Thursday, January 28, 2010

Channeling Barry Trotz, Part V

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
And we now conclude our investigation of the success of Barry Trotz and the Nashville Predators with the thoughts of Buddy Oakes, blogger at Preds on the Glass...
I really feel bad for y'all in Columbus after making the playoffs last year and then going through all the stuff you are seeing now. I had Eric Smith on our podcast a couple of weeks back and we talked about all the problems. Pre-season, I had a hunch that Steve Mason would not have as good a second year as his rookie campaign and Eric gave me some insight into the personality change that Mason has undergone over the summer. I talked to Mason at the Awards show in Vegas and he was about as shy as anyone I've ever seen that was a public figure. It's hard to believe that he went from that to being so difficult this season.

I know that Hitch and Trotz are friends and actually called Barry on Hitch's coach's show last week to ask him a question about Pekka being left off the Finnish Olympic team.

I think the primary reason for Trotz's longevity is his relationship with GM David Poile that has goes back to when Trotz was with the Washington Caps AHL team when Poile was with the Caps. Trotz was an assistant in 1991 and was named head coach in 92. In 94-95 his team won the Calder Cup and Trotz was the AHL coach of the year. When Poile came to Nashville Trotz followed.
Philosophically, Poile and Trotz are one. They both understand each other, know what their roles are, and act accordingly. They are both keenly aware that it takes everyone on the team to be "all in" every game with "no passengers". Trotz was talking about the "core" of the team last week which most would think would be the top 8-10 players, but Trotz explained it differently. He said the core was the 26 players that had played and contributed throughout the year. He explained that each had a role and none were more important than the whole.

There have been many other occasions where Trotz has gone philosophical in his explanations and they all center around his "band of brother" mentality where the team as a group is far better than the individuals involved. At times when one or more players could be called out publically, he has blamed the "hockey gods" in talking to the press. Behind closed doors I imagine he had frank talks but he does not embarrass his players publically.

In the dressing room you can tell the players have a full buy in to what he is saying because they use the same terms and explanations as Trotz does. Last night is a great example where Ellis, Suter and Hornqvist all stated that they didn't play as well the first two periods as in the third. He has instilled a culture of ownership in the team where they are accountable for results.

He has core beliefs that involve things like going to the hard areas, playing with resiliency, and going a full 60 minutes each game. He firmly believes that if you do the small things, winning will take care of itself and when it doesn't, the hockey gods will give you your reward later.

Trotz is never too high or too low after a game. When he crosses the hall from the dressing room to his office, rarely can you distinguish his look between a win or a loss.

His best coaching jobs have been with teams with less talent. The year that the Preds were loaded, with Forsberg et al, he had too many "star" type players that were depending on their own skills and not the team concept so they got 110 points in the season and were one and done in the playoffs.

Another example of how he gets the buy in from the players is that he and Poile will not bring a player into the locker room that is not a full buy in candidate. No matter how good someone is, Trotz will ride them or bench them. Radulov never bought in or did so occasionally at best. He lived in Trotz's dog house. He would not be welcomed back on the same terms again.
And we have another blogger bring up the family/"band of brothers" concept.  This is starting to resonate with me.

Also, I've noticed the trend in Pred blogger thoughts about the coach and GM being on the exact same page. As much as I'd like to think that this is the case in Columbus, I'm not entirely sure - largely because of the way  in which the team has handled Nikita Filatov. While Filly is an odd case, sometimes those odd cases highlight the extremes in how situations are handled.  I think it's safe to say that Howson wanted Filatov on the roster and Hitch didn't want him around.  Let's hope that this is a one-time-only situation and nothing more.

I hope you've enjoyed this series on Trotz and the Preds.  As I expected, there are a number of lessons that we Blue Jackets fans can learn from their longevity and success in Nashville.  Thanks to:
I appreciate their taking the time to participate in this fascinating dialogue.  The blogs are all very insightful and are worth your time if you wish to learn more about the Nashville Predators (and perhaps some truths about our Columbus Blue Jackets...).

Carry The Flag!

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