I had been a somewhat casual hockey fan prior to becoming a Predators season ticket holder in 2006. I attended my first game in 1999, bought my first ticket in 2004 and having a series of ice packs to get through the post-lockout season in 2005. However, for the 2006-07 season, I took the plunge and became a full season ticket holder – a package which gave me the benefit of admission to the “Meet the Team” event.
It was at that event that I first met Barry Trotz. Honestly, I do not remember if I said anything to him or not, but he shook my hand, introduced himself and thanked me for coming.
In 2011, I had been writing for Section 303 for a year and decided to branch out and start my own blog in an effort to get a media credential to cover the team. During my first foray in training camp, I decided to write a story about the potential battle for the back-up goaltender position. While Jeremy Gover, Robby Stanley and I gathered around Barry Trotz, he responded to one of Jeremy’s questions and mentioned in an addendum that the goaltender situation was settled going into the season.
However, I wanted a little more detail, so I asked him to clarify. It took a little bit of courage to get the question out since I had never actually talked to him. As a fan, I knew what to expect. I had no idea what to expect as a member of the media.
“Did I stutter?” Trotz responded to me.
I was horrified…until Trotz’s face suddenly turned into a big grin, patted me on the shoulder and answered my question. I didn’t write the story, mainly because there wasn’t much of one there, but I learned pretty quickly that Barry Trotz was not a scary person.
A couple of days later, I ran in the Best Buddies 5k in Franklin and saw Barry Trotz. He was with his family, so I was going to let him go along on his merry way. Instead, he walked over, shook my hand and thanked me for coming.
He had a thing for doing that.
Once, after a shutout, after we had turned our recorders off, Trotz left the press room telling us, “See you all at Dunkin Donuts tomorrow!”
Only once did I ever see Barry Trotz lose his cool directly at someone.
At the start of the lockout shortened 2012-13 season, Shea Weber took a while to find the score sheet. When he finally did find it, Jim Diamond asked Trotz about it.
Trotz then went on a rant to Jim about how only the media cares about that sort of thing.
It was honestly a little uncomfortable…and then everything went back to normal.
When he walked out of the room at the end, we heard Trotz tell Gerry Helper to, “Tell Jim I’m sorry.”
After one game a group of college students were allowed to come into the postgame press conference.
During the middle, one of the students raised his hand…and Trotz took his question.
“I’m just a freelance journalist, what’s your philosophy on coaching?”
When Trotz asked for clarification, the student asked if Trotz treated his players like coworkers or employees.
“I treat them like human beings,” Trotz said.
Perhaps not coincidentally, that was the last time we saw a college class in the press conference.
Around halfway through this season, Trotz apparently decided to stop drinking out of his postgame water bottle that he brought to the press conference after each game.
When the press conference was done, he would always offer it up to one of us, usually with the selling point that it was a “free (varying exorbitant dollar amount) water”. Every so often he would tell us not to sell it on eBay.
When I started writing these little vignettes, I was simply getting them down so I could use them to build a larger narrative about Barry Trotz.
However, once I got them down on paper, I realized that they pretty much told the story on their own.
I will not deny that I was one of the people who called for change, but it does not change the way I feel about Barry Trotz as a person. Nashville may find a coach who produces better results on the ice, but they will be hard-pressed to find a better human being than Barry Trotz.