Barry Trotz on Alex Ovechkin guarantee: 'I love it'

ByKatie Strang ESPN logo
Wednesday, May 13, 2015

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Some coaches might have shuddered reading the headlines Monday morning, wondering what sort of fallout could come from such brazen proclamation.

Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz did not.

Instead, Trotz endorsed his captain Alex Ovechkin, who made waves Sunday night by guaranteeing a win in Game 7 against the New York Rangers.

"What do you expect a player to say?" Trotz asked, meeting with reporters at the team's training facility Monday morning. "I love that."

Trotz fully backed Ovechkin's outburst of confidence, lauding No. 8's ability to speak up and put his own reputation on the line.

"That's what leaders do," Trotz said. "I think I have a lot more respect for someone who will be bold enough to say, 'I'm the leader of the hockey team, we're going to go there and give our best game and we're going to win the hockey game.' I'd rather have that than a leader [say], 'Well, we're going there to lose.' I mean, come on."

In fact, Trotz said he'd be more concerned had Ovechkin not answered the question so unequivocally.

"That's the mindset you need to have," he said. "If you don't have that, you might as well pack your bags."

Ovechkin's provocative comments came following the Capitals' 4-3 loss to the Rangers in Game 6 at Verizon Center. The Caps fell down 4-1 but rallied with a furious comeback effort in the third.

Ovechkin showed no doubt that the Capitals will advance to the Eastern Conference finals, where they would meet either the Montreal Canadiens orTampa Bay Lightning.

"We're going to come back and win the series," Ovechkin told reporters after the game. "We're going to play our game, and we're going to come back and we're going to play Montreal or Tampa."

Ovechkin's comments, which were less emphatic than former Rangers captain Mark Messier's guarantee before Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals back in 1994, were made after the team squandered its second opportunity to close out the series against the Presidents' Trophy-winning Rangers.

Ovechkin has been held off the score sheet in four consecutive games, and the Capitals have let a 3-1 series lead disappear.

This will be the ninth time in Ovechkin's 11 career playoff series that a Game 7 is required. The Capitals have gone 3-5 in those games so far.

Asked about Ovechkin's postgame comments, Rangers coach Alain Vigneault demurred, telling reporters on a conference call Monday that he was not aware of what Ovechkin said.

"I would expect both players on both teams to want to come in and win," Vigneault said.

The Rangers enter Wednesday's match having erased a 3-1 series deficit just last spring, when they won three straight in their second-round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins to advance to the Eastern Conference finals.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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