Monday, April 14, 2014

The Barry Trotz I Knew

The Nashville Predators have fired their first and only Head Coach, Barry Trotz.

That action has been and will be dissected for some time, and the pros and cons of that decision will be passionately debated among the fans of the team.

Trotz has been described as a good coach that couldn't get the team over the hump, a coach that had a difficult time developing offense, and yet a coach that got the most out of what he was given.

As a person, he was described as classy, thoughtful, considerate and caring.

He was all of those things and more.

I want to share a story that epitomizes the person, not the Coach, that was Barry Trotz.

A friend of mine and myself have made it a goal to see the Predators play in every NHL arena. So far, we have made 24 barns to see the Predators play. On every trip, we stay in the same hotel as the team and we have an opportunity to visit with the players and the coaching staff on occasion. Trotz in particular always made it a point to visit with us when he saw us on the road.

A few years ago, we made a trip to Raleigh to watch the team on Saturday night and then were going to Columbus on Sunday for a Monday game. Trotz saw us and visited with us in Raleigh and asked if we were going to go to Columbus as well. Since we fly commercial and follow after the team, we told him that we would catch up to them on Sunday and that we would fly home on Tuesday.

We got to the team hotel and were preparing to go to dinner when we got a phone call in our room. It was from Brandon Walker, the coordinator of hockey operations on the road for the team.

He said that Trotz appreciated our support (we had made trips following the team for several years) and the he (Trotz) wanted to know if we wanted to fly back with the team right after the game.

You know our answer was absolutely yes!

Now, I am not relating this story to brag. We were honored to be asked to come back with the team.

I am telling you this to tell you what happened next.

The game was a frustrating 2-0 loss to the Jackets, who were in our division at the time. Trotz and the coaching staff were not happy with the play of the team, and it was evident on the ride back home.

We got back from the game about 1:00 in the morning and landed at the charter terminal that the team uses.

Since we had not expected or prepared for this, our car was parked on the other side of the airport, which meant that we were going to have to call a cab to get over to our car and get home.

While we were waiting to get our bags off the plane and call a cab, someone tapped me on the shoulder.

It was Barry, and he asked where we were parked.

We told him that we were on the other side of the airport in an off site lot and were going to call a cab.

Trotz said, "No you aren't. Throw your bags in my car and I will run you over there."

After a disappointing loss and very early in the morning, an NHL Head Coach was concerned about two guys getting to their car and getting home.

He drove us to our car, all the while talking about what we wanted to talk about and concerned about us.

He took time to take care of just a couple of fans that were supporting the Predators.

This story is indicative of the type of person that Barry Trotz is. He always thought of others first and lived outside of himself.

The legacy of Barry Trotz as a coach of the Predators is written. A player's coach, a coach that was successful and got the most out of his teams.

His legacy as a person is far greater.

He will be remembered as a selfless individual that gave immense time and effort supporting charities around Middle Tennessee. He is a loving and devoted father.

And he is a person that cared immensely about other people.

And that is how I will remember him.

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