Nashville Predators Coach Barry Trotz has been doing his job for a long time. As of today, he’s been doing it longer than any other man in his position in the National Hockey League.
The Buffalo Sabres today fired Lindy Ruff as their head coach. Ruff had held the position for the last 16 years, longer than not only every coach in the NHL but all coaches in North American pro sports other than Gregg Popovich of the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs. After a 6-10-1 start to the season, Buffalo’s management decided it was time for a new beginning. Ruff finished his tenure with the Sabres holding a record of 571 wins, 432 losses, 78 ties, and 84 overtime losses.
With Ruff now out in Buffalo, Barry Trotz now takes over as the longest-tenured coach in the NHL. He’s the only head coach the franchise has ever employed in its 15-year history. Trotz has 511 wins in 1,083 games, making him just the third man ever to reach 500 wins with a single NHL team. He finished as the runner-up for the Jack Adams Award in 2009-10; has guided his team to the playoffs in seven of the last eight seasons, standing alone among NHL coaches; and has helped the Predators compile the fifth-best win total in the league since the 2004-05 lockout.
Not too long ago the Wall Street Journal called Trotz, the only expansion coach in the history of pro sports to last a decade, “the greatest coach you’ve never heard of.” People around Nashville have known him for his consistency and his presence in the local community for 15 years, and savvy media members recognize his talent. Now that he’s the longest-tenured coach in the NHL the superlative might make the rest of the stragglers start paying attention, too.