Barry Trotz – the Nashville Predators only head coach since entering the League in 1998 – collected his 432nd career win last time out, moving him past Hall-of-Famer Dick Irvin’s total with the Montreal Canadiens (431 wins from 1940-55) and into sixth on the all-time wins with one team list. He also ranks fifth in games coached with a single team. Recently, we caught a few minutes of “Trotzy’s” time to talk all things at – and away from –the rink.
I knew I wanted to be a coach when… I think I wanted to be a coach when I realized that I couldn’t play anymore. I hurt my back in my early 20s when I played at the University of Manitoba. It was getting more and more difficult to play and it got to a point where I had trouble walking. At that point, I “retired” from playing hockey and took some time off to get myself together. While I was I away, I really missed the game and Wayne Fleming, who was my coach at the time (and current assistant coach with the Tampa Bay Lightning), asked me if I would come on as an assistant coach. There is nothing better than playing, but Wayne opened the door to the next best thing, which is coaching.
For relaxation, I… Not a lot honestly. Being at home with my family really relaxes me because I’m not in my game routine. However, on my days off I don’t get a lot of rest. I have kids and all those little things that take up my time. So my days are usually consumed with going out with my kids, cleaning up around the house, taking the dog for a walk and the honey-do lists. Even though it doesn’t sounds relaxing, it is because I’m away from the mental grind of trying to win hockey games.
The only time I think I truly get to relax is over the summer. We head up to our lake house in British Columbia for a few weeks. That is when I really wind-down and start to recharge my batteries.
I can’t live without… Conflict. [Laughs]. On a day-to-day basis, I need interaction with other people.
I’m up and at’em by… I’m usually up around 6 a.m. but it varies from day-to-day.
Every morning, I read… I don’t read anything in the morning. As soon as I get up and get situated, I’m on my way to the rink.
That is another thing I can’t live without going back to your other question – I can’t live without a shower in the morning. It really helps me wake up and get the body going.
Once I get into the rink, I change and get some notes up for the guys. Then I eat a quick breakfast and start getting ready for the day’s events.
My favorite player growing up was… Bobby Orr is by far my favorite player and the one guy I always followed. I used to wear number four as a player growing up as well. Actually, four has become a big number for luck in my life. I have four children and a lot of things I do somehow always involve the number four.
The best moment of my coaching career so far… I think the best moment for me was the first time I ever stepped on the bench here in Nashville. It’s just like a player’s first NHL game; it will always hold a special place for me.
If I could be a coach in a different professional sports league it would be… The National Football League for sure. I like fact that there are a lot of tactics and strategy involved in football. I don’t know if the game would be quick enough for me but it is a very intriguing sport. I really enjoy watching the different shows out there that break down the X’s and O’s of football.
Player I would choose if I was starting a team from scratch, today… Without a doubt, it would be Sidney Crosby. To me, he is the total package. Not only is he an ambassador of the game on-and-off of the ice, but he is a great player when he’s on the ice. His level of commitment to the game and to being as good as he is with the demands that placed on him to me is extraordinary. There is no question he would be the guy.
The one former player I would deal for, no matter the price, is… Scott Niedermayer is one of the guys I would go after. He controlled the whole game when he was on the ice. To me, when he was in his prime, he was one of the hardest players I have ever coached against.
I long road trips, I enjoy… On long road trips we always have some days off, so I like to find something that I don’t get to do a lot back at home. I like to try to find comedy clubs or something along those lines. One year, we went to a taping of Jimmy Kimmel Live. We are in a very privileged position as a professional sports team because there are certain doors that will open to allow us to do some special things on the road. I really try to take advantage of those opportunities when they are afforded to us. One example that comes to mind is we got to visit NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) when we were in Colorado one year. That was a really cool experience for me.
The worst job I ever had was… I would say I never really had any bad jobs. I will say that the toughest job I had growing up was working with my dad at the railroad. I worked on what was called an extra-gang. My job was to pound spikes, carry railroad ties, dig holes and other tough manual-labor jobs. The worst part was we walked 10 feet behind what they call a Tamper. It was a big maintenance railroad engine that hauled all of our equipment. So the whole time we were working, the engine exhaust was blowing in our faces. It could be 95 degrees outside and that hot air made it feel like 200 degrees while you’re carrying ties and pounding spikes; it made for some long days. It was a very demanding job and we worked from four in the morning until four in the afternoon most days. That job helped me build a good work ethic and it taught me a lot of discipline, and it paid pretty well too for a 16-year-old kid.