Five Questions on Barry Trotz

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.

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

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 brownscombealec@gmail.com[email protected]
401 comments
Xxxxxnew
Xxxxxnew

Must drive Lieweke crazy.

Raptors drew 176,000 TV viewers Sunday. TFC had 105,000. Leafs were 1.5 million.

Lescott
Lescott

Lupul, Kadri, Kessel

JvR, Bolland, Clarkson

-----, Holland, Ashton

Bodie, -----, D'Amigo

Gardiner, Phaneuf

Reilly, -----

Ranger, -----

Bernier

-----

I think this is going to be our lineup next year.

wendelsfist
wendelsfist

This quote from the Nashville fan has me worried about Trotz


"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."    


The leafs don't retrieve pucks well.  

hometeem
hometeem

any idea if there is a pregame show and when the winner will actually be announced, prob easiest if i just wait for it to b announced on here

bob sacamano
bob sacamano

The darkhorse for Leaf coach:


Terry Murray


The Kings players loved him

LeafsGuru
LeafsGuru

I say by wait to see if Pittsburgh fires dan bylsma, if they do there's your man.

hometeem
hometeem

@wendelsfist  teachable skill if ya have players who will go into corners, either way your fucked with lazy pussies 

GreekGod
GreekGod

@wendelsfist  

I'm more worried about his player decision and the way he treats younger players. Heard some bad things about this from Nashville fans. 

Regardless though, this Leaf roster will get shaken up this summer... and a new coach will get brought in. No question about that.

Bruffins
Bruffins

@wendelsfist  

does this mean he might be smart enough to put Phaneuf on the right side all the time? there's my positive thinking

shawzy9
shawzy9

@HHT ..ya,lets keep changing coaches,lets change next year and the next year..how about getting some players who give a shit!

GreekGod
GreekGod

@HHT  

Reimer should be traded this summer. He deserves a fresh start. He's a good goalie. Plus I'd like to avoid a "Vancouver goalie" situation here...

Cameron19
Cameron19

@HHT  That's exactly why trade value isn't subject to the whims of a players most recent games. It's not like other GM's don't know that Reimer will be a good starter elsewhere. It's not like they think Lupul won't be a 25g, 25a man for the foreseeable future.  

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Having said that, Clarkson's performance was so bad, and his contract is so awful, it probably is impossible to move. 

Bruffins
Bruffins

@Pent_House  

Nonis had to prove to Shanny he was dedicated to building a winner, first task 

Lonsmos2
Lonsmos2

Yes only change was Florida first sabres second

Lescott
Lescott

Who cares about basketball? Fucking prima donnas.

Xxxxxnew
Xxxxxnew

It wouldn't matter. They've never drawn much higher. Basketball doesn't have a canada wide following.

hometeem
hometeem

@Cameron19 @Belfour20/JB-45  after that hbo deal i was blown away how fn retarded the guy was to everyday shit.  Hew obviously knows hockey a helluva lot better than my self but as a human he is a complete idiot

GreekGod
GreekGod

@shawzy9 @HHT  

I want a coach that can coach a team and hold them accountable. I want players, like you said, that give a shit. That's why many of us on here want a coaching change and players traded/let go. 

hometeem
hometeem

@shawzy9 @HHT  RC has to go, tip of the iceberg tho.  u think RC should be givin another chance?

Lescott
Lescott

What a demented thought process.

Xxxxxnew
Xxxxxnew

No, I saw some games in Ireland and t was fun for the experience, but it was a one time thing, on a vacation. Get huge crowds there because it's been around for a century. Aussie rules football is another big sport, but only in Australia obviously.

I played lacrosse so I watch more than the average sports fan.

Xxxxxnew
Xxxxxnew

Chris Zelkovich of Yahoo sports tracks Canadian sports viewing through the week using the company that tracks viewership for advertisers. One of his comments this week was

"Viewers apparently are also not very interested in Major League Soccer. Despite spending millions, Toronto FC hasn't been able to attract viewers after a good opening day. They attracted a paltry 101,000 to TSN on Saturday, while the Vancouver Whitecaps game in L.A. was watched by only 122,000.

So far, not a great return on the investment.

Lescott
Lescott

Throw Grannberg bottom-right D, Carrick bottom-centre. Komorov third-left wing.

GreekGod
GreekGod

@hometeem @GreekGod @wendelsfist  

From what I've been told he treats them the same way Carlyle does. When I asked about Seth Jones, they said he uses him too much and it's effecting his development... much like how we used Schenn when he first landed in Toronto. But like I said, that's coming from a fan... 

hometeem
hometeem

@shawzy9 @hometeem @HHT  true enough, the team is lost on him.  i think you would have to clean out more than half the team, not just bottom six for him to reclaim the room.  the toaster thing still bugs me, also "good one randy" was a tell tale, they just didnt look up to the guy 

shawzy9
shawzy9

@hometeem @shawzy9@HHT...he lead us to the playoffs for the first time in years...he is well respected in hockey circles..you can't keep changing coaches