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An old friend

by Kevin Wilson / Nashville Predators
MacInnis (Left) and Trotz (Right) back in their junior days in Regina.

When the Hockey Hall of Fame inducts its class of 2007 this weekend in Toronto, it will include an old friend of Predators head coach Barry Trotz. Defenseman Al MacInnis, considered to have one of the hardest shots in NHL history, will attain “legend” status 28 years after rooming with Trotz as a member of the Regina Pat Blues of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.

“Al MacInnis is the same person today as he was as a 16-year-old kid in Regina,” Trotz said. “He has the same respect for the game and has the same approach to the game, and that is giving it his total effort all the time.”

Trotz saw the young MacInnis’ commitment to the game from the very beginning.

“When we went into that season, everyone said he wasn’t quite fast enough,” Trotz said. “But we weren’t far into the season and there was noticeable improvement. We knew then that he had the capability to become a great player.”

While Trotz took the coaching trail, first in Baltimore and Portland of the American Hockey League before coming to Nashville in 1998-99, MacInnis broke into the NHL with the Calgary Flames in 1981-82. He won a Stanley Cup and the Conn Smythe Trophy (playoff MVP) in 1989, then went on to St. Louis, where he collected a Norris Trophy as the league’s best defenseman in 1999.

Despite going their different ways, their paths crossed often – on 26 occasions MacInnis played for the rival Blues with Trotz behind the Nashville bench. Injuries forced him to retire, but MacInnis reemerged within the St. Louis organization prior to the 2006-07 campaign when he was named Vice President of Hockey Operations.

“He is a guy that will continue to learn, and I can see him being a general manager or assistant general manager down the road,” Trotz said. “What I know of Al, he won’t be satisfied being good at what he is doing, he wants to be the best. It doesn’t matter what it is.”
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