Archive for the ‘Barry Trotz’ Category

Addicted to Vampires? Take a look at Nashville pro sports …

October 24, 2009



We live in a sports culture of “what have you done for me lately?” Although the trend hasn’t been consistent in the NHL lately, it’s not uncommon for a coach to win an annual award one year and find themselves in the unemployment line merely two years later. In a salary cap age, it’s more understandable for owners to expect coaches to catch lightning in a bottle.

That’s what makes Nashville’s NHL and NFL teams unique; both of their coaches have basically lead their teams since they came to Tennessee.* Forgive my horrific pun, but I feel the urge to re-define the region as Tennessee-vania.
* Apparently Barry Trotz was a scout for the Predators’ first season, though.
Now, obviously if the Titans’ current meltdown continues, Fisher might find a pink slip attached to a stake in his heart, but it really is stunning that the two made it this far in the same city. After all, Fisher is the longest tenured NFL coach and Trotz is the second longest tenured coach in the NHL.
First, here’s Trotz’ career stats via his Wiki page:

And now, Jeff Fisher’s from his Wiki page:

Of the two coaches, Fisher’s bulletproof tenure makes the most sense (instantly at least). He lead the Titans to a notably competitive Super Bowl match up against the St. Louis Rams, managed an unexpected 13-3 record last season and has only four seasons with a losing record in his 15 year reign. Only Andy Reid (who started in 1999) can reasonably compete with Fisher in two treasured categories: longevity and mustache dominance.

Trotz’s run seems the most vampiric (and in general, the guy conjures up images of various D & D inspired creatures). On one hand, Trotz managed to squeeze points out of teams that were among the league’s worst in star (and fire)power. You cannot fault him for failing to transform Nashville into a juggernaut.

Which form of the undead is more exhausted: vampires or zombies?

That being said, many franchises would get antsy with his results. While he managed to break them into the playoffs for four seasons, the team was knocked out in the first round each time and never even made it to a Game 7. They’ve never won their division and some might say the main reason they were No. 2 in the Central for those years was because their other division mates rarely managed to muster even the slightest competition. Over the years, the Predators ceiling has been “frisky.”

Such middling results kept the Predators from getting many premium draft choices and you wonder how many elite players are on that roster … who beyond Shea Weber will truly threaten greatness? Oddly enough, Trotz shares a lot in common with Lindy Ruff, the only guy who has been sitting behind a bench for a longer period of time. Buffalo is off to a great start – and like Nashville – has a nice array of competent players. However, you wonder if the team could benefit from tanking for a season or shaking things up.

My question is: is the city of Nashville that loyal? Is everyone just so preoccupied with fixing the Vols that they don’t even care what happens with their pro coaches? Or could it be that Fisher and Trotz feast on human blood and sleep upside down every night?

I must know.

Coach of the Decade: whom to consider

February 3, 2009
Mike Babcock
Record: 231 W – 118 L – 19 T – 42 OTL
Best years: Three division titles; 2002-03 (his lemons to lemonade year: coached an 8th 7th seed who beat Detroit and came within a game of a Cup) and 2007-08 (dominant Stanley Cup year – no team ever put the Red Wings at risk of elimination in the entire playoffs)
Fired?: No, but he left the Ducks for the Red Wings

Babcock is a quality over quantity guy. He’s made the playoffs four out of five years as a head coach. He won one Cup and came within a game of another. His teams usually perform very well in the playoffs. Rarely will you ever find a loss pinned on Babcock.

Lindy Ruff
Record: 340 W – 252 L – 44 T – 47 OTL
Best years: One division title, 05-06 and 06-07 – both seasons ended with Conference finals losses.

Fired?: No

Lindy Ruff is the closest thing the NHL has to a Terminator or cockroach when it comes to being unkillable. As the longest tenured coach in the NHL, Ruff has been with the team since the 1997-98 season. In the last decade, he kept the Sabres from imploding while the club was in financial trouble and helped lead what might be a short-lived return to glory for the franchise.

What hurts him the most is that the team has missed the playoffs four times this decade.

