Twenty-one years ago today, the Nashville Predators announced Barry Trotz as the first coach in franchise history. Now, we look back on the career of Trotzy.
Over two decades after taking his first NHL head coaching job with the Nashville Predators, Barry Trotz finally won a Stanley Cup.
Too bad it was with Washington.
Twenty-one years ago today, Predators GM David Poile announced Trotz as the first head coach in franchise history. Trotz helped build the organization that we all know and love, from the ground up, and delivered Nashville 15 great seasons of hockey, before being replaced in 2014.
He signed on to coach the Predators in 1997, coming off many years of coaching, playing, and scouting, in and around collegiate, independent, and minor league hockey.
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Barry Trotz’ hockey background stretches way back, and way north.
Trotz grew up in Dauphin, Manitoba, where he played hockey growing up. In 1979, Trotz signed with the Regina Pats of the WHL, where he played until 1982. In that time, he played 191 games, tallied 15 goals, 60 assists, and 324 penalty minutes. He also added a WHL championship in 1980.
He then played a few years of Junior Hockey in his hometown of Dauphin, but had doubts about his playing career and NHL future. However, in 1982, Barry got a spot at the training camp of the Hershey Bears of the AHL, thanks to Jack Button, the director of player recruitment for the Washington Capitals, Hershey’s NHL affiliate.
Button thought that Trotz would make a great coach someday…good call Jack.
In 1984, Trotz became the assistant coach at the University of Manitoba. That stint was short-lived though, as he became the general manager and head coach for the Dauphin Kings in 1985.
In 1987, Trotz returned to the University of Manitoba, where he was the head coach, and also a part-time scout for the Washington Capitals.
In 1992, Trotzy became the head coach for the Capitals’ minor league affiliate, the Baltimore Skipjacks. The franchise moved to Portland, Maine in 1993, and became the Pirates. There, Trotz led the Pirates to two Calder Cups.
The Capitals Connection
When longtime Capitals GM David Poile was hired by the expansion Nashville Predators in 1997, Trotz came along with him. On August 6, 1997, Barry Trotz became the first coach of the Nashville Predators.
Trotzy coached in Nashville for 15 seasons. In that first season, Trotz’ Predators won 28 games, the 3rd highest inaugural total for an expansion team.
He holds the NHL record for most games coached by the first coach of an expansion franchise. Coincidentally, he broke the record of former Tampa Bay coach, and current Predators radio and TV broadcaster, Terry Crisp.
In 2008, Trotz became just the 8th coach in NHL history to coach 750 games with a single team.
With Trotz at the helm, the Predators reached the playoffs in 7 of Trotz’s last 10 years. They tallied over 100 points four times, however only won two playoff series.
He won 557 games in his time in Nashville, however, his kryptonite was winning in the postseason. The Predators lost the first 5 playoff series they played in with Trotz, not winning one until their 6th postseason appearance, in 2011. He got Nashville to the second round in 2011 and 2012, but lost 4-2 and 4-1 in the Conference Semifinals.
After missing the playoffs in 2013 and 2014, Nashville announced that Trotz wouldn’t be back for his 16th season. He was asked to remain in the Predators front office, but Trotz wanted to continue coaching. So after 1,196 consecutive games coached for Nashville, Barry Trotz was gone. To this day, his stretch with Nashville is the longest unbroken coaching streak in NHL history.
Back to the Caps
Barely a month after being fired in Nashville, Trotz’ old friends in Washington gave him a call, and on May 26, 2014, the Capitals hired their former minor league coach.
In each of his first three seasons in Washington, Trotz took the Capitals to the playoffs. However, he never could get past the second round.
Until 2017-2018 though. This past season, Washington won the Metropolitan Division for the 11th time. After knocking off Columbus, Pittsburgh, and Tampa Bay, Trotz had led the Capitals to their first conference championship.
He wasn’t done though.
Trotz’ Capitals throttled the Vegas Golden Knights 4-1 in the Stanley Cup Finals. 19 years after he began coaching in the NHL, Trotz won his first Stanley Cup, the longest such wait in league history.
However, shortly after winning the Cup, Trotz resigned, amid contract disputes with the Capitals. Three days later, the New York Islanders hired him.
Despite 15 tumultuous seasons in Nashville, Trotz’ legacy is a positive one in Nashville. He helped build the franchise that is thriving today. He was an integral part of the early success of the team, and a big part in keeping the Predators in Nashville.
Trotz only won 46% of his games in Nashville, however, it was a good 5 years before Nashville actually had a team that could compete with the rest of the NHL.
It makes me happy to see his success last season, as he is one of the most respected coaches in the league. He’s been nominated for Coach of the Year many times and is a coach that players love to play for.
He finally won his Stanley Cup…too bad it was with the Capitals though.