Saturday, April 26, 2014

Just Say No to Barry Trotz

While Randy Carlyle hasn't officially been fired as head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs, all indications continue to point to him being let go in the coming days or weeks.  This assumption has lead fans and journalists alike to debate and ponder who might be a good fit as the next coach of the Maple Leafs.  One name that many have linked to Toronto is long-time coach of the Nashville Predators Barry Trotz.  After 15 years of service behind the bench in Tenneessee, Trotz was let go earlier this month after one too many disappointing seasons.

Trotz does have an impressive resume though.  For a coach to last 15 years as a head coach in any professional sports league is a great achievement in itself, let alone to do it all with one team.  His 557 career wins are 13th on the all-time list in the NHL.  Most notably he lead the Predators to a 51 win season in the 2005-2006 season.  Along with this, he managed to lead Nashville to the playoffs seven times in eight years between 2004 and 2012.  Other accolades include two Jack Adams nominations (2010, 2011) and three appearances with Hockey Canada at the World Championships as an assistant coach (2002, 2003, and 2009).  Generally speaking, Trotz has long held the respect of hockey stakeholders for years, having the reputation of a coach who does more with less, leading a small-market team often devoid of star talent to numerous successful seasons.  So why don't I think Barry Trotz is a good fit in Toronto?

Barry Trotz has always coached a style that preached strong defense and a good forecheck.  Similar to this, his teams have a reputation for playing a "grind it out" style of hockey that at times can be equal parts both physical and suffocating.  In particular, while not necessarily known for generating offense, Trotz's teams try to lull you to sleep by limiting opponent chances.  His teams do tend to sit back in their own end, but try to keep opposing chances to the outside.  On another note, not known as a "players coach", Trotz doesn't really land on the other side of the spectrum as a hard coach either.  Rather, he lies somewhere in the middle, trying to be fair to his players but also strict, promising to give players a fair shake as long as they are willing to buy in to his desired brand of hockey.
Sound like anyone you know? 

You probably recognized in reading that paragraph about the way that Barry Trotz coaches that his style is strikingly similar to the way Randy Carlyle's teams play, or at least the way that his teams have attempted to play.  And maybe that isn't the worst thing in the world.  After all, as has already been mentioned, Trotz had a fair amount of success as the coach in Nashville.  Randy Carlyle similarly had success in Anaheim, winning the Stanley Cup in 2007.  And other coaches such as Lindy Ruff and Dave Tippett have garnered similar praise for similar styles.  My point isn't so much that this style can't work in the NHL.  Rather, the main question I'd like to ask you is: why would you want to hire a head coach that is so similar to the one you so badly want gone?  Maybe if the Leafs were still coming off Ron Wilson's run-and-gun style or maybe if they were fresh off a real players coach like Dallas Eakins hiring Barry Trotz would make some sense.  But why wouldn't you want a breath of fresh air after the way the Randy Carlyle era went in Toronto?  I think the fans are tired enough of seeing the style that Carlyle and Trotz employ.  And if you feel exhausted from watching it, imagine how tired the players themselves are of listening to it and trying to play it.

I think what the Leafs really need is new voices, new thoughts, and new ideas.  Maybe they need someone who is going to pat them on the back and be a real people manager and players coach.  Maybe they need someone who is willing to play an up-tempo and skilled game that the roster is tailored best for.  Maybe they need something else entirely.  The point that I'm trying to make though is that hiring a carbon copy of what has already failed in the past makes little sense.  Would you try the exact same thing over again and expect different results?  No?  So why should the Leafs?  That to me is why Barry Trotz isn't a good fit as the next head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs.  I'm not saying he's a bad coach, but because the team is fresh off of Randy Carlyle the timing to hire Trotz just isn't right.  And for that reason, Trotz isn't the right coach.

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