Five Questions on Barry Trotz

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We began our search for a new head coach for the Toronto Maple Leafs with an in-depth look at Peter DeBoer over the weekend. DeBoer officially received the MLHS stamp of endorsement, but he has since been confirmed to be remaining in New Jersey next season. Be it a new deal, or a contract option we weren’t aware of, apparently his contract isn’t expiring anymore.

Next up we’ll look at someone whose contract definitely did expire: veteran coach Barry Trotz, formerly the longest-tenured coach in the NHL before his 15-year-reign as Predators bench boss ended just the other day.

We went to Dirk Hoag of Nashville Predators blog On The Forecheck for his take on the following five questions.

What share of the blame should Trotz receive for the team’s failure to produce enough offence the last two seasons versus say, the Predators’ scouting (traditionally unearths defenceman more successfully) and management?

Dirk Hoag: That’s a thorny issue, because by all accounts Trotz was heavily involved with the free agent acquisitions the team made last summer, such as Matt Hendricks, Eric Nystrom, Matt Cullen and Viktor Stalberg. While the final accountability for personnel decisions has to rest with David Poile, the public proclamations were all about how they got the players that Barry wanted. Perhaps Stalberg’s case was the most frustrating this season, because Trotz treated him much like Mikhail Grabovski in his final year with Toronto (often playing on the Gaustad line), and there’s a feeling that under a new regime he might become more of a scoring threat.

Scouting is also to blame, however, as Nashville has failed to consistently develop offensive talent in-house. Assistant GM Paul Fenton has run the draft operation for years, and the oft-stated preference for “character” over skill is why the Predators’ top two forward prospects have arrived via trade (Calle Jarnkrok and Filip Forsberg).

How do Trotz’s teams fare in terms of five on five possession?

DH: This season wasn’t too bad, actually, as they were basically a break-even bunch. Paul Gaustad gets the lion’s share of D-zone starts and his numbers suffer as a result, but otherwise it’s a moderately effective team. The one question I’d like to examine (but just haven’t had time to) is whether a prepoderance of Shots For are coming from the defense, however. A typical Nashville possession involves getting the puck deep into the corner or behind the net, and trying to attract enough attention from the opposition to feed the points for slap shots, hoping to capitalize on tips and rebounds.

With shooters like Dion Phaneuf and Cody Franson (if he’s back) on the Toronto blueline as well as talented youngsters like Rielly and Gardiner, that model might not be a bad fit there.

When did Trotz stopping getting “more out of less” as he was reputed to do for so many years, and why?

DH: Even this season I think many would say he squeezed the best out of this roster as he could, but there are two questions left open – first, since he got the players he asked for in free agency, the roster issues are partially his fault, and secondly, the slow, unsteady progress of forwards such as Colin Wilson, Craig Smith, Gabriel Bourque and others has been an issue for several years, probably dating back to when the team first rose to prominence coming out of the Great Lockout of 2004-5, and the Alexander Radulov saga. Once he had talented veterans to work with like Paul Kariya, Jason Arnott and J.P. Dumont, it seemed like working youngsters into the mix up front was something he struggled with.

To what degree has Trotz relied on high end goaltending for his defensive system to work?

DH: Ever since the Fire Sale of 2007, when David Poile had to purge the payroll while Craig Leipold was selling the team, the mindset has been to build out from goaltending and defense. It’s telling that during his farewell press conference Trotz choked up before talking about goaltending coach Mitch Korn, calling him “one of my best friends”, and it’s hard to overstate Korn’s importance to the Predators over the years. He didn’t just help develop Pekka Rinne and Tomas Vokoun into stars, but he wrung outstanding seasons from guys like Dan Ellis and Chris Mason in the past. It will be interesting to see if Korn follows Trotz to his next gig, as his contract is up as well.

Could you see Trotz’s coaching style and personality, after 15 years, smoothly transitioning into a market that couldn’t be more night and day to Nashville, like, say, Toronto?

DH: Trotz could be an excellent fit for Toronto, as he would probably shore up their defensive game and presumably enjoy the opportunity to have a sniper like Phil Kessel in the lineup (recall that the Preds hotly pursued Kessel at the time of the trade with Boston). He has a tremendous amount of goodwill built up in the media, so might get a bit of a honeymoon period to make things work.

