Capitals Fire HC Todd Reirden After 2020 NHL Playoffs Loss to Islanders

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistAugust 23, 2020

Washington Capitals head coach Todd Reirden, center, talks to his team during the third period of Game 7 of an NHL hockey first-round playoff series against the Carolina Hurricanes, Wednesday, April 24, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Nick Wass/Associated Press

Washington Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan announced Sunday head coach Todd Reirdenย was fired after the team's elimination by the New York Islanders in the first round of the NHL's Stanley Cup playoffs on Thursday.

"We have higher expectations for our team, and we felt a fresh approach in leadership was necessary," MacLellan said. "We would like to thank Todd for all of his hard work and efforts with our organization. Todd has been a big part of our team for more than half a decade, including our Stanley Cup run in 2018, and we wish him and his family all the best moving forward."

Reirden was hired by the Caps as an assistant coach in June 2014. He was promoted to head coach in June 2018 after Barry Trotz failed to reach terms with the organization on a contract extension after leading the club to the Stanley Cup.

The 49-year-old former NHL defenseman posted a strong 89-46-16 regular-season record across two seasons leading the Capitals. The team was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs both years, however, with their title defense last season ending at the hands of the Carolina Hurricanes.

This year's elimination came with Trotz leading the Isles, which added sting to the exit.

"For whatever reason, our team wasn't able to mentally and physically get to our game for long enough," Reirdenย told reportersย after the Game 5 loss. "This is not acceptable for our organization."

The Capitals are still built for success in the coming years. Goaltender Braden Holtby, who posted career-worst numbers during the 2019-20 season, is the only significant unrestricted free agent. The others, Ilya Kovalchuk, Radko Gudas and Brenden Dillon, are all replaceable.

Their lack of potential losses combined with the continued presence of a star-studded core, led by Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov and John Carlson, should make the Caps' job highly coveted for top coaching candidates during the offseason.

Meanwhile, Reirden also has experience as an assistant with the Pittsburgh Penguins and NCAA's Bowling Green Falcons since his playing career ended in 2007 and could attract interest for such a role with another team.