Barry Trotz

Poll: Is Barry Trotz an elite coach in the NHL?


If there’s anyone who’s been a mainstay in their job in the NHL it’s Predators coach Barry Trotz.

Since the team began operations in 1998, Trotz has been the man behind the bench. That’s 14 seasons and never once has he been threatened to be dismissed.  After Lindy Ruff was fired by the Buffalo Sabres, Trotz became the longest-tenured coach in the NHL.

With that in mind, here’s a question to ponder:  Is Barry Trotz an elite NHL coach?

Think of the guys around the league you might consider for that label: Mike Babcock, Joel Quenneville, Dave Tippett, Claude Julien. All except Tippett have won a Stanley Cup but he hasn’t had the luxury of steady ownership. Trotz too has been running a team that’s had financial restrictions of a different kind.

GM David Poile has only recently spent big bucks and that was to match the Flyers’ offer sheet for captain Shea Weber. His monster deal aside, anyone that’s come to Nashville has done so with a modest contract and without superstar talent.

Yet still over those 14 seasons, the Predators have made the playoffs seven times. It wasn’t until their sixth season in the league that they made the postseason the first time, but since then they’ve only missed out twice. That kind of success says he’s doing something right.

There are some things working against him. Nashville has never won a division title. It wasn’t until the 2010-11 season that they finally escaped the first round of the playoffs. Last season saw them wind up the fourth-worst team in the league and their worst win percentage since 2001-02.

Does longevity mean being an elite coach though? That’s the debate here. Let us know what you think in our poll.


Oilers go captain-less, name four alternates instead

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Edmonton’s made a fairly significant shift in its leadership group.

The big news is the Oilers won’t have a captain this season, as Andrew Ference will relinquish the “C” he’s worn for the last two years.

Ference will, however, remain part of the group and wear an “A” as part of a four-man alternate captain collective, one that also includes Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall.

The news of Ference being removed as captain doesn’t come as a huge surprise. The veteran d-man is a well-respected leader, but isn’t expected to be in the lineup every night this season.

The decision to go without a captain, though, is something of a surprise, especially given what new head coach Todd McLellan endured during his final season in San Jose.

The Sharks’ captaincy issue — stripping Joe Thornton, then going with four rotating alternates — was an ongoing problem, something that players, coaches and GM Doug Wilson had to repeatedly address until it blew up in spectacular fashion.

That said, the circumstances in Edmonton are quite different.

It’s believed the club’s intentionally keeping the captaincy vacant, on the assumption that Connor McDavid will evolve into a superstar and, subsequently, the club’s unquestioned leader.

Finally, McLellan noted that with Eberle currently sidelined, a fifth Oiler would be added to the leadership group — veteran forward Matt Hendricks, who will serve as a temporary alternate.

Brandon Sutter didn’t have the greatest preseason

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When Brandon Sutter was acquired by the Vancouver Canucks, GM Jim Benning called the 26-year-old a “foundation piece for our group going forward.”

Sutter was quickly signed to a five-year extension worth almost $22 million, more evidence of how highly management thought of the player.

Fast forward to yesterday, when Benning was asked the following question:

“What does it say that you made the trade for Sutter, you called him a ‘foundation’ player, and it took him until the final night of the preseason to find a spot (with the Sedins) on the wing, which isn’t his natural position?”

Here was Benning’s response:

“Well, [head coach Willie Desjardins] wants to try that out, he thinks that’s going to be a good fit. At various times, the Sedins played with wingers with speed, with [Ryan Kesler], who could get in on the forecheck and had a good shot. Sutter brings some of those qualities, too.”

While all that may be true, Sutter was not signed to play the wing; he was brought in to play center, specifically on the second line. He finished the preseason with zero points in five games. And as mentioned, he’ll start the season on the wing, not his natural position.

Meanwhile, youngsters Bo Horvat, 20, and Jared McCann, 19, had outstanding camps and are expected to start the regular season (tonight in Calgary) centering the second and third lines, respectively.

Though Sutter did finish the preseason with 12 shots on goal, up there with the most on the Canucks, it’s fair to say he did not look like a “foundation” player.

“I haven’t seen him play his best,” Desjardins said last week. “I see a guy who’s big and a good skater and who understands the game real well, but just hasn’t got that involved.”

Now, we are only talking about the preseason here. New players often take time to get comfortable. Perhaps playing with the Sedins can provide Sutter with some confidence.

“I know he’ll be there and I totally believe that,” said Desjardins.

But it hasn’t been the best start, and if it wasn’t for the encouraging play of the youngsters, it would be a far bigger story in Vancouver.

Related: Canucks roll the dice on rookies, waive Vey and Corrado