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Capitals hire Barry Trotz as head coach, promote Brian MacLellan to GM

Nashville Predators head coach Barry Trotz answers questions at a news conference Monday, April 14, 2014, in Nashville, Tenn. The Predators announced earlier in the day that Trotz's contract won't be extended and they will begin looking for a new head coach. Trotz is the only head coach the NHL hockey team has had
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Nashville Predators head coach Barry Trotz answers questions at a news conference Monday, April 14, 2014, in Nashville, Tenn. The Predators announced earlier in the day that Trotz's contract won't be extended and they will begin looking for a new head coach. Trotz is the only head coach the NHL hockey team has had. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

The Washington Capitals' front-office overhaul is complete, as the club announced Monday that Barry Trotz has been hired to replace Adam Oates as head coach, as expected, and he will report to newly-promoted General Manager and senior vice president Brian MacLellan.

MacLellan previously served as an assistant GM with the Capitals, but it became clear that he was about to see his role expanded -- or had already -- when he was heavily involved in bringing Mr. Trotz to Washington, as reported by CBC's Elliotte Friedman.

He even showed Trotz around the nation's capital, and as House of Cards has taught us, it's important to understand Washington.

“After conducting an extensive search for a general manager, we determined that Brian was the best candidate to help us reach our ultimate goal, winning the Stanley Cup," said owner Ted Leonsis, in the team's release. 

"We have witnessed his abilities firsthand, and we have tremendous respect for how he manages people and situations. We feel he has relevant, in-depth knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses of our franchise and will be forceful in addressing them. Brian always has displayed tremendous professionalism, passion and commitment to the Capitals. He has his own unique approach, and we are confident in his abilities to lead this organization to new heights."

You can see the rationale behind the move. The Capitals are in a state of flux -- they have been ever since they fired Bruce Boudreau -- and they probably thought it too drastic a shake-up to turn the whole thing over to a coach/GM combo with absolutely no first-hand experience with how they got to where they are. 

But it will be up to Trotz to establish the new normal in Washington. What the Capitals have really lacked for the last few years is a team identity, and after his long tenure with the Predators, it's clear that Trotz is a master at instilling one of those.

“We are also excited to welcome Barry back to the Capitals organization," said Leonsis, referring to Trotz's days as the coach of the Capitals' AHL affiliate, which preceded his time in Nashville. "Barry is a highly respected and accomplished coach who brings us a wealth of experience. He possesses high character and the exact leadership qualities we look for in the head coach. He was the only coach we coveted, and we feel he is an ideal fit to help lead our club.”

Now we watch and wait to see if the Capitals' results synch up with these feelings.

One wonders how he'll mesh with one of the NHL's purest goal-scorers in Alexander Ovechkin -- pure in the sense that he doesn't do much else. Will Trotz demand more of a two-way game from Ovechkin? Undoubtedly. But how much offence is he willing to sacrifice for it?

For this hire to work out, the Capitals have to hope that Trotz and this roster are complementary rather than incompatible, that he can bring some defensive responsibility to the group without snuffing out the offensive firepower they have.

It's a gamble, but Trotz has to be as motivated as anyone else to see it through. For the sake of his long-term NHL career, he has to make it clear that the Predators' scoring problems were a product of their roster, and not his system.

“This is a great organization with a strong foundation and a tremendous fan base," Trotz said. "I look forward to working with this group of talented players and the quality front office staff this team has assembled.”

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