Why Barry Trotz would be a good fit as Golden Knights coach – The Athletic

    In an offseason with no shortage of experienced head coaches looking for work, Barry Trotz appears to be in the driver’s seat. The former Predators, Capitals and Islanders bench chief heads a strong group of free-agent coaches and could be at the top of the Golden Knights’ list for potential Peter Deboer replacements

    “Some people in the league have suggested to me that there might already be a deal with Barry Trotz and VGK,” ESPN’s Emily Kaplan said May 28. I have to wait to see where Barry Trotz lands before he drops the rest of the chips.”

    according to multiple reports, trotz has already met with winnipeg general manager kevin cheveldayoff, who hopes to lure trotz back to his home province. The athletic Pierre Lebrun reported that Trotz has spoken to varying degrees with the Golden Knights, the Flyers and the Red Wings, and that the stars might as well throw his hat into the ring.

    There’s no doubt about trotz’s trainability. won the third most games in nhl history, led the capitals to their first stanley cup victory in franchise history in 2018, a cup final well remembered by vegas fans, and most recently he led an impressive turnaround on long island. After missing the playoffs for two straight seasons, the Islanders signed Trotz in 2018-19. he led them to the second round of the postseason his freshman year, then to two consecutive trips to the conference finals.

    but the golden knights just fired deboer, who led his team to the conference finals those same seasons. they also sacked gerard gallant, who led vegas to a cup final and is now back in the conference finals with the rangers. Gallant and Deboer are both excellent trainers, but GM Kelly McCrimmon felt they weren’t the right fit.

    so is it trotz?

    It can certainly be argued that the trotz’s defense-first training style is similar to the deboer’s, but that’s a generalization. To dig into what kind of fit Trotz would be in Las Vegas, I reached out to three of the athletic beat writers who have personally covered Trotz at different stages of his career, starting with Adam Vingan, who covered Trotz’s first season in Washington ( 2014). -15).

    vingan said: “one of the first questions was what approach trotz would take with alex ovechkin and other attacking forwards from the capitals. Trotz rarely had that kind of firepower in Nashville, and Ovechkin in particular had been stifled by previous coach Dale Hunter’s defensive scheme. trotz worked with ovechkin to make it more complete, but trotz wasn’t going to make ovechkin into someone he wasn’t.

    “Case in point: ovechkin showed greater commitment to defense and still led the nhl with 185 goals in trotz’s four seasons. as a former predators player told me in 2020, ‘to see him go into a (situation) where defense comes first, but (also) you have possibly the greatest scorer to ever play in ovechkin and then (the forward of the predators) islanders mathew) barzal, i think it has fit even better. he became his own, and his training style became his own.”

    “if the golden knights sign trotz, fans shouldn’t worry about him turning jack eichel, max pacioretty and mark stone into pinwheels.”

    while deboer’s structured system may have limited some of vegas’ offensive creativity, trotz didn’t seem to have that effect in washington. however, there are certainly numbers to suggest that he stifled the Islanders’ offense a bit.

    In the three seasons before Trotz took over New York, the Islanders ranked in the top 10 in goals scored in the entire league. In the next four years under Trotz, the team never got higher than 20th. The Swap was a much more structured defensive team that improved from 31st in goals allowed in 2017–18 to allowing the fewest goals in the league the following season. under the tutelage of trotz.

    However, in Trotz’s four seasons in Washington, the Capitals have ranked in the top 10 in scoring all four years, and in the top three twice. It’s also worth noting that the Golden Knights may not be looking for a trainer with a different style of deboer. mccrimmon said something on May 16 that suggests otherwise.

    “We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel,” said mccrimmon. “There’s a style of play that I think works for us and suits us.”

    When asked what characteristics mccrimmon will be looking for in the next head coach, he responded, “I don’t think we’re willing to address a deficiency that we feel we have. We’re going to go through a process where we’re going to hire the best possible candidate that we can.” we can hire and we’ll bring him in to lead our team.”

    those answers strongly suggest that trotz fits what vegas is looking for. To substantiate that, McCrimmon’s strongest message after firing Deboer was that he believes the team needed a new voice. According to those who have covered Trotz in the past, that may be his strongest attribute behind the bench.

    arthur staple of the athletic, who covered the islanders for trotz’s four seasons, said: “trotz’s greatest strength is how he relates to his players. there aren’t many guys who have played for him over the years who have unhappy memories of their time with him. Trotz seems to be able to find the right level with each of his players and get the most out of them.

    “He preaches defense, clearly, but he’s also capable of coaching the talent level of his team. He hardly turned Ovechkin into a checking machine and tried not to stifle Mathew Barzal’s creativity, but Trotz seems to favor more experienced players who can adapt to his system better than younger ones who are still learning the ins and outs. a smart and reliable player like brock nelson can thrive with trotz, who will give more minutes to players who get what he wants faster.”

    atlético’s tarik el-bashir covered trotz’s entire stay in washington, and is in tune with basic’s opinion:

    “The three things that really stand out to me about the m.o. of trotz. they are 1. he is firm with his players, but still manages to endear himself to the room by speaking clearly, transparently and impartially; 2. Thanks to three decades as a head coach in the pros, he knows where to find his players’ buttons and when to push them; and 3. he surrounds himself with sharp hockey minds, delegates authority, and then lets his assistants do their thing.”

    trotz demonstrated in nashville, washington and new york that he can get more out of his players than most, at least in part because of the ties he establishes with them, and that may be exactly what the golden knights are looking for.

    if las vegas signed trotz, which golden knights players would benefit the most and which would see reduced roles based on coaches’ preferences? Staple made an interesting comment, that Trotz seems to favor experienced players who learn his systems quickly over younger players learning the ropes, and el-bashir echoed that sentiment.

    “That doesn’t mean trotz is perfect,” said el-bashir. “He is old school and dogged in a game that is evolving. As good as he is at handling stars like Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov, he can also frustrate players who are still finding their way. “We are not in a development league, we are in a winning league,” he once said after scratching a young Jakub Vrana.”

    The vegas roster also seems to suit trotz’s preferences, as it is full of talented veterans with very few young pieces to work with. In terms of learning the system quickly, high IQ players like Stone, Pacioretty, Alex Pietrangelo, and Reilly Smith are most important. Vegas has plenty of other defensively responsible forwards, like William Karlsson, Nicolas Roy and Chandler Stephenson, who could thrive in Trotz’s system. Trotz may be less inclined to elevate the roles of potential rookies like Brendan Brisson or Ivan Morozov, but for the most part, the Vegas roster is very experienced.

    trotz has also worked well with robin lehner. His first season in New York was the best of Lehner’s career, when he won the Jennings Trophy and was a finalist for the Vezina Trophy.

    “(the decision) is about starting with a fresh voice,” mccrimmon said on May 16. “It’s about starting with a reinvigorated team. it’s about having a group of players with something to prove, and that’s the attitude I want to adopt for next season.”

    If Vegas was looking for an offensive guru to fix a long-suffering power play, Trotz wouldn’t be the choice. But if the Golden Knights want a respected leader to galvanize the players, Trotz’s no-nonsense management style and impressive track record make him an excellent choice for just about every box McCrimmon hopes to check. Now can the golden knights lure and catch their big fish once more?

    (photo by barry trotz: bruce bennett/getty images)

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