After Wednesday night’s win against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz passes Ron Wilson to earn a spot on the NHL’s top 10 list of coaches with the most wins.
Trotz, who has posted 649 career wins, indicates that it makes him feel, “awkward”. He also feels awkward because he never dreamed that this moment would come. He fondly remembers the awe he felt his first night coaching in Nashville, “I just wanted to step up on it [the bench] once,” but somehow he managed to make it through his first year.
Trotz NHL coaching debut was in 1998, also the inaugural year for the Nashville Predators who wound up the season second to last in their conference with a 28–47–7 record. Those first five seasons were rough years for the Predators until the 2003-2004 season when they made the playoffs for the first time. Since then, under Trotz, they made the playoffs eight of the 11 following years.
While the Stanley Cup eluded the Predators, they earned a reputation as defensively strong and physical team. For five straight years, the Predators ranked among the top five teams with the fewest penalty minutes and Trotz achieved a 555-479-100 record while coaching there.
In May 2014, Trotz joined the Washington Capitals organization after the Predators announced that he would not retain the Predators coaching position and he has led the Capitals to great success with 127 victories since the 2014 season.
To Trotz, his past 18 years as an NHL coach have flown by quickly. The winning records that he has established at both the Predators and Capitals organizations serves as a great indicator of his leadership skills on and off the ice. However, to have his name associated with NHL greats such as Jacques Lamaire, well, to the humble coach of the Capitals; it just feels “awkward”.
By Stephanie Judge