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Catching Up with Coach Trotz

by Jay Levin / Nashville Predators
Fresh off his experience at the NHL Awards Show in Las Vegas, sat down with Predators Head Coach Barry Trotz during this year's NHL Draft to discuss the Awards Show, the team's recent trades, newly acquired players, and how he sees the team shaping up for 2010-11. Congratulations again on the nomination for the Jack Adams. How was the experience out in Las Vegas at the awards show this year?
Barry Trotz: It was a great experience; just to be around all the people that were the best in our sport last year is very fulfilling. Las Vegas is a vibrant town and there is a lot going on; the event was really well done. It was my first time in Vegas and I took my wife and it was a really exciting time for both of us. Obviously, I got to meet with some good friends. Dave Tippet is a good friend of mine and won the Jack Adams – deservedly so. I think I actually voted for him. I just thought he did a terrific job with the Coyotes. I got to know (Colorado Head Coach) Joe Sacco a little bit. Before the trip I didn't know him very well and I got to know him, his wife, and his family. Is there anything that stood out or surprised you from the awards show? Anything you weren't quite expecting?
Trotz: No, no not really. Probably the thing that I was most nervous about was not necessarily the award at all or the show or those types of things. It was actually when I played some Texas' Hold ‘Em poker for charity. I was able to raise $5,000 for charities and it was great meeting some of those poker pros and some of the celebrities that were involved with it. It was pretty good; a real good event. I would do it again if they asked me. I had a lot of fun. Moving on to some Nashville Predators news. Since we last talked to you there has been a couple player trades. What is your initial reaction to the Hamhuis trade, the return of Parent and some of those happenings?
Trotz: Well I think obviously you know the Predator nation never wanted to lose Danny Hamhuis, but in terms of making everything fit, in terms of where we were going as a hockey team, his salary expectations, and what we were able to produce, it wasn't going to happen. David (Poile) tried to work things around, talk to his agent, and keep it alive. At a point, Danny was probably relegated to be going into free agency. I thought it was a great move by David to get a defenseman in return because we knew a week from then Dan Hamhuis was going to be a free agent and he might not necessarily sign with Philadelphia. Getting Ryan Parent, a good young defenseman who we actually drafted, who is Nashville Predator cloth – if you will – in return I thought it was a real good move. I thought it solidified us there.

Obviously, signing Francis Bouillon for some veteran leadership and also some veteran presence back there, I think was a really good move on our part – solidifying the back end after losing someone like Danny. And then the Jason Arnott deal was a little bit of a surprise but not a total surprise. I know Jason was looking to extend beyond this year in the league and also with the Predators. He, David, and his agent had talks and at a point it started looking like he wasn't going to get extended and Jason said, “You know, maybe I can go somewhere else and get that opportunity to play past next year and do that with an organization” so I believe David started calling around with the permission of Jason and his agent and he ended up in New Jersey, where I know he's going to love it. He's been there, he's won a Stanley Cup there, and he's got friends there, so I think its a situation where you know we’re going to miss Jason in the middle but its also an opportunity to put Colin Wilson in the middle where he's going to be a big body in the middle – unless we do something in free agency or a trade. That's probably where it will have to go at this point. I think we will be okay. I think our young players have matured to the point where they can produce in this league and I thought Colin, for a guy that's probably going to fill that role, did a really good job when he came back for the second time and solidified a spot on our hockey team. Colin Wilson had some his best success as a wing, is there any concern moving him back?
Trotz: Well there is going to be a little bit of a learning curve, especially going to the middle again. One of the things he got sent down for in the first place is that I felt that he needed some grooming in the defensive end of the game, especially early on. So from our standpoint, I think that you know there will be a little bit of a learning curve but that's what the preseason and training camp are all about. Does it open the door maybe for Cal O'Reilly?
Trotz: I think right now at center ice it really does open the door for Cal O'Reilly to be a factor at center for us. Absolutely, I think we’re going to need some offensive production. Arny (Jason Arnott) had 18 goals this year; it wasn't his best year but 18 goals is pretty good for our hockey club and someone is going to have to fill that void. From a leadership standpoint, does it help that some of the young guys seem to take on more of a role as the season went on?
Trotz: Yeah, I think as the season went on. We did a lot of work last summer trying to develop our secondary leadership – not necessarily just Jason Arnott, Steve Sullivan and JP Dumont, all of our guys. It was getting that second core group to buy into being the up-and-coming leaders, and not just stand behind the leader. That's Martin Erat, Legwand, Suter, Shea Weber – that group. I think that translated a little bit as the season went on and I think I was pretty vocal with my comments and I felt that our team was taking on a personality of that secondary role of captains and now they are going to have to be primary role captains. On the defensive end, does it help that you guys have a little bit of experience with Ryan Parent? Does that maybe help you as you plan for next season?
Trotz: Having had Ryan and knowing what he is capable of and getting to watch him will make it real easy. I think it's going to make it really beneficial for him. He had a real tough year; he had some back surgery and he wasn't at 100 percent and he didn't play that way. I think confidence-wise in Philly, he lost his spot there and lost his confidence there so he's coming to a new organization, in a sense, with a fresh start, with an organization that really understands him and knows him and never wanted to lose him in the first place. From that standpoint, I think that it's a really good situation for him to regain his confidence in his game.
Matt Halischuk, what do you know about him?
Trotz: From everything I have heard from people that have played against him or with him, he is a Predator-type of player. He's got a real good work ethic; he's gritty, a little bit undersized for the wing but has some good skills and the ability to put up some totals. He's had some trouble staying healthy but that's probably because he plays so hard all the time.
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