DETROIT - Barry Trotz is in his 17th season behind an NHL bench and has coached in 1,360 games during his NHL career. Game 1,361 will most likely be his last game coaching at Joe Louis Arena.
Trotz spent 15 years as Nashville's head coach and he shared his memories of the Joe with reporters before his Washington Capitals faced off against the Red Wings Saturday afternoon at the Joe.
"Good and bad," was how Trotz summed up memories of the Joe. "The first five years in Nashville, they were in their heydays. You looked across their bench and there is Scotty Bowman and eight or nine Hall of Famers sitting there and we're starting up sort of an expansion team just trying to find our way there."
In the early stages of his coaching career, Trotz always thought that playing the Wings, especially at the Joe, benefited his team.
"It was the excellence of the Red Wings and their consistency level that helped us grow in Nashville to be a better team," said Trotz. "They forced you to become a better team every time you came into this building. You knew they were going to get a lot of shots."
As a matter of fact, Trotz recalled one time when Nashville became competitive, his team hit the 45-shot mark and despite having 10-12 more shots, the shots mysteriously never registered on the shot clock.
"There was always a couple of thing I remember," said Trotz. "During one of the playoff series the octopus came onto the ice and Jordin Tootoo, went over there and grabbed it. We had our own garbage can and picked it up before Al (Sobotka) could get to it and wave it around and get the fans all wound up.
"I remember how quiet, it was like, 'Hey, hey, what's going on?' There are some good memories, but there were some tough nights in here because they could overwhelm you. There are a lot of good memories here. There is a lot of winning that has gone on here. I remember coming in here saying, "We got to go to the Joe, again!" Because we were just starting out, it made us better."
What is the one thing that Trotz will not miss at Joe Louis Arena?
"I won't miss the horn because there a lot of goals scored against us over the years," Trotz said without hesitation.
GREEN OUT: Wings defenseman Mike Green was a late scratch due to illness.
Ryan Sproul took his spot in the lineup.
ERICSSON UPDATE: Nine days ago when the Wings were in Washington, D.C., Capitals forward Nicklas Backstrom hit Jonathan Ericsson behind the Detroit net.
Ericsson suffered a fractured wrist and is expected to miss the rest of the season.
Ericsson underwent successful surgery this past week to repair the injury.
"The problem with Big E's injury is it's just a bone that blood doesn't flow to easily so it's going to take a while to heal," Wings coach Jeff Blashill said.
HOCKEY IS FOR EVERYONE: Today's game against the Capitals will be the Wings' Hockey is for Everyone game.
Select players will use Pride tape on their hockey sticks during warmup and those will be auctioned off to raise funds for You Can Play, an organization that works to ensure equality, safety and respect for all athletes, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Several coaches and staff members will wear You Can Play lapel pins.
"First of all, I think it's great," Blashill said. "I think the initiative is great. I think opening up the sport to all is awesome. I was a friend with Brendan Burke. He was on Miami when I was at Miami. That spearheaded a lot of this, his unfortunate passing. I'm friends with Patrick Burke, who has done tons of work for this so I think it's a great initiative."
Frans Nielsen is the Wings' representative for You Can Play.
"I did a little thing way back in New York and they kind of asked, since they knew I'd done it before, they asked if I want to keep doing it," Nielsen said. "I said sure, I think it's important this time of age. Hockey should be for everyone. It doesn't matter what you believe in, I think everyone should be allowed to play hockey or be a part of anything. It shouldn't matter."