Monday, July 18, 2011

Barry Trotz Interview - 2011 NHL Awards

Last month we spoke with the Nashville Predators' first and only head coach Barry Trotz at the 2011 NHL Awards about his playoff series against Vancouver, home ice, diving and realignment. These are his stories.

Q: Talk about your second round series against the Canucks, specifically the challenges of matching up against the league’s top offensive and defensive team.
A: I just thought there were some terrific matchups. Shea Weber on our side was a real top candidate in the playoffs and did some great things. Ryan Kesler had a series that a player dreams about, very Mark Messier like. I thought that Alain’s team did a real good job of containing us offensively and I thought we did a good job of containing them offensively. It became sort of a low scoring grind-it-out type of series. And you know, they deserved it. We weren’t able to win at home which was a surprise because we’re typically a very strong home team. Then we won two games in their building where they’re extremely good as a home team. So it was very close. I mean, if you get a break here or there it might have changed the series for us. But they ended up being the better team. We had our crack at them.


Q: Despite your difficulties at home during the Vancouver series, describe the meaning of home ice for the Nashville Predators.
A: The meaning of home ice is huge. To me, our building is the loudest building in the league, 17,113 in there screaming. What’s amazing about our building is the fans have a great way of forcing us to bring our game to the next level. During TV timeouts, they’ll give us a standing ovation. I mean, it is very hard not to press on harder because you don’t want to disappoint - it’s so spontaneous, it’s so good. I think our market has grown immensely in the last 13 years. It’s a real strong market right now and I think it’s going to get better and better. We’re developing new hockey fans all the time.


Q: Discuss the culture of diving in the NHL and its apparent increase during this year’s playoffs.
A: Well, there are so many teams that are so close. Everybody’s trying to get the advantage. I believe the team that plays the best is always going to win and you don’t have to try and trick the referees. It just hurts the integrity of the game and goes against the culture. Now that you have replays and different camera angles you can see it all. No one wants to be put in a bad light, especially the referees. I think we should protect the referees and let the team that plays the best decide who wins the hockey game and not a phantom call a player gets because he takes advantage of a referee's bad angle and pulls a 'chicken wing' - by the way, I labeled that and should have put a claimer on it because everyone is starting to use it.


Q: What’s the missing piece of the puzzle for the Nashville Predators?
A: We’ve got to establish a little more of an offensive presence upfront. We need to develop a couple of forwards or get a couple of forwards. I don’t think we’re that far off. A lot of people say we need three or four guys, I think we’re two away. I mean, look at teams that are in the Finals. Defensive teams are in the Finals. This year the top two defensive teams in the league were in the Final. We were third in the league in defense and our goaltending stacks up with anyone in the league. We just need to develop a couple of forwards. If we get Matthew Lombardi back, that’ll be real huge to our offense, hopefully. Alexander Radulov could be the difference for us, maybe. I don’t know.

There are so many teams that are so close. For us it’s about maintaining the core. A lot of people forget that the Detroit Red Wings had ten really tough years that were followed by ten years of great success. Sometime you have to swallow those bitter pills. We swallowed a bitter one in Chicago last year but we were much more mature and better to handle the situations this year. So for us it’s just a little bit of growth. We’re a young team. We need to create a little bit more upfront offensively without losing our defensive mindset, in terms of being able to check really well defensively, and just keep growing.

I think we have a really resilient group, a great captain, and a great organization that is committed to winning. We’re through the tough times of just trying to survive. Our market is growing. We’re generating a lot more revenue as an organization and we’re spending that revenue. That’s just going to make us even better.

Q: In light of the recent relocation of the Atlanta Thrashers to Winnipeg and possible realignment of the league, if Nashville became part of the Southeast Division how would that change how you develop your team?
A: That would be a good question. That would be something I’d have to look at. We’ve spent a lot of time developing an identity and a culture. I don’t think we need to change. I would have to spend a lot of time dissecting the East a lot more. When you only play them twice a year you don’t really dissect them. I can give you an hour on the Detroit Red Wings with my eyes closed because we’ve played them so many times. That would probably be the learning process again. I think what we’d do is maintain our identity and play the way we do and then try to dissect the other teams a lot better than we do right now because we don’t play them.

Many thanks to Barry for speaking with us. Best of luck next season.

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