season.
In spite of back-to-back Metropolitan Division titles and an 89-46-16 record, Reirden could not advance the Capitals past the first round in either of his two seasons as head coach. Most recently, the Capitals were eliminated by previous head coach Barry Trotz and the New York Islanders in five games.
In general, teams may be giving coaches the benefit of the doubt more often than normal this summer given the unusual circumstances of the return to play and the bubble. Yet after the Capitals were finally able to win their first Stanley Cup in 2018 after years of playoff failures, they are back to not meeting playoff expectations.
The fact that potential starter Ilya Samsonov could not play at all in the postseason is not on the coach. Nor are the injuries to Nicklas Backstrom and John Carlson. However, it appears that Reirden did not make the right adjustments, couldn't motivate his players, and/or was simply outcoached by Trotz and his stifling defensive system. For example, a bottom six that included Jakub Vrana and Ilya Kovalchuk could not record any points against the Islanders.
It's possible that GM Brian MacLellan is moving Reirden out to try to land a more experienced coach like Gerard Gallant or Peter Laviolette. There's always a slight chance that a reunion with former head coach Bruce Boudreau is in the works. However, history suggests that the Capitals are more likely to turn to a rookie head coach, when what they need is an experienced head coach to extend the aging core. Alex Ovechkin will be turning 35 soon and Backstrom will be turning 33 this year, so there aren't a lot of years left with the current core.
Also remember that the most experienced coach in that group (Trotz) left because of money.
Don't be surprised if there are further roster changes ahead for the Capitals. The defense, which was a key reason the team won the Stanley Cup in 2018, now needs to be rebuilt. The same could happen with the bottom 6 after its poor showing in the playoffs. Long-time goalie Braden Holtby is almost certain to leave via free agency.
Check back for further analysis once the Capitals announce their new head coach.
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