Trotz enjoys return to his Manitoba roots with Cup
Former Capitals coach meets with Dauphin residents, raises money for local charitiesby Nicholas J. Cotsonika @cotsonika / NHL.com Columnist
DAUPHIN, Manitoba -- Barry Trotz spent two nights in a backyard gazebo at his parents' house this week, autographing 8-by-10 photos of himself hoisting the Stanley Cup as the coach of the Washington Capitals.
He must have signed 2,000, his cousin Mark Odut said. His hand was sore, his father, Ernie Trotz, said. But he had a reason, and it speaks to Trotz, what this place means to him and what he means to it.
"I was just thinking of how we could make sure that everybody gets a chance to see the Cup," Trotz said.
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Trotz chose to spend his day with the Cup in Dauphin, a town of 8,500 four hours northwest of Winnipeg. He was born in Winnipeg, but when he was 5, his father was transferred here as a mechanic for the Canadian National Railway.
This is where he skated outdoors and in the Dauphin Minor Hockey Association. This is where he played his last season of junior, captaining the Dauphin Kings to the Manitoba Junior Hockey League title and the Avanet Cup between the MJHL and the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League in 1982-83.
This is where he got his start as a head coach, taking over the Kings at 23 in 1985-86, making $1,000 a month, living with his parents, and selling suits on the side. Funny to look back on that now that he's the coach of the New York Islanders, a Cup champion, a Jack Adams Award winner and fifth in NHL history with 762 wins, eh?
"It doesn't make any sense, does it?" Trotz said. "It really doesn't."
This is where family and friends still live, where his father still walks to the rink and sells 50/50 raffle tickets at Dauphin games, as he did when Trotz was a player and a coach.
"This is home," Trotz said. "This is where I learned to love the game. This is where I grew up in the first part of my life, in the young years. In some ways, it's progressed and it's going in the right direction, but it's got some of those very small-town qualities that have seemingly disappeared in society. It's got a good balance right now."
Think Dauphin is proud?
Trotz grew up on Fifth Avenue Southeast -- at the address 132, then at 231 where his parents still live -- and the town renamed the street Barry Trotz Way.
"I wouldn't forget it," his father said with a laugh. "When I'm going home, I wouldn't miss it."
At the Parkland Source for Sports downtown, a rack of Islanders shirts sits in front, under a Capitals Stanley Cup champions flag.
"We had lots of Washington Capitals stuff, but it's gone," store employee Kylie Talbot said.
After Trotz took the Cup to special-needs people, senior citizens and hospital patients on Wednesday morning, he rode down Main Street in a parade in the afternoon. He passed signs like "HOT FOR TROTZ" and "Congratulations Barry For Bringing Stanley Cup To Our Dauphin." This being the home of the National Ukrainian Festival, he was guarded by Cossacks riding horses and blasting guns.
The parade ended at Credit Union Place, the arena that opened in 2006 on the grounds of the one where Trotz played and coached. Mayor Allen Dowhan declared this Barry Trotz Day and handed Trotz an oversized check for $2,000.
Dowhan had a bet on the Stanley Cup Final with Mayor Bill Martin of Summerside, Prince Edward Island, hometown of Vegas Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant.
Martin paid up in 100 pounds of lobster, and the Dauphin Rotary Club sold out of it in three hours.
The money will be added to the money raised Wednesday. Photos with Trotz and the Cup cost $2. Combo meals of a hot dog, chips and a drink cost $5. There was a 50/50 raffle, a memorabilia raffle and a $1,000-a-head meet-and-greet for 40 people. Trotz will match the total up to $75,000 and decide how the funds will be distributed to local causes.
"I think it gives an example to our youth that, yeah, you can go out and make good, but don't forget about your roots," Dowhan said. "I really appreciate it, and he's just a genuine guy."
Trotz had only four hours to share the Cup with the general public. Yes, only. The line stretched from the center of the rink, out the doors and around the arena, and it stayed that way virtually the entire time.
But that's why Trotz signed those photos beforehand.
Instead of looking down and signing, he could keep the line moving and engage with as many people as possible, saying hi, shaking hands, encouraging people to touch and even hug the Cup, jumping in and out of pictures, handing out the 8-by-10s as souvenirs.
When he ran out of time and there were still people outside, he took the Cup to them, walking slowly in the crowd, holding it over his head, letting people touch it. Odut walked behind him handing out what was left of the 8-by-10s.
"It feels great," Trotz said. "I think I get energy from this type of thing. You saw me. I was probably better in my last hour than I was in my first hour. I think there's good positive energy, and if you have good positive energy, which this town has, especially today, it just rubs off."