Barry Trotz is a smart guy. Soft spoken, tough, and a player’s coach- he’s found ways to win using parts, kids, and by smart staffing. This conversation might be a little different were it not for Mitch Korn, but nevertheless he’s there. He’s achieved a level of invincibility not seen often in professional sports. In the day and age where Russian forwards are hitting coaches with their stick (HI THERE ALEX), or getting their successful coach fired, Barry is teflon.
This team may be his finest work, and possibly his best from top to bottom. The psychology employed by their leader is stronger than ever, and may be the difference.
A few examples of the psychology of Trotz being employed:
-Regarding the game versus the Flyers, this is the second time Anders Lindback is getting the nod instead of Rinne against a high level Eastern Conference team. Sure, Pekka Rinne is among the best in the world. He gives the team the best chance to win. He dominates games like few in the league can. But with the Blues visiting on Saturday, I’m important to have the Finn rested and prepared against the team the Predators are directly competing with for division/conference positioning. Plus, going deeper, it relaxes the team. You aren’t going to beat the Flyers by playing risky and offense first, you beat them by playing tough and simple and with defense. Backup goalies, especially Anders who gives up rebounds like a wall, forces a simpler game. If they lose, they only hurt themselves, and not help out another team in the West by handing them two points.
-Years ago, critics said of Jordin Tootoo that “he needed to play like a forward” “he needs to play like (insert name of player here”. Today, you can argue that there are 4-5 players on the roster that play like him, especially that Gabriel Bourque fellow. Colin Wilson is even emulating Tootoo’s play from the blueline inward. Given, Wilson has always had the ability and is further focused this year thanks to his own self-imposed discipline, but the similarities are there. Paired with Bourque and Nick Spaling, Tootoo’s line has been frustrating the opposition most nights.
-As much credit as the organization gets from bringing up the kids and drafting smart and safe, the outside additions show more light in Barry’s direction. Mike Fisher had as good of a month as he’s ever had in his career in January. Sergei Kostitsyn is flourishing at times, and proclaims his love for the team every time a microphone is near him. The latest, Brandon Yip, has played some good hockey in his short time in Nashville so far. It’s hard not to be impressed with him thus far, especially being picked up off waivers. While he wasn’t necessarily needed, having an extra bullet in the holster is never a bad idea, especially with the deadline approaching.
-He knows he darn near invincible at the this point in Nashville. His comfort trickles down to the roster, and is passed on through the organization. “Do your job, do it well, and good things will happen.” The press conference with his son next to him after a big game against the Blues is a prime example of his comfort level on display. As a fan… I love it. He’s a dad to his family, and a father figure for quite a few young men on the team. He’s a player’s coach, but still motivates the team- a difficult balance to achieve in sports. Great defense is all about motivation, which is why the NBA is unbearable and coaches are fired monthly while college basketball has coaches tenured over 30 years.
It’s another season, the team’s contending again (better than most years), and doing it with less marquee players than most of their competition. The recipe is similar- solid defense, goaltending, two way forwards. The power play has improved- the one knock Nashville has always had. With that final piece, we’ll see if this edition of his Predators can finally deliver the goods to Nashville.