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Olympics give goalies chance to paint country all over masks

Be sure to visit NBCOlympics.com and NBC Olympic Talk for full hockey coverage from PyeongChang.

GANGNEUNG, South Korea (AP) — The top of Florence Schelling’s goalie mask looks like a red toque, or boggan, with a gondola climbing the sides over the Matterhorn. A train chugs along the jaw line, while chocolate, cheese and a watch decorate the back.

Then there’s the Swiss cross over the chin and ”SUISSE” across the forehead.

Somewhere else that might be too much. Not for Schelling.

”I’m here to represent Switzerland, so it has to scream Switzerland all over,” Schelling said.

Goaltenders are the only players in Olympic hockey allowed to get truly creative with such things. Their teammates are stuck with helmets featuring basic colors, uniform numbers and a small flag decal representing their country. Goalies decide what they want, then turn to artists who can air-brush their visions onto the hard-plastic helmets used to protect heads from those screaming pucks and wayward sticks.

”Anyone who plays goal, it’s our second Christmas,” said Canadian goalie Ben Scrivens, whose second helmet features a custom black-and-red maple leaf mask for the Olympics.

Playing in the Olympics means representing an entire nation, so International Olympic Committee rules limit exactly what goes on a helmet and anything deemed political, religious or racial propaganda is barred. The IOC tells athletes the rule is intended to keep them focused on their performance, limit commercialization and prevent the games from being used for protests.

All that aside, issues still come up.

There were questions whether changes might be in store for U.S. goalie Nicole Hensley, who has the Statue of Liberty covering the left side of her helmet, or fellow goalie Alex Rigsby, who also has an image of the statue on her helmet. U.S. officials said the masks had been approved and required no modifications.

Others have had to make changes, either to the helmets being worn at the Pyeongchang Games or during the design process. A handful of men’s goalies like Slovenia’s Gasper Kroselj are wearing blank white masks with Pyeongchang 2018 stickers, and goalie Nadezhda Morozova’s helmet is white with red tape across the forehead with the Russians competing only as Olympic athletes from Russia in these games.

Korea goalie Shin So Jung has white tape over a picture of her late father on the back of her helmet, though a beloved late dog remains visible. U.S. men’s goalie Brandon Maxwell wanted to honor former NHL goalie Mike Richter and simply change the New York Rangers to USA. The rules wouldn’t allow that.

”I just kind of wanted to do a little tribute to him, but the IOC’s pretty strict on what goes on the goalie mask, which is fine,” Maxwell said. ”I’m really happy with how mine turned out. I have stars on my pads, so I wanted to stick to kind of a star cluster theme on my mask and throw in some different stripes and colors.”

American goalie David Leggio wanted ”Land of the free, home of the brave” emblazoned on the side of his mask, but that wasn’t allowed. A buffalo to represent Buffalo, New York, was among the ideas he pitched for his helmet.

”You’re a little limited at the Olympics with what you can put on there, what kind of content,” Leggio said. ”We had tried some different stuff that was rejected. I just wanted it to be unique and definitely be patriotic. I think those were the two words I told the designer. I’m really happy with how it came out.”

Leggio does have a feature that could draw the attention of his fellow goalies: Paint on his helmet changes color when the temperature dips below 70 degrees.

”So that was a really nice addition,” Leggio said.

Japanese goalie Nana Fujimoto designed her own helmet using a basic white base to show off Mount Fuji and plum blossoms. Canadian goalie Shannon Szabados’ helmet features the traditional maple leaf, and teammate Ann-Marie Desbiens says she tried to fit as many items from their country onto her helmet as possible.

”As a goalie, we get an amazing opportunity to showcase everything in Canada, so I try to do my best for that,” Desbiens said.

Schelling designed her helmet with fans voting on social media , while Swedish goalie Sara Grahn wanted a yellow handlebar moustache on the right jaw for a little style.

Hensley said U.S. goalie Jessie Vetter had the Statue of Liberty as the centerpiece of her mask at Sochi in 2014 and that they had sent in the design for her helmet.

”As far as I knew, it had been approved, so we put it on there,” Hensley said.

Tossing in the five Olympic rings is another no-no for the IOC that stymied U.S. goalie Ryan Zapolski. So he brainstormed for about a week or so with the artist who painted his mask, mixing in some stars and stripes.

”It’s pretty simple, but I think it goes well with our uniforms and everything, so I just wanted to kind of be simple and not stick out too much,” Zapolski said. ”It’s about this team. It’s not really about me, so I’m happy to have just our team logo on it and the stars and stripes. It’s patriotic, I think, to have that, and hopefully we can do some pretty cool things here.”

AP Sports Writer Stephen Whyno contributed to this report.

 

Follow Teresa M. Walker at http://www.twitter.com/teresamwalker

Contract request led to breakup between Barry Trotz, Capitals

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Barry Trotz’s desire for a big salary raise and five-year extension was the beginning of the end of his tenure with the Washington Capitals.

Trotz, who resigned on Monday after earning a two-year extension that was triggered by the Capitals’ Stanley Cup victory, wanted to be paid as one of the NHL’s top coaches, but the team was hesitant to make that kind of commitment. It was reported that Trotz was earning $1.5 million per season and the new deal would have only increased his salary by $300,000 a year.

The money and the term requested was a little too much for the Capitals.

“There are probably three, four guys that are making that money, so it’s the upper echelon. It’s the big-revenue teams,” Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said, referring to the salaries of coaches like Mike Babcock, Claude Julien and Joel Quenneville.

“I don’t think all teams pay that type of money and years. Certain teams are open to it and the rest of the league isn’t,” he added.

MacLellan described the five-year contract ask as a “sticking point.”

“You have a coach that’s been here four years, you do another five, that nine years,” he said. “There’s not many coaches that have that lasting ability. It’s a long time and it’s a lot of money to be committing to a coach.”

[Barry Trotz steps down as Capitals head coach]

If you look at the Capitals’ head coaching history over the last 16 years, they haven’t gone out of their way to open up the checkbook to pay for a big-name, high-priced coach. Before Trotz arrived in 2014, you had Adam Oates, Dale Hunter, Bruce Boudreau, Glen Hanlon and Bruce Cassidy all getting their first NHL head coaching gigs in D.C.

MacLellan said he was hopeful that both sides could work out a short-term deal, but Trotz clearly wanted security and to rightly use the leverage of a Cup victory to cash in. The GM did note that he accepted Trotz’s resignation so he’s free to pursue offers from other teams to coach next season.

As for where the Capitals go next, Todd Reirden is the front-runner to replace Trotz. Bumped up to “associate coach” in 2016, the organization values him and has been grooming him to become a head coach, either with the franchise or elsewhere. MacLellan said Reirden will get a formal interview.

“We’ll see how the talk goes with him and then we’ll make a decision based on that,” he said. “If it goes well, we’ll pursue Todd. If it doesn’t, then we’ll open it up a little bit.”

MORE:Where does NHL’s coaching carousel stop after Trotz resignation?

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Sean Leahy is a writer forPro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line atphtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Where does NHL’s coaching carousel stop after Trotz resignation?

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The NHL’s coaching carousel is officially in motion after the stunning news from Monday that Barry Trotz is stepping down as head coach of the Washington Capitals less than two weeks after lifting the Stanley Cup.

It leaves a lot of questions to be answered in the coming days and weeks. Let’s get into some of them!

Is the Capitals’ job Todd Reirden’s to lose?

At the start of the playoffs the possibility of Trotz not returning to Washington seemed to be very real, especially given his contract situation.

If the Capitals fell short of winning the Stanley Cup yet again it seemed inevitable that a coaching change was going to be coming.

Then the Capitals went and actually won the Stanley Cup and at that point it seemed inevitable that Trotz was absolutely going to return, especially when general manager Brian MacLellan said right after the Game 5 victory that if Trotz wanted to return, he would. The whole contract extension issue kept getting pushed back, and then Monday’s news broke that winning the Stanley Cup actually kicked in an automatic two-year extension for Trotz — an extension that would have been below market value for a Cup-winning coach.

With the two sides unable to work out a suitable extension, Trotz stepped down creating the new opening.

The obvious answer here is a promotion from within, and they seem to have a replacement already waiting in current assistant coach Todd Reirden.

[Related: Barry Trotz steps down as Capitals head coach]

Reirden has been with the Capitals as an assistant since the 2014-15 season and has been mentioned as a candidate for several head coaching vacancies in recent years, but the Capitals — obviously valuing him as a coach — did not allow him to interview for head coaching vacancies a year ago. In 2016, he was promoted to associate coach.

One thing is for sure, no matter who takes that job would be facing an enormous amount of pressure. You are not only replacing a coach that just finally helped end the organization’s Stanley Cup drought, but the coach that is without question the most successful coach in the history of the franchise. Expectations are going to be through the roof.

What are Trotz’s options?

Now that Trotz is a free agent his situation becomes especially intriguing because as the reigning Stanley Cup winning coach he can pretty much call his shot.

At the moment his options are extremely limited as the New York Islanders are the only team without a head coach. That could be a pretty intriguing job, especially if the Islanders are able to get superstar center John Tavares re-signed before he hits the open market. That is a dynamic offensive team that could have a superstar in Tavares (assuming he re-signs), an emerging star in Mathew Barzal, another 40-goal scorer in Anders Lee, and two other really strong top-six forwards in Josh Bailey and Jordan Eberle. They need to solidify the back end and the disastrous goaltending situation (think about the possibility of a Trotz and Philip Grubauer reunion in Brooklyn!) but there is a lot to work with there.

The Islanders had a bad year, but it is not a situation that is going to require an extensive, lengthy rebuild. With a few tweaks here and there this could be a playoff team this season.

But if that doesn’t appeal to Trotz (or if the Islanders can’t make an agreement work) he is going to have to play the waiting game.

There is always the possibility that another team could see Trotz become available and decide to make a coaching change given the opportunity to add someone of that caliber.

Other than that it might be a waiting game until someone decides to pink slip their coach during the 2018-19 season. There were no coaching changes during the 2017-18 season (almost unheard of in the NHL) but given the availibility of Trotz it is not a stretch to think that a team like St. Louis, Minnesota, or Anaheim could make a change early in the season if things are not going well out of the gate.

The other option: Trotz takes the entire year off and starts fresh in 2019. He would still have the drawing card of being a Stanley Cup winning coach, still be a big name, and still be at the top of almost every “want list” for a team with a vacancy.

Either way, Trotz’s decision on Monday unexpectedly threw the NHL’s coaching carousel into overdrive and it is going to be fascinating to see where it stops.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Barry Trotz steps down as Capitals head coach

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Some massive news from the Stanley Cup champions on Monday as the Washington Capitals announced that Barry Trotz is stepping down as head coach of the team.

“After careful consideration and consultation with my family, I am officially announcing my resignation as Head Coach of the Washington Capitals,” said Trotz in a statement.

“When I came to Washington four years ago we had one goal in mind and that was to bring the Stanley Cup to the nation’s capital. We had an incredible run this season culminating with our players and staff achieving our goal and sharing the excitement with our fans. I would like to thank Mr. Leonsis, Dick Patrick and Brian MacLellan for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this great organization. I would also like to thank our players and staff who worked tirelessly every day to achieve our success.”

At this point you might be thinking to yourself, “wasn’t Trotz a free agent after this season with an expiring contract? What exactly is he stepping down from?” 

Well, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman that was going to be true had the Capitals not won the Stanley Cup. But Trotz’s contract had a clause in it that kicked in an automatic two-year extension if the Capitals won the Cup, which they obviously did earlier this month when they defeated the Vegas Golden Knights in five games. According to Friedman the extension was for below the market value given the exploding market for coaching contracts in the NHL.

TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that it was a $300,000 raise that would have brought his contract value to $1.8 million per year.

The two sides attempted to negotiate a new extension but could not come to terms.

Now that Trotz has resigned, the Capitals will grant permission to any team that wishes to hire Trotz, essentially making him a free agent.

Other than the Capitals, the only other team in the NHL without a head coach at the moment is the New York Islanders and it would be absolutely shocking if they did not have some serious interest in hiring him.

The last two coaches to leave a Stanley Cup champion the year after winning were Scotty Bowman when he retired following the Detroit Red Wings’ win in 2002 and Mike Keenan following the New York Rangers’ win in 1994.

During Trotz’s four years with the team the Capitals won the Stanley Cup, two Presidents’ Trophies, and compiled a 205-89-34 record. No other team in the NHL won more than 192 games during that stretch.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Report: Ryane Clowe to join ECHL’s Newfoundland Growlers as head coach

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The Newfoundland Growlers will be the ECHL’s newest team for the 2018-19 season. They have a pretty sweet logo and now have their first head coach.

According to The Telegram, the Growlers are set to name former NHLer Ryane Clowe as head coach this week. Clowe has spent the last two seasons as one of John Hynes’ assistants with the New Jersey Devils.

Last week, the Growlers announced an affiliation agreement with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The 35-year-old Clowe, who saw his career end due to concussions, last played in the 2014-15 season, but got his first taste of coaching during the 2012 NHL lockout. After joining up with the ECHL’s now-defunct San Francisco Bulls to skate with the team, he found himself helping out behind the bench during games. That’s when the door opened to a post-playing career.

“It kind of opened my eyes to something maybe after (I finished playing) that I was thinking about possibly doing,” Clowe told Kevin Kurz of The Athletic earlier this season. “I was like, you know what, this is something I really enjoyed when I was behind (the bench). It’s not playing, but it’s kind of second-best. 

“I would have liked to go on longer (as a player), but to get in on an NHL staff right away and now be behind the bench is fortunate.”

During his two years on Hynes’ staff, Clowe was actually still under contract with the Devils as the five-year deal he signed with the team in 2013 finally expires on July 1. He did some scouting for the team in 2015-16, but coaching was the area he found he really wanted to dive into.

“Once I got into coaching, I knew that was where I wanted to be,” Clowe told The Telegram last summer. “And I know that if I get out, not only is it hard getting back in, but I’d likely have to start at the bottom.”

Now Clowe gets to be part of an organization starting from scratch and use the experience he gained from the past two years in New Jersey to get the Growlers off to a good start in their inaugural season.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.