Back when Barry Trotz was hired, J.R. Lind, a reporter who covers the Nashville Predators, did an interview with a website. During the interview (you can find the transcript here), he said something very interesting:
“[Barry Trotz] has a system — it was ‘the Predator Way’ here, so I’m sure it’ll be the ‘Capital Way’ there and he’ll say it so much you’ll get sick of it and lampoon it and eventually it will simply mean ‘something the team does that I don’t like’ even if that thing is the opposite thing of what it meant the year before — and it relies on every player doing very specific things.”
Simply, the Capitals Way is a unique way of playing the game of hockey and doing things that, for better or for worse, will define the Washington Capitals organization. The Predators Way existed, and for quite some time, they were successful because of it. Assistant coach Lane Lambert had this to say when asked to define the Capitals Way in a recent Washington Post article:
“‘I think it’s team-first and you’re able to count on the guy right beside you, across from you,’ assistant coach Lane Lambert said. ‘There’s a lot of togetherness. There’s a lot of team-oriented concepts that we work on this week.'”
The Capitals Way is not something that will just be stressed at the NHL level. It’s a way that will be stressed and taught throughout the entire organization.
“[Hershey Bears head coach Troy Mann], 44, said he and Trotz will play very similar style this season and gave a glimpse into what that style will be in Washington and Hershey.
‘He wants to push the pace, he wants to play an uptempo style and he wants to go after the puck,’ Mann said. ‘And when you don’t have the puck, you want to be getting it back as soon as possible and that’s my philosophy as well.'”
I think that a strong relationship between Hershey and Washington is going to help the entire organization to have success. Trotz and Mann are clearly on the right path. Not only will they have similar systems so that Hershey players can be called up and understand their role, Trotz and Mann have also made it a point to stay in constant contact with each other with the 48 hour rule.
“‘Where we make sure either I call him or he calls me,’ Mann said. ‘We’ll make sure we’re communicating every couple days in terms of who’s playing well.'”
The Capitals Way, in my opinion, is not something that is engraved in stone. I think that it will change from year to year, depending on the players. Barry Trotz is not the kind of coach who tries to force his players to fit into his system, like a kid who tries to force a round peg to fit into a square hole. That is basically what Dale Hunter attempted to do, trying to force the high-octane offense Capitals to be something that they weren’t: a defensive-first team that struggled to score. Oates, on the other hand, didn’t realize which pegs fit into which holes. If a peg didn’t fit, rather than try to find a hole for the peg to fit in, he blamed the peg for not fitting in.
Instead, Trotz molds his system to fit his players. Instead of trying to hammer round pegs into square holes, he’ll simply find round holes so that those round pegs will fit in. With the help of Mann and General Manager Brian MacLellan, Trotz will better understand the holes that he needs to create for the pegs that he has and also what kind of pegs he has.
The Capitals organization has lacked a direction since 2012 with all the coaching changes and confusion about what kind of team the Capitals want to be. With the formation of the Capitals Way, I think that is something that will quickly change. The Capitals Way will give the Capitals organization a direction and continuity. For the first time in years, the Capitals are running their organization like one machine as opposed to several.