Friday is going to seem so very strange to many of us.
Barry Trotz will be at Bridgestone Arena, but he (along with Lane Lambert and Mitch Korn) will be working the bench of the Washington Capitals, not the Nashville Predators.
Through 15 seasons, 1,196 regular season and another 50 playoff games, Trotz was the Predators original coach, hired in 1997.
I had first run into him during my radio play-by-play time with the Buffalo Sabres. The Sabres had closed out their final season (1995-96) playing in their original home, the Aud. They didn’t make the playoffs that year, but their American League farm club, the Rochester Americans did.
In the 1996 Calder Cup Final, the Americans faced the Portland Pirates, coached by – Barry Trotz. Trotz had won the Cup for Portland in 1994. But this time, he would be the disappointed one in the handshake line, as he congratulated John Tortorella on Rochester’s win.
Two years later, I was in Southern California in late January as the Los Angeles Kings flew me in to honor my former broadcast partner, Bob Miller, then celebrating 25 years (and still going strong to this day) as voice of the Kings. After being in awe at being on the ice with Bob, Los Angeles Lakers legend Chick Hearn and Los Angeles Dodgers Voice Vin Scully, I had credentials for the Ducks versus Blackhawks game the next night.
So, I take my seat in the press box next to a scout for the soon-to-be Nashville Predators. His name? Barry Trotz. That night, Chicago’s Gary Suter crosschecked Paul Kariya in the head, knocking Kariya out of the 1998 Nagano Olympics. Little did I know that within a few months, I would be working with Barry Trotz in Nashville.
Or that seven years later, Paul Kariya would join the Predators.
Barry and I had many pregame visits over the years, including this one, after game one in Japan to begin the 2000-2001 season against the Penguins:
The memories are many, from all aspects of the time on the road, where you really get to know each other. I have been blessed in my broadcasting career to work with so many great people in the coaching/managing role. They include Marv Levy, Lenny Wilkens, Pat Riley, Scotty Bowman, Terry Collins and Del Crandall. Barry Trotz is a special person.
If you hadn’t realized it before, it all came out in one of the most emotional news conferences I have ever attended, last April 14 at Bridgestone Arena.
If you thought Predators General Manager David Poile was emotional as he went over the dismissal of his friend, give a good listen to the first portion of Trotz’s statement:
Friday’s game with the Washington Capitals will carry all of that emotion, and perhaps more. Trotz told reporters earlier in the week, the transition to Washington for him, and for Peter Laviolette to the Predators, has been a “win-win” for both sides.
It’s hard to argue that. This has been the most successful Predators season ever to this point, and the Capitals have straightened things out defensively, as we would have expected.
Let’s get the puck dropped already!