A popular discussion among Washington Capitals fans revolves around one central question: Can Barry Trotz and Alex Ovechkin co-exist and win a Stanley Cup together? Adam Oates did not know how to properly utilize him, and the Washington Capitals paid dearly for that by not making the playoffs last season. If the Washington Capitals wish to return to the playoffs, Trotz must do a good job at utilizing Alex Ovechkin and help him further improve his game.
In a recent NHL.com article, here’s what he had to say about Alex Ovechkin:
“I don’t want to take away from the tremendous offensive gift that [Alex Ovechkin] has; I actually want to enhance it. He’s a lot more dangerous when he’s skating, when he’s moving, when he’s got a little bit of room to operate. I have found him standing still a lot on the film that I’m watching, very easy to cover, and he still got 51 goals. If you’re going to be a championship-caliber team or a threat to be a championship-caliber team you have to play a 200-foot game and you have to produce on both ends of the ice. Production is being able to defend and offensively being able to score. There aren’t too many perfect players in the National Hockey League; they all have faults. But Alex’s greatest gift is he can score and scoring is really hard. It’s probably the hardest thing to do in the National Hockey League and he might be the best in the League at doing that. I don’t want to take away from his gifts. I want to enhance his gifts. I want to enhance his ability to help the team even more. His 5-on-5 production has to be higher. He doesn’t get any free passes. He’s playing against the best.”
I realize that words mean very little, and that actions mean everything. With that said, if Barry Trotz does with Alex Ovechkin what he says he’ll do with him, the Washington Capitals will definitely benefit from it. Bruce Boudreau was the last Washington Capitals coach who consistently held Alex Ovechkin responsible and realized how to use him. I don’t think it’s just a coincidence that Ovechkin had his greatest successes while being coached by Boudreau.
Barry Trotz seems to want to help Alex Ovechkin improve his game as opposed to trying to make him into something that he is not. Ovechkin finally has a coach who believes in him, but still wants him to be a more complete player. I look forward to seeing how Barry Trotz and Alex Ovechkin get along, because quite frankly, the future of the Washington Capitals depends on it.