Capitals head coach Barry Trotz says he was wrong about Alex Ovechkin.
Trotz is in his first season with Washington after spending the previous 15 years with the Nashville Predators, leading them to seven playoff appearances. He said earlier in the season that he expected to get “a thousand and one” questions about his relationship with Ovechkin.
"I totally miscast him from afar," Trotz said to USA Today. "Perception is reality, and my perception was all off."
"I call him fearless," Trotz added. "He is not scared of any player in the league. He is not scared of having to play against top players. He is not scared of criticism. He is not scared of accountability. He is not scared of coaching. He is a stand-up guy. He shoulders more of everything than is imaginable. And he does a lot in the community."
Ovechkin leads the NHL in goals with 49 and is third in points with 75. After finishing with a -35 plus/minus rating last season, he has a +9 this season.
Trotz praised the three-time Hart Trophy winner's response to criticism.
"There are a lot of sensitive players in the league, and he's not one of them," Trotz said. "He takes coaching. He's tough. I can be hard on him. I can be up front with him, even in front of his teammates."
With six regular season games remaining, Washington (41-25-10) leads the Eastern Conference Wild Card race with 92 points.
- Scooby Axson