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Trotz hopes NHL lockout ends soon
Nov 15, 2012 12:00 am
By Mary Hinds
Nashville Predators head coach Barry Trotz told Lebanon Rotarians on Tuesday he hopes the National Hockey League lockout will be resolved soon for a number of reasons beyond actually hitting the ice again.
Trotz visited the Lebanon Lunch Rotary Club to explain the chances of a season for 2012-13.
He was introduced by Rotary Program Chairman Damon Petty as an "underemployed hockey coach." Trotz, who sported an arm brace, said Petty "twisted his arm" to get him to speak at the Rotary meeting.
"I've spoken to various Rotary Clubs over the years," he said. "In a good hockey season, I probably wouldn't be here, but with the lockout I have some time. As for the lockout, I hope it is resolved soon."
He said when the Predators are playing at home, they lure thousands of people to downtown Nashville, where they spend money to help the local economy.
"You want a vibrant downtown where people feel safe and for the city to grow," he said. "Now Nashville will have the new fabulous, big convention center. I think we'll get the NHL All-Star Game in a couple of years, and that will bring a lot of people to town."
On a personal note, he said he needs to get back to work or face the wrath of his wife.
"We need to get this resolved so my wife won't be so angry," he said. "Every morning when we wake up she says the same thing, 'You are going to work today, right?'"
Trotz said the team's ownership has been great, encouraging the players to use their time during the lockout to get out and help the community, and for not laying off workers associated with the team. He also kept the Rotarians in suspense about a mysterious event.
"There will be a surprise [Tuesday night], so watch the late news," he said. "I want to tell you what it is, but I can't."
There was some speculation among the Rotarians that the news might be an announcement that the lockout was ending, but no one knew for sure.
Trotz reminisced about 1997 when he was a rookie head coach in Nashville – a "non-traditional" market for hockey.
"I had black hair then in kind of a mullet, and I weighted about 197 pounds," he said. "Now I have a skullett, and I'm 40 pounds heavier."
He said he has come to appreciate the greater Nashville area and how people have welcomed him.
"It's a place that's become home to me and my family," Trotz said. "The Nashville Predators have grown from a team that was a bit of a novelty with ownership out of Wisconsin, to a threat to win the Stanley Cup."
Trotz, a Canadian, said he was living in Portland, Maine when he accepted the head coaching job with the Predators. A lot of people there said told him he would love Nashville.
"They were right. Southern hospitality is real. That's the Tennessee way, big time," he told the Rotarians. "I'm a Southern guy now. You'll never see my butt back in Canada."
He said the Detroit Red Wings used to be the gold standard in the NHL.
"Now we're setting the standard, and they are emulating us," Trotz said.
He said he blames both NHL owners and players for the lockout that has stunted the professional hockey season, referring to both sides in the dispute as "headstrong."
"I'm Switzerland," Trotz said. "I'm sure we can figure this out."
He then took questions from the audience. One Rotarian asked him, "if you were a betting man," as to when he thought the NHL season would start. Trotz jokingly said since the press was present he wanted to make it clear he doesn't bet, but he is optimistic the season would begin soon.
"I do believe we're going to play," he said, speculating after a short training camp, players could be ready to go by December.
Another asked about his players’ conditioning as the lockout continues. He said his players are not at their best level of fitness.
"They've had no physical contact for five months," he Trotz said. "There's a hardness that comes with contact."
Trotz said both coaches and players have to keep busy and focused during a lockout.
"This is my second lockout," he said. "I tell my players to stay as busy as they can, speak to Rotary Clubs and to enjoy their families as much as they can."
Finally, he was asked why All-Star Ryan Sutter, who recently opted to leave the team for the Minnesota Wild, didn't stay with the Nashville team.
"The most I can say about that is the man is the head of the household, but the wife is the neck, and she can turn the head any way she wants," he said as the Rotarians laughed and nodded their heads in agreement. "I'm not going to worry about that, we don't make excuses, we just move forward."
At the conclusion of his speech, Trotz was given a Rotary Club coffee mug with the caveat that it wasn't a Stanley Cup.
"Every coach lives on coffee, so this will come in handy," Trotz said.
Staff writer Mary Hinds may be reached at 615-444-3952, ext. 45 or email@example.com.