LEADERSHIP ON DISPLAY AT CAPITALS DEVELOPMENT CAMP

Posted on July 14, 2014 by Charley Miller

Photo Credit: (Photo by John McDonnell/The Washington Post)


There was no shortage of exciting news emanating from Capitals Development Camp last week:  

  • Jakub Vrana, a Czech teenager whom few people that aren't NHL scouts or residents of Linkoping, Sweden had seen skate before camp opened, unleashed a made-for-YouTube shootout move as good as any since The Paralyzer was in town.
  • Despite playing mostly on the wing so far in his pro career, Andre Burakovsky impressed coaches with his vision and intelligence at the ever-critical center position. 
  • The Capitals #1 defensive prospect, Madison Bowie, accepted the inaugural Future Caps Cup from team owner Ted Leonsis after his team won Saturday's intra-squad scrimmage.

In another year, the performance of any of these young players could have shaped the narrative of how we look at the Caps season moving forward.  But this year, at this Development Camp, the Barry Trotz era took center stage.

Talk the Red's Steven Sullivan reported the events at Kettler all week, and included several noteworthy insights about the new Capitals Head Coach.   The first quote from Trotz in Sullivan's Day 1 Recap was his mantra for the camp:"Earn, never given."  Its a powerful message about hard work and responsibility, but unless the whole organization practices the philosophy behind the phrase, it's just words.

Trotz, for one, took several opportunities to demonstrate that he intends to walk the walk.  As Russian Machine Never Breaks observed, "Barry Trotz wants to turn Caps Development Camp into a more polished affair, with NHL players coming in as mentors and a focus on improving little aspects each player's game."  He took it a step further on day one, spending time teaching the young players the responsibilities a professional has outside the arena.  "We wanna teach them how to be good pros and how important that is, so they can be consistent players on and off the ice," Trotz said.

At his second Caps Development Camp, Madison Bowey seems to be getting the message loud and clear.  In the Day Two installation of his Development Camp Blog on the Capitals website, he wrote:  "We made sure we were doing everything correct so that it transfers onto the ice, and I think it helped a lot of the guys and it helped me. I think it's awesome that we're working on stuff like that."

While the three previous Capitals head coaches all had extensive hockey backgrounds, none had coached at the NHL level.  Trotz can draw on his 15 years of hands-on experience leading a NHL team when it comes to setting the tone of development camp, or building connections with his new team.  In a post by Alex Prewitt on the Washington Post's Capitals Insider blog, Trotz talked about how he plans to approach his new players:

Capitals Head Coach Barry Trotz

Photo Credit: monumentalnetwork.com

"I'm going to have a conversation with Ovi on his role with the group and how I would like to play. We'll decide that together with obviously putting himself in a situation to be successful within the group." 

"To me, coaching is not X's and O's. It's people. He comes from a different culture than the guys from Canada or the States. You find that the Swedish culture is different from the Czech culture. I've got to find out what these guys are about. They've got to know that I'm about winning, I'm about them. When I take over a team, they're a part of my family. That's how I look at them. I'm not always happy with my kids. I tell them, but I still love them and they still play with the group. That's how I approach it."

Standout play from the Capitals high-profile prospects is great to see, but the leadership Trotz demonstrated last week is the real cause for optimism about the team this summer. 

Posted in: Washington Capitals
next up:

Cap Development Camp Recap: Day 4

July 11, 2014

Caps prospects start scrimmages and some are met with some unusual requests.

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