Barry Trotz
Record: 296 W – 261 L – 53 T – 46 OTL
Best years: 05-06 (106 pts, lost in first round) and 06-07 (110 points, lost in first round)
Fired?: No

Barry Trotz is the only coach in the history of the Nashville Predators. Behind the bench since 1998-99, Trotz often made something out of nothing. In fact, with only a few big name guys over the last few years like Paul Kariya and Jason Arnott, the Predators have been remarkably competitive.

They’ve also made it to the playoffs for the last four seasons.

Unfortunately, they’ve also been kicked out before ever seeing the second round. As great a coach as Trotz is, it might be hard to overcome that hurdle.

Ken Hitchcock
Record: 307 W – 202 L – 52 T – 51 OTL
Best years: Three division titles, 99-00 (lost in SCF) and 03-04 (lost in Game 7 of Conference finals)
Fired?: twice

Hitchcock is a bit of a victim of timing in this case. He won his only Stanley Cup with the Dallas Stars in 1998-99, the season before “the decade” began. Indeed, the three years before 99-00 were the best years of his coaching career.

That being said, Hithcock still has had an impressive decade. He took two different teams to the Conference Finals and brought the Stars to the Cup finals against the New Jersey Devils.

Perhaps the biggest knocks are that he’s been fired twice and missed the playoffs twice in a row as the coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets. Still, the Stars hit their highest level under his tutelage. And the Flyers were one game away from the SCF because of Hitchcock. Finally, the Blue Jackets are in the mix for this year’s playoffs which would be the first in the club’s history.

Jacques Lemaire
Record: 277 W – 242 L – 55 T – 47 OTL
Best years: One division title, 02-03 (lost in Conf. finals)
Fired?: No

Even if his name will forever be associated with the neutral zone trap, Lemaire is still one of the most respected coaches in the NHL. While his teams have missed the playoffs four times, he’s been able to coax some very successful seasons out of some minimally talented teams.

Ron Wilson
Record: 344 W – 228 L – 52 T – 46 OTL
Best years: four division titles, 03-04 (lost in Conf. finals) and 07-08 (108 pts)
Fired?: Twice

One of the best personalities in the NHL is also one of the best coaches. He lead both the Washington Capitals and San Jose Sharks from basement teams to perennial contenders. Along with being consistently quotable, Wilson’s claim to fame is being ahead of the pack when it comes to technology.

Wilson shares the unfortunate distinction with Hitchcock of being fired twice in this decade. However, it’s always a sign that you’re probably a worthwhile coach when you barely blink and a new offer is on the table. Both Wilson and Hitchcock barely wasted a month before being chosen as the coach of a different team.

Other possible contenders: Dave Tippett, Claude Julien, Randy Carlyle (too brief), Scotty Bowman (only three years, but did win a Cup) and Joel Quenneville. Maybe even Pat Burns or Pat Quinn?

All-Decade Team: Coach

February 3, 2009

Somewhere in the cosmos, Herb Brooks’ soul just blew a whistle and screamed “Again!” at my taking-the-Finns-lightly self. When imaging an All-Decade Team, how could the coach be forgotten? Stunning.

What makes a coach of the decade candidate? Let me see:

1. Championships

Let’s face it, for head coaches it’s all about raising the Cup. Sure, it takes a hell of a team to win a title, but usually that team will face at least one worthy adversary. At least one bit of turmoil. It’s the great coaches who can mold a lump of clay potential into a vase of victory.

(The lights just turned out. Jim Carrey‘s chubby friend from The Truman Show just looked at coach Brooks with that, “wait, you’re STILL making them do Herbies?” expression and people are barfing on the ice.)

Emmerich to Russell: “Did that chubby guy just call me ‘that chubby friend’?”

2. Longevity

Bobby Bowden and Joe Paterno have a lot of great things in common, but there might be one similarity that gets them atop the coaching win ranks: no one in their right mind would fire them. Really, the two goals of any coach is to keep his or her job and win.

(Ted Nolan just nodded sadly)

Lindy Ruff knows nothing of what mere mortals call “unemployment.”

3. Lemons to Lemonade-ability

Sadly, the third category decides an insane amount of Coach of the Year victories. Still, there are stretches where a good coach can make a ragtag bunch of misfits believe they can defeat the finest collection of Russian hockey players ever built.

(Whoops, wait, that’s “Miracle” again.)

ANYWAY, while Lemons to Lemonade-ability isn’t everything … it does say something about a coach. So it at least should be in the discussion.

