Predators lock up Trotz

LANCE HORNBY, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 8:23 AM ET

NASHVILLE — The song remains the same for the Predators’ coaching staff, but there is no concerted effort in Music City to tune out Barry Trotz.

It was revealed a few days ago that the Preds’ first ever coach has been extended yet again by their first ever general manager David Poile, this time through 2010-11, with another club option on 2011-12. Trotz and Lindy Ruff of the Buffalo Sabres are the current NHL leaders in employment by the same team, both hired in 1997, though Ruff’s appointment was a year before Nashville started playing.

How have Trotz and associate coach Brent Peterson survived growing pains of an expansion franchise and playoff disappointments, without sounding like a broken records to their players?

“I’ve been very fortunate to work for a GM who understands the whole process,” Trotz said of Poile, “Unlike the market in Toronto when you lose two games and (perception) is that you have a bad coach and you have to move.

“I’ve been with David in one capacity or another for 25 years and he allows you to find your answer — and not necessarily outside the dressing room. Therefore, you become a stronger team, a more galvanized team and one that has accountability. In certain situations, that accountability goes out the door because the easiest thing to do is move the coach.”

This could be the year the Preds’ players finally reward Trotz and do something in the playoffs after a series of quick exits after the NHL lockout and a 10th-place showing last season. The struggles of such teams as Detroit and Vancouver this year could see Nashville land home ice in the first round of the playoffs.

“I change (philosophy) up a little bit every couple of years,” Trotz said. “(Getting tuned out by players) is a little bit of a fallacy. You have a certain foundation in the way that you play and the expectations you have. If it’s the right message, why the hell would you want to change it? Detroit and New Jersey have the same message for years and it has worked for them.

“It’s not about the voice, it’s about people buying into what you’re selling. If everyone knows that you come in to play the Predators and there’s a certain way we play and have a responsibility to each other, then accountability is very, very strong.”

Poile is something of a survivor himself, having steered the team through some murky waters when the salary cap was introduced and the cash-strapped Predators were going through ownership wrangles that required a frugal approach. Yet Poile told The Tennessean Monday that he’s glad he stuck it out, twice declining a front office role with the Leafs.

Poile met with then-Leaf president Ken Dryden in 1997 after being let go by the Washington Capitals, but when the expansion Preds followed up on an offer they made prior to his interview with Dryden, Poile felt obligated to take it. Another chance arose in the summer of 2007 when Craig Leipold was selling the Preds and the Leafs were looking for a senior advisor to John Ferguson. Poile was given permission to talk to the Leafs, but decided he liked it where he was.

“The Toronto job and the Nashville job couldn’t be further apart in terms of the hockey spectrum,” Poile said. “But I was really excited about starting things from ground zero (in 1997). With Nashville, I knew I would have my fingerprints over everything we did.

“Even at the start of this year it was ‘little old Nashville’ where no one gave us a chance to be competitive.”

lance.hornby@sunmedia.ca


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