For my money, Barry Trotz is the most underrated coach in the NHL. He reached his 400th career coaching win – all with the scrappy little Nashville Predators – in a 2-1 victory over the Atlanta Thrashers on Tuesday.
The win seems fitting on a few levels. First, obviously, is the low scoring and defensively stout performance that surely had to please the odd looking coach. But perhaps the most fitting thing about the victory was how lightly regarded the accomplishment was; I just found out about it maybe an hour ago while perusing On the Forecheck.
As a documented meanie, I always feel the need to at least make one joke about Trotz’s appearance even though I’m usually writing something glowing about him. When I wrote about Trotz and Tennessee Titans coach
Mike Jeff Fisher’s atypically long coaching runs, I wondered if Nashville was breeding vampire coaches but also made sure to say that Trotz looks more like a “Dungeons and Dragons” creature than a bloodsucker.
These jokes overshadow a coach whose skills and tenacity allowed him to squeeze all those wins out of a team that gets by more on “pluck” than skill. He’s seen his best players leave through free agency, money saving trades and even – in the case of Alex Radulov – to go to Russia. Trotz has kept the Predators competitive against considerable odds.
So how about this: in a tribute to his 400th win, I’m not going to make fun of Barry Trotz’s appearance anymore. (Or at least I’m going to try really, really hard. Just like coach Trotz would want.)