4. Wins

Not quite as good as championships, but they’re pretty cool too.

Things that will NOT determine Coach of the Decade

1. Jack Adams awards

The sad irony of coach of the year awards is that the “of the year” is quite profound. Those guys lose their jobs like hot cakes. While trophies don’t always go to the rightful owner, it’s usually safe to say that the Norris trophy winner still had at least a very good season. That’s why those awards are listed in those other posts.

But when Scotty Bowman’s only won something twice, you know that it’s either a) insanely difficult to win or b) being decided by sleepy journalists.

Marc Crawford … probably not gonna make it.

2. Sound bytes/looks/other superfluousness

John Tortorella might be a great quote; Ron Wilson fights with the media to the amusement of all. But those two have an equal opportunity to lose to bland coaches like Jacques Lemaire and troll-like coaches including Barry Trotz.

***

So, the idea of including coach of the year literally came to me within the last hour. Besides proving how dumb I am, it provides a big question: which coaches deserve to be considered for Coach of the Decade? I’d love to hear your suggestions. In fact, I think I might be in over my head so any recommendations would earn disproportionate friendliness.

(Screams to doubtful Herb Brooks: I AM A HOCKEY BLOGGER!)

Ilya Kovalchuk would look great in a different uniform … the news cycle!

November 14, 2008
Barry Trotz graciously accepts his Goofiest Looking Coach Award
  • Puck Daddy spotlights yet another great Russian interview, this time with mercurial sniper Ilya Kovalchuk. When Alex Ovechkin burst onto the scene in his rookie year, he was first compared to Kovalchuk and then to Pavel Bure once it was obvious who was the bigger impact player.

While he burnt me the year he was my first round selection in fantasy hockey, he still grabs my attention like few others. Really, with Ovechkin’s bumper car checking mentality, Kovalchuk might be a better analog to Bure. He certainly relates to Bure by playing in a struggling Southern US market without much help from his mediocre teammates.

His response of choice to the Thrashers-related probes was to say “wait until 2010,” the year he will become an unrestricted free agent. It’s obvious why there are trade rumors but the Thrashers would be insane not to throw all their resources at Kovalchuk. Honestly, he’s the only reason the franchise deserves to exist.

If he was in a better market or on a decent team, he’d be just a rung or two lower than Crosby-Ovechkin. It’s a real sin that he’s never been on a hockey video game cover as he ranks as one of the most unstoppable digi forces the polygonal world’s ever seen.

He brings up the fact that Barry Trotz works miracles with a Nashville Predators club that always seems to persevere through any number of calamities. It’s obvious why people do not want to bring this up very often: Nashville is a place meant for country music and inbreeding in the eyes of many. But Trotz is much like the NFL’s longest reigning coach Jeff Fisher, and not just because they’re both coaching teams in Tennessee.

They both enjoy and earn startling longevity in a sports world where “What have you done for me lately?” is the ultimate management question. (Eddie Murphy must be rolling in his grave.*) Also, Trotz wins the Goofy Looking Coaches Cup in a heated 7-game series with Jacques Lemaire and his comb-over.

* He’s not dead you say? Well, I say he died after Beverly Hills Cop and was replaced by an unfunny money grubbing robot. We all miss money grubbing but genius Eddie Murphy with his politically incorrect stand up and his fashionably incorrect loud leather suits.

  • Fans wrote in a request for the Penguins to play WHAM! for Alex Goligoski goals (man, how did people not know that George Michael was gay???). While that song will probably gain more support, I’d like to recommend a dark horse candidate in The Go! Team:

Miami Five-O for the win.

  • Am I the only one who gets annoyed that NHL 09 allows people to interfere so much? Every time there’s a loose puck, some online douche hits me illegally while trying to retrieve it. And a little part of me dies.

Cleavage: nature’s billboard

  • A lot of people are annoyed that Habs fans keep stuffing the ballot box. My main reaction is a whole lotta “Meh.” Although I agree that Habs fans should focus their efforts on continued bra stuffing instead.

  • During the switch from Time Warner Satan Cable to Hopefully better Verizon FIOS, I’ve been without Center Ice for at least three weeks. Every steak tastes less juicy. Every morning less crisp. Every wound less gaping.

Life will go on but the question is: should it?