There's a reason Barry Trotz
hasn't changed his style of coaching in 10-plus seasons as the head coach of the Nashville Predators
"The players just want to win for him," Predators forward Martin Erat
told NHL.com. "And, really, that's how it's always been."
Erat would know. He's been mentored by Trotz, the League's second-longest tenured coach, the last eight seasons. Trotz owns the second-most wins (396) among active coaches with their current team and is one of 18 coaches to win 300 games with a single team.
"I like the calmness, because we always have so many young kids on the roster entering each season," Erat said. "Some of the guys in the locker room might say 'He's too young to play, what are you doing?' And he'll never yell but says 'This is your job and you have to do it.' And we all try to bring our 'A' game."
Nashville missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in five seasons in 2008-09, but he's determined to get back to the big show and, perhaps, earn the Predators' first playoff series triumph in franchise history this spring.
In the meantime, however, Trotz is very much looking forward to the 2010 Winter Olympics. Trotz knows all about international competition and the pressure Team Canada will face playing at home this month. In 2003, he served as an assistant coach for Canada's gold-medal winning team at the World Championships in Finland. He also was an assistant in the '02 World Championships and the silver-medal winning '09 World Championship Canadian Team in Switzerland.
Trotz took some time to sit down with NHL.com during his club's recent East Coast swing to discuss the Olympics.
NHL.com: How much pressure is on Team Canada to win the gold?
Trotz: "I think there's a tremendous amount of pressure. I remember being at the World Championships and how much pressure there was on Team Canada -- if they don't win gold, it's death. That's what it is. I can't imagine being on the biggest stage in the world, in Canada, and I just think there's going to be tremendous pressure. Now, if they can come through, it'll be great but there's going to be pressure on them, no question."
NHL.com: In 2003, what was the feeling like to win a gold medal as assistant coach for Team Canada in the World Championships?
Trotz: "It was fantastic. Winning the World Championships was great. I couldn't imagine what winning the Stanley Cup would be like, but winning the World Championships was really special because I won some things in minor leagues and those types of things, but this is a different level. For once, you're the best in the world at something and that's a pretty great feeling."
NHL.com: Could you break down the Olympic tournament?
Trotz: "The team I think everyone is forgetting about is Sweden. I think Team Russia and Canada are there, and the U.S. could be a little bit of a sleeper because they're young and expectations on them are a little less. Another sleeper could be the Czechs -- they always play very well in these tournaments and no one really talks about them. To me the Swedes and the Czechs are the two sleepers that no one talks about. Canada and Russia are considered to be the two dynamic teams and probably deservedly so. The Russians have so much skill and those dynamic forwards and obviously Canada has so much depth."
NHL.com: Do you feel people may overlook Slovakia?
Trotz: I don't think they're deep enough in their goaltending to hold up in this tournament.
NHL.com: Is there anything you can tell us about Olympians Martin Erat (Czech Republic), Shea Weber (Team Canada) and Ryan Suter (Team USA) that fans don't know?
Trotz: "Well, 'Sutes' makes us laugh because he's a farm kid and owns a tractor and has a farm. But when we ask him if and when he farms, he never really gives us an answer so we figure he just drives around all summer on a tractor. I know 'Webs' is just as intense in the off-season as he is during the season, in terms of his workouts. I know that's nothing revealing but he does like to have fun, but is as focused an individual as you'll ever meet. And Marty absolutely loves soccer; he loves the World Cup soccer and I think he's even going to South Africa this year to watch some of that. He's a big-time soccer and tennis fan -- he knows everything about it."
NHL.com: Any particular story line at the Olympic Games that intrigues you most -- whether it's related to ice hockey or not?
Trotz: "Obviously the ice hockey is primary, but I really like some of the speed-skating events -- it's so fast. That's the one sport I tend to flip to, in addition to hockey. I don't know why? I also love watching the ski-jumping. My sister lives in Calgary and I've seen the hill they used for the Calgary Olympics (in 1988). To jump off of that, I have no idea what's going through their head. It's just amazing to me."
NHL.com: Which teams will be playing in the gold-medal game in Vancouver?
Trotz: "I'd probably say Team Canada against Team Russia. It'll be a classic. Just like it always is."
Contact Mike Morreale at email@example.com