There’s no question that such a change would bring huge challenges, however, particularly on the media front. Trotz has a reputation for giving folks lots of time here in Nashville, but I doubt he’d be able to keep up such a policy in that media whirlwind. Setting boundaries would be a priority there, and the heat would certainly rise quicker there than in Nashville, where very few members of the traditional media (who are overwhelmingly football-first in their expertise) feel confident enough to criticize the team publicly.

Further, how would you envision Trotz handling a team that is constructed around lots of offensive talent with little defensive buy in?

DH: I would expect that he would get right to the point that defensive buy-in is not optional, and that those who perform as requested will be given the opportunity to help the team succeed, while those who don’t will watch from the press box. As demanding as Trotz can be as a head coach, the one thing he does have a reputation for is being open in his communication with players, so there shouldn’t be any mystery as to why certain guys might lose ice time.

Overall, I think Trotz could be a fine choice for Toronto – although his track record in the playoffs is poor, he should be able to stabilize things there and it would be fascinating to see what he might do with a team that doesn’t have to worry about budget constraints.

What’s your level of interest in Barry Trotz, MLHS?

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Alec Brownscombe is the founder of MapleLeafsHotStove.com, where he has written daily about the Leafs since September of 2008. He was also the editor of the 2009-12 Maple Leafs Annuals. You can contact him at [email protected]
  • mr_hanie

    Carlyle is still the coach of the Leafs, so write about about Rob Babcock too.  :)

  • NotTheCanucksnaphook

    mr_hanie  Who is Rob Babock?

  • vinoa

    Liking the idea of a guy who doesn’t just preach accountability. Also if the goalie coach is a part of the package we should go for it.

  • lukethenuke

    NotTheCanucksnaphook mr_hanie  never heard of him? Live under a rock or something? 😉

  • mlclearwater

    I am interested in Trotz but the comments remind me almost exactly of Carlyle when he was brought – defensive, tough, open communicator- except Trotz may be a bit more loveable and Carlyle had more playoff experience.

  • [BBirde]

    NotTheCanucksnaphook mr_hanie Babcock’s 80th cousin twice removed seven times added. B

  • [BBirde]

    mlclearwater Except Trotz can make something out of basically nothing. His Preds team this year was nothing to cry home about but still managed to get something out of them. E

  • mr_hanie

    [BBirde] NotTheCanucksnaphookmr_hanieI am hyped up for the Raptors hahaha Rob Babcock !!!?????

  • mlclearwater

    [BBirde] mlclearwater  I agree he had more restrictions there but I wouldnt go as far to say that Rinne, Weber and up until recently ryan Suter = basically nothing

  • dlb meh

    i like the stamp of approval for Peter D … after seeing what NJ fans think about him haha

  • [BBirde]

    mlclearwater [BBirde] Suter gone,  Rinne injured for almost the whole season. Weber playing with a rookie. R

  • dlb meh

    [BBirde]
    once had to be removed from Linda Ronstadt

  • http://i.imgur.com/MyKj5C3.gif ingy56

    https://twitter.com/CJ_Stevenson https://twitter.com/CJ_Stevenson/status/456157474358165505
    No Bishop for Game 1 for Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Montreal Canadiens.

  • vinoa

    ingy56  Damn. I really don’t want to see the Habs go far this year.

  • GreekGod

    No thanks to Trotz. Talking to Nashville fans and the guy isn’t what this team needs moving forward. They say that his misuse of players is almost as bad as Carlyle and the only reason why he got anywhere with Nashville is because of Weber, Suter and Rinne.

  • Dudgee

    is it not fair to say that Trotz probably got the free agents he wanted within the ridiculous salary budget boundaries the Preds have to operate under?

    I’m sure if they had more money he would have had more prominent names on his list. The guys he got were mostly pluggers with possible upside.

  • lukethenuke

    GreekGod  Yeah Im confused by him…. could be a dinasauer coach like Trotz… dont know

  • vinoa

    Holy shit we had an 81% Canadian roster?

  • [BBirde]

    vinoa ingy56 This just gives them a handicap to give the smurfs a chance. t

  • http://i.imgur.com/MyKj5C3.gif ingy56

    vinoa  Yup, so much for that narrative eh?

  • rustynail

    GreekGod  fans of teams that didn’t make the playoffs might be a little biased :)

  • vinoa

    [BBirde] vinoa ingy56  Price could steal them a game or 2.

  • GreekGod

    lukethenuke GreekGod  
    Yea, to be honest I was pretty high on Trotz until I started talking to some Nashville guys a few days ago.

  • [BBirde]

    vinoa [BBirde]ingy56 Implying he isn’t the reason they are where they are? I

  • vinoa

    ingy56 Yeah I looked it up just to see which playoff team had the most, but we were in 1st with the Avs in 2nd in October. So does this mean that we need more Europeans to start winning?

  • rustynail

    https://twitter.com/YakovMironov https://twitter.com/YakovMironov/status/456159085772021760
    On a day where the Leafs and Oilers eulogized their seasons, https://twitter.com/MelnykEugene finds a way to make Ottawa look like the biggest disaster.

  • Belfour20/JB-45

    rustynail  What did he do to the Sens now?

  • [BBirde]

    Belfour20/JB-45 rustynail Safer to ask what he didn’t do. S

  • rustynail

    [BBirde] Belfour20/JB-45 rustynail  shorter list

  • http://i.imgur.com/MyKj5C3.gif ingy56

    vinoa ingy56  MORE KINGSTON BOYS I TELL YA.

  • rustynail

    Belfour20/JB-45 rustynail  oh his interview was hilarious about not spending money etc

  • vinoa

    [BBirde] vinoa ingy56  He isn’t the only reason, just the biggest reason. Gotta give some credit to their players for playing bigger than they are. We laugh at them for being smurfs but how many times has Gallabitch ran one of our goalies?

  • Belfour20/JB-45

    rustynail [BBirde] Belfour20/JB-45  LOL Has to be one of the worst owners in Hockey, up there with Wang.

  • vinoa

    ingy56 8 MORE YEARS FOR MCCLEMENT!

  • Belfour20/JB-45

    Would you guys do a Lupul for Spezza trade mixed in with a few prospects?

  • Jmessih

    rustynail Belfour20/JB-45 Link?

  • rustynail

    Belfour20/JB-45  NO

  • Jmessih

    Belfour20/JB-45 Never in hell. Lups is just so much cooler.

  • rustynail

    Jmessih rustynail Belfour20/JB-45  twitter :)

  • GreekGod

    Belfour20/JB-45  
    Thought we were trying to make this team better? 😉

  • vinoa

    Belfour20/JB-45 Wang’s worse. At least Genie cares about his team to some extent. Wang couldn’t list you 3 players on his roster.

  • Belfour20/JB-45

    Jmessih Belfour20/JB-45  Spezza even in a down year had 60+ points.

  • http://i.imgur.com/MyKj5C3.gif ingy56

    Jmessih rustynail Belfour20/JB-45  https://twitter.com/MelnykEugene https://twitter.com/MelnykEugene/status/456158332445671425
    https://twitter.com/TCordina41 It’s not how much you spend it’s how you spend it. Have been one of top spenders & didn’t win, need to spend wisely!

  • Jmessih

    Belfour20/JB-45 Jmessih And laughs like an idiot.

  • [BBirde]

    God damn this website is a nightmare to use on mobile. The videos make the website load slowly and for some reason my cursor keeps going behind the first letter so I have to edit my posts so I don’t look like I’m having an aneurysm while typing.

  • Belfour20/JB-45

    GreekGod Belfour20/JB-45  You can’t deny spezza’s talent. he puts up points.

  • rustynail

    Think Trots is going to Washington in any event

  • GreekGod

    Belfour20/JB-45 GreekGod  
    So does Raymond…

  • lukethenuke

    ingy56 Jmessih rustynail Belfour20/JB-45  lol…. 5th lowest spending team this year

  • Burtonboy

    rustynail  I’d bet on Florida as well.