Thursday, January 28, 2010

Channeling Barry Trotz, Part IV

Part I: On The Forecheck's take
Part II: Preds 101's take
Part III: Pull My (Fang) Finger's take
Part IV: Seth Lake's take
Part V: Preds on the Glass' take
Continuing our series on Barry Trotz, what makes him so successful in Nashville and what the Columbus Blue Jackets might learn from his (and the Preds') example, let's consider Preds Twitterer Seth Lake, who offers thoughts on the culture that Trotz and the Predators have built over the years:
The key to Barry Trotz's successful and lengthy tenure at the helm of the Nashville Predators franchise has been developing a family-like culture.  Trotz treats his players with a tremendous amount of respect as people first and players second.  Never does he treat anyone as an asset and this in turn allows him to be extremely critical when the need arises without fear that the player will tune him out because ultimately they know how much he cares about them as a person, so no matter what...his criticism is related to their performance on the ice and not ever a personal attack.  In return, Trotz is well-respected within the locker room, throughout the organization, and around the league as well.
When speaking to a roomful of youth hockey coaches during the preseason at a team sponsored clinic, Trotz really stressed that coaching is about dealing with people and the influence you can have on those people on and off the ice.  He stressed that the relationship is built on trust, but that trust is earned by treating people with respect not just when it is convenient, but rather at all times and within all situations.  It is about establishing a family-like culture where problems are handled internally with open discussion and without name calling or threats.
Trotz is extremely demanding of his players, but they respond consistently because they know that he is working as hard off the ice as he asks them to work on the ice, if not harder.  Trotz is open with his players and in consistent communication with the "leadership" of the team (which is a group of players organized by Trotz annually to confer with the coaching staff throughout the season - no rookies, but a mix of players).  This allows the players ownership of the team.  It allows them to address issues on a peer level, rather than the typical "coach-player" dynamic and has lead to many changes throughout the past ten years in everything from playing style to the team's workout schedule.
Bottom line is that there is a culture within the Predators organization referred to as "The Predators Way" and it begins and ends with the concept of "family".  In a sense, if you really wanted to simplify it, within the hockey operations side of the organization Trotz is the Dad, Poile could be considered Grandpa, Peterson, Horachek and even video coach Robert Bouchard, goalie guru Mitch Korn, and even strength coach David Good are uncles, and guys like Lane Lambert (Milwaukee - AHL), Martin Gelinas (player development), and all of the professional and amateur scouts throughout the organization are cousins.  It's a big family, but one that shares a common goal and works hard for each other because of the respect shared throughout the family.
It's a unique story, but one that continues to evolve and work as the years continue to fly by...
Now this is interesting.  I'm not sure I've ever heard the management, coaches or players refer to the Blue Jackets in the framework of a family.  Is there something to building the emotional bond in this way?

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