The National Hockey League will not be graced by Barry Trotz’s presence in the 2022-23 season. On Friday, the 59-year-old veteran bench boss announced that he will be taking a break from coaching for the time being.
Having been fired by the New York Islanders following a disastrous 2021-22 campaign – to which Trotz’s men battled a number of COVID-related issues, a delayed arena opening, and various other team problems. After bringing the Islanders from one of the worst-ranked teams defensively league-wide to the second-best team in his first and second years at the helm, Trotz saw his club fall out of postseason contention and was ultimately canned early on in the offseason.
In his first two years, the Islanders made it all the way to the Eastern Conference Final, to which the team fell to the reigning back-to-back Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning; Trotz’s effort was highly praised. His players, local media and fans alike were shaken up upon hearing of his firing by Islanders’ general manager Lou Lamoriello.
After immediately jumping to the top of every NHL’s club’s coaching wish list, Trotz did move from club to club for official interviews, with Philadelphia, Vegas, and Winnipeg advancing as the potential frontrunners. With Boston recently announcing yet another shocking firing of Bruce Cassidy, the Golden Knights opted to move on from the ‘Trotz watch’ and pick up the ‘next best thing’ in Cassidy, to which they signed last week.
Then, on Friday, the big man from Dauphin, Manitoba – who had been linked to the Jets since being relieved of his duties – announced that he would not be coaching at all during 2022-23. His rationale was that of a much-deserved break.
“You can’t do this job unless you’re 100 percent committed to giving everything 24/7,” Trotz said in an exclusive interview with NHL.com’s Tim Campbell Friday afternoon. “I had some opportunities presented to me but I knew I couldn’t commit and I wanted to go through the process. I know everybody’s timeline was different… but I said I’m in no hurry and I need some time.”
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For Trotz, it was a number of pressing family issues that weighed heavily on his mind during his discernment process.
“I’ve got some things personally that I’ve got to take care of, family-wise that I’ve got to take care of,” he “explained to Campbell. “I didn’t feel… if I’d said I’ll take the job, I think I would have done any team a little bit of a disservice and myself a disservice because to be a coach in the NHL, it is demanding and it requires your all. It just does, emotionally it just does, mentally it just does. So I couldn’t go down that path.”
Owning the NHL’s third-best record all-time (914-670-168-60 in 1,812 regular season games) over 24 seasons with Nashville, Washington and New York, Trotz will take a backseat to his family for at least one calendar year.
“I had to turn away free beer and free tickets and all that stuff,” he laughed in his chat with Campbell. ” I know I’m a good coach but you can’t be a good coach if you’re not fully committed. You can’t be at this game. So I’ll use this year to do what I need to do with my family and if I get back into coaching, I’ll be fully in.”
Yes, Trotz was actually promised free beer, food, and gas amongst various other things – all marketing ploys from local companies to help draw him in.
The Jets actually moved to the front of the pack and were the finalists for Trotz’s services. He did appreciate the offers and the Jets’ push for the local product.
“Winnipeg came after me in terms of wanting me to be part of the organization and I was really impressed with their commitment to winning, their commitment with [Kevin Cheveldayoff] as (general) manager. I know [assistant GM Craig Heisinger] and other people there. I’ve got relatives that work for the Jets and friends that work security there, people I went to school with. I know lots about the Jets. They’ve got a tremendous organization and a real family atmosphere. But I could not commit to any team; it wasn’t just Winnipeg, it was every team that I had talked to because I had to know I was 100 percent in.”
So now Winnipeg is in between a rock and a hard place. Having put all their eggs in the Trotz family farm basket and having the veteran play-caller walk away, the team will need to look elsewhere for its next head coach. With a number of big names off the board already, the Jets will need to move fast before the market saturates even further. The NHL Draft, free agency, and training camp are all on the board in the coming weeks.
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