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Monday morning, the New York Islanders announced they have fired head coach Barry Trotz. Trotz has spent the last four seasons with the Islanders, accumulating a 152-102-34 record over those campaigns. This season, the Isles entered the season with expectations, and fell well short, missing the playoffs for the first time in Trotz’s tenure.
Regardless of New York’s shortcomings this season, Trotz immediately becomes the hottest coaching candidate on the market. Should Kyle Davidson and the Blackhawks make a move to name Trotz their next head coach? Would Trotz have any interest in a rebuilding team? The CHGO Blackhawks crew shares their thoughts below.
Jay Zawaski: Last month, when we had Blackhawks interim head coach Derek King on the show, King discussed how coaches he played for like Al Arbour and Joel Quenneville had an immediate presence…a command of the room that players could not ignore. The opportunity to introduce instant credibility to a young locker room is very tempting. The Blackhawks would eliminate the learning curve a new head coach would have to work through. It would also eliminate the “winning the players over” period.
On the ice, Trotz instantly makes the team better and more competitive. When he took over the Islanders, they were the league’s worst defensive team. The next year, they were top five.
There’s no question that Trotz is one of the top coaches in the NHL. I would love it if the Blackhawks could convince him to come lead a rebuild in Chicago.
I don’t want Kyle Davidson to stray from his plan. One thing we’ve learned about Davidson is that he has a vision for today, tomorrow, next month, next year, and several years down the road. I don’t want him to stray from that. He clearly has the template of his ideal head coaching candidate in his head. If Trotz doesn’t fit that template, I don’t want Davidson to panic and hire the hottest name simply because he’s there.
Trotz is also known as a demanding and tough coach. His message wore thin on Long Island, and he might not be a great fit for a team ready to lose most nights. We’ve discussed the A to B coach, as Denis Savard was ahead of Joel Quenneville. Trotz, or someone like Trotz, might be a better fit as B to C.
Greg Boysen: There is an argument that Trotz can slide right in behind the bench of every NHL team right now. I would love to see him in Chicago. He has been one of my favorite coaches for quite some time. He is exactly what the Blackhawks need. This team needs its defensive systems burned to the ground and rebuilt. Trotz is the guy to do it.
However, he may not want to be part of a rebuilding team. He is a coach entering the twilight of his career, and he could be looking to win right now. A team like the Detroit Red Wings would be far more appealing. If squads that have Stanley Cup aspirations like the Vegas Golden Knights or Toronto Maple Leafs are looking to make a change this summer, he would likely be on the top of their lists.
Even if he does want to come to the Blackhawks, I will echo with Jay said and hope Davidson doesn’t make the big move for the sake of making a big move. If Trotz is his ideal head coach, I will pick him up from the airport and drive him to the United Center. But, if he is not, stick to the plan and get your guy.
I have seen some worries that getting Trotz here would stunt the offensive production of offensive stars like Alex DeBrincat and Patrick Kane. Well, the numbers suggest otherwise. In his four seasons with the Washington Capitals, a team with plenty of offensive talent, they scored 242 goals (tied for 6th in the NHL), 252 goals (2nd in the NHL), 263 goals (3rd in the NHL), and 259 goals (9th in the NHL). Alex Ovechkin had seasons of 53, 50, 33, and 49 goals. So the idea that the team’s best offensive players will be suffocated by playing in Trotz’s defensive system isn’t accurate.
I don’t think Trotz will be the next Blackhawks head coach, but I would sure love to see it.
Mario Tirabassi: If Barry Trotz wants to have his hands all over a rebuilding team and bring the Chicago Blackhawks back to prominence in the NHL, then I can think of no one better to walk into the locker room on Day One and make the team better than Trotz. When we talked with interim head coach Derek King, he spoke about playing for coaches that have a presence in the locker room and how he doesn’t have that cache. Trotz does.
What more needs to be said about the resume he brings to the table as a head coach in the NHL? Two Jack Adams awards as league Coach of the Year, a Stanley Cup, over a dozen trips to the postseason, and on and on. The biggest question is if Trotz sees the opportunity with the Blackhawks as something that aligns with what he wants to do as a coach at this point in his career? Would he rather take the wheel of a team on the cusp, like Detroit? Or