Barry Trotz speaks deliberately, to make sure you hear every word he utters. He communicates with enthusiasm and hospitality, as though he is welcoming you to HIS city of Nashville (even though he’s originally from Dauphin, Manitoba). Coach Trotz will remind you of your dad’s best friend or your jolly neighbor next door. He is your kindergarten teacher (because he’s so warm-hearted) or your favorite law school professor (because he’s so articulate, and after speaking for so long, still remembers the original question you asked of him, ten minutes ago).
As the longest tenured NHL coach, how have you adjusted over the years?
Well, I don’t know if I’ve adjusted, but the game has changed. The city has changed, I’ve just been fortunate to have been there for that long, to work with great people: guys like Brent Peterson, started out with me, etc. The coaching staff that we have, they are the ones who deserve a lot of the credit. I benefit from it because I’ve got myself good people.
How do you not get stale?
Oh, I don’t know, haha, ask the players! I think I try to change over the years. When I first came, I was very, very militant, if you will, and stubborn. As I’ve gotten older, I didn’t have to control everything and everybody; I think I can filter that out a little better: what’s important and what’s not. I think I can now have a relationship with a player, in terms of talking to him. I’m not intimidated, or feel threatened, if a player is going head-to-head with me, if you will, or challenging my authority.
I think players are smart; they are the ones who are playing the game! That’s one thing I think, as coaches, we think we know everything about the game, but the game keeps changing. The players have a feel for what’s happening. It’s faster-paced than it’s ever been. They are bigger, faster, stronger. They make plays that are unreal, I mean I watch it on t.v. and I’m going, “That’s a really tough play,” and then I’m 6 feet away from it on the bench, and I go, “That is absolutely a phenomenal play!” People don’t realize how different these guys are and how talented they are.
I have evolved and always evolve. I probably can laugh and joke with the guys a little bit more than when I was younger. I have seen pretty well everything that has happened in this game from expansion, coach, to now being around a long time. When I first got there, I had a lot of long black hair, and now I have gray hair…or no hair.
It’s different. Nashville has grown to be a really good hockey town. I think the Predators have grown to be a big fabric of the downtown area of Nashville. We really have a lot of fun with the game. Our fans are passionate and they come in good numbers. If you haven’t seen the downtown, it has grown immensely and a lot of it is due to the arena and the Nashville Predators. The team is so important to the area. The downtown was a ghost town when we got there, and now it’s a thriving place and it’s growing like crazy so, hockey teams are very important for the metro area of cities