Given the nature of the coaching business, making it to the top 10 on any list is quite an accomplishment.
Dauphin’s Barry Trotz, head coach of the NHL’s Washington Capitals, recently made it into the top 10 on two longevity lists.
He cracked the top 10 for most regular season games coached in the NHL and Washington’s next win will give Trotz 621 in his career, moving him ahead of Bryan Murray and into sole possession of 10th place.
Trotz and the Capitals were in Winnipeg Saturday, where they lost 2-1 in overtime to the Jets.
Prior to the game, Trotz had a chance to meet and talk with a group of Timbits players, who put their talents on display during the first intermission. Following that meeting Trotz said he is not big on personal accomplishments.
“It feels a little bit awkward when someone says, ‘hey, you just passed Jacques Lemaire or Bryan Murray,’ people who I have the utmost respect for in the game and admired growing up. When I first started coaching, guys that had helped me along in different situations,” he said.
“You start passing those people, it feels a little surreal. I always say, I feel like I’m the guy that put their face in a team picture. I guess when I’m all said and done coaching, I can probably look back and say, ‘that’s pretty cool.’ I was pretty fortunate to work for great people who allowed me to coach for a long time and had my back when we went through some tough times.”
Trotz specifically mentioned David Poile, who worked with Trotz in Washington’s organization and hired him as the first coach of the Nashville Predators.
When Trotz was first hired in Nashville, he just wanted to coach in the NHL for a year just to see what it was like. Being a rookie coach of an expansion team in a non-traditional market, Trotz knew the Predators were not going to be very good in their first season.
“I was just trying to get through the first year and see if we could make a statement and show what (I) could do as a leader of a team,” he said.
A key to his success is Trotz always hired strong people with good hockey knowledge and passion for the game.
“I think that’s the key of my success, is I surround myself with even better people.”
Trotz feels his ability to adapt to the game has contributed to his longevity, not just the game on the ice, but adapting to the different age groups.
“When I started I was more of the same age as the players. And then now that I’ve gotten older, they’re further from that,” he said.
“So being able to adapt and understand the changes in the game and changes in culture probably more than anything. That’s probably what I would say I’ve been able to do more than anything.”
When reminiscing about his days playing minor hockey in Dauphin, Trotz said he used to skate at the old outdoor rink.
“We would get the odd game in the DMCC, the old wooden rink back then. I just enjoyed playing the game,” he said.
Trotz remembers a lot of the coaches he had growing up.
“Murray Penrose was one of my coaches and I always looked forward to that. Arnie Staub was always involved in all my hockey and baseball growing up. He was one of the coaches who always coached the kids,” he said. “And Metro Stan. Those were all good people that were a lot of my coaches. And I’m probably forgetting some that I had.”
Growing up Trotz attended Butch Goring and Ron Low’s hockey school. At one point, all three of the former Kings were coaching in the NHL.
“I always thought it was pretty neat that, at one point, Butch was coaching the Islanders and Ronny was coaching the Oilers and I was coaching Nashville, There was three guys from one little town that were coaching in the National Hockey League. The odds were pretty slim,” he said. “And I remember going to their hockey school. And now we laugh about it.”
Like many young kids, Trotz idolized the players he watched skating for the Dauphin Kings. “Growing up I always wanted to be Don Larway or Ron Low or Jim Misener, all those old names. Jimmy Cruise. Just great Dauphin Kings over the years. Blaine Stoughton, the Lemieux boys, were all good players,” he said.
“It was part of growing up. And obviously, it was a big part of my life. I always wanted to be an NHL player, but I wasn’t good enough. And I ended up, through an injury, getting into coaching. And it’s worked out.”
Trotz said team sports is a good way to keep children out of trouble. And it is great bonding for families.
“The moms don’t get enough credit for driving their kids to hockey games. We always talk about the hockey dads, but the hockey moms are really the glue of a lot of things,” he said.
“They’re the organizers, they’re the ones that make sure there’s food and drink and the equipment is there.
“I had the same experience as all these kids are having. It’s just a good sport and they’re very fortunate they have really good facilities in Dauphin now.”