By his own admission, Barry Trotz is an emotional man.
“I’m a softie when it comes to – I’ll cry during watching ‘The Notebook’ on TV when it’s on,” the Islanders coach said.
But he believes he will be able to keep those emotions in check Friday night when he returns to Washington and Capital One Arena for the first time since winning the Stanley Cup with the Capitals last June.
“I think I’ll be OK, but I appreciate the organization, the fans and all the support people around them,” Trotz said Thursday before the Islanders hosted the Devils at the Coliseum in the first half of a back-to-back.
Trotz was noticeably absent from the video the Capitals played during their banner-raising ceremony in October but will be honored with a video tribute Friday — the first time he has coached in the arena since Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final. He said he hoped assistant coach Lane Lambert and director of goaltending Mitch Korn, who came with him to the Islanders, would be included in the tribute as well.
In four years with the Capitals, Trotz went 328-205-89 while delivering the franchise its first Stanley Cup.
“I wasn’t there that long, so I’m a little bit surprised that they would do that,” Trotz said. “But I am thankful and appreciative of that.”
Capitals goalie Braden Holtby said the tribute video would be well-earned for Trotz, Lambert and Korn.
“It means a lot to us for them to get the right kind of treatment,” Holtby told reporters in Washington.
Three days after Trotz resigned from his post with the Capitals in June, unable to reach an agreement on the financials of a new contract, he was hired to coach the Islanders. The quick turnaround left him little time to say all of his goodbyes, in a busy summer that included his daughter’s wedding, spending time with the Stanley Cup, moving to Long Island, filling out his staff and getting up to speed on his new team. He still has his house in the D.C. area and was last there in August.
Trotz said he felt he got his closure in November, when the Capitals played at Barclays Center. He went into their room before the game, along with Lambert and Korn, and got his ring before giving a brief speech.
“You’ll have to go through the f—king Island, OK? But you guys can do it again,” Trotz said.
He could be right. If the season had ended before Thursday’s games, the Islanders and Capitals would meet in the first round of the playoffs.
Entering their third meeting with the Devils, the Islanders were just three points out of first place in the Metropolitan Division, a rise up the standings due in large part to Trotz’s presence behind the bench.
“It’s crazy to think that this team is [three] points out of first place,” Mathew Barzal said. “Now that we’re halfway through, people kind of have to take us for real. It’s not just 10 games in now. We’re  games in. … [Trotz and his staff have] just turned things around, the habits and professionalism.”
With the game against the Capitals being the second half of a back-to-back, Trotz said he wouldn’t get to see everyone. But he was looking forward to seeing the people he grew to know in his time there, from arena workers to support staff.
“They all became very close,” Trotz said. “They have some wonderful people there. To be able to say some goodbyes to people I never got a chance to – from that standpoint, it’ll be real nice.”