The NHL offseason has been about as cold as ice so far. Aside from Matt Hoffman being traded twice in a week, there hasn’t been much news or movement on the NHL markets. At least, that’s as far as the players are concerned.
The coach of the reigning Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals Barry Trotz resigned from his post after extension talks stalled. Trotz had been with the Capitals for the last 4 seasons and is the only Caps head coach to have a Playoff Win% above .500. Think about that for a second. In the Capitals entire 44 years history, only one coach has won more than half the playoff games they’ve coached. With numbers like that you’re gonna keep him at all cost right?
Barry Trotz had a clause in his contract where if he won the Stanley Cup he could accept a two-year extension with a $300k bump in salary. Obviously since he was only making $1.5M, low by today's NHL coach's standards, a $1.8-million salary doesn't cut it. So Trotz stepped down.
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) June 18, 2018
The Capitals instead haggled with Trotz over a $300K pay bump, bringing his 2018-19 salary to $2 million. Where does $1.8 million dollars fall on the spectrum of NHL coaching salaries? The answer is surprising.
It ranks very low.
For a coach with as much success as Trotz, he should be making much more than what he was being paid. Other coaches of Trotz’ ilk are making significantly more than the Stanly Cup Champion. Joe Quenneville, who lead the Chicago Blackhawks to 3 Stanley Cups in 2010, 2013 and 2015, received a 3-year extension in 2016 to the tune of $18 million, broke down to $6 million a year.
Mike Babcock was brought in to save the failing Toronto Maple Leafs and got an 8-year, $50 million dollar contract to do it. The Canadian Olympic coach and former Detroit Red Wings shot caller’s contract averages out to $6.25 million a year.
It should be noted that since the ink on their contracts has dried, neither Quenneville nor Babcock have reached or won the Stanley Cup Finals.
The very interesting thing about those two salaries is that we actually know them. NHL coaches rarely have their salaries known by the general public or the press.
If you take a look at CapFriendly.com, you’ll find that 18 of the 31 NHL teams have their head coach’s salary listed. That’s not a mistake, that’s the norm. Out of the four major sports, the NHL is the only sport to keep their coaching salaries private. If you don’t believe me here are the NBA, MLB and NFL coaching salaries. See the problem?
The other interesting thing of note is how many of these coaches are at the $2 million mark or higher, which is where Trotz was fighting to earn. Out of the 13 salaries that we know of 4 were below $2 million a year. The remaining 9 coaches have won 1 Stanely Cup amongst them, which is the same number of Cups that Trotz has.
Did Barry Trotz deserve to get a pay bump to over $2 million a year? Yes, absolutely. Did the New York Islanders give him a contract worth more than Washington was offering? FOR SURE.
And that’s why he took their head coach job.
Barry Trotz left a lot behind in Washington. He left a team he helped mold, a once in a lifetime superstar in Alexander Ovechkin, and his home for the last 4 years. I don’t think he did all of that for himself. I think he did that for his fellow coaches.
If Trotz were to accept Washington’s offer of $1.5 million, mere weeks after bringing home their first Stanely Cup, the rest of the NHL head coaching market takes a hit. Gone are the days of Quenneville, Babcock and Claude Julien’s $5M+ contracts. Instead, NHL teams are going to undercut coaches based off of Trotz’s market value as a Stanley Cup coach. They can do that because we never truly know what a coach is making. The market is invisible.
Not anymore, thanks to Barry Trotz.
By calling out the Capitals, Trotz put his worth on the line and changed the way NHL coaching salaries are determined. Most of all, by making this public, Trotz has changed the way the public and the press perceive coaching salaries.
In the American sporting world, we take value and contract numbers very seriously. A player’s worth or a coach’s value is determined by their in-game performance. Barry Trotz has shown a light on the heinous hidden treachery that is contract negotiating for NHL coaches.
Trotz took a bullet for his colleagues, and he should be praised for his resignation. The Capitals, on the other hand, need to take a long hard look in the mirror and figure out how they’ll go on with Barry Trotz, Stanley Cup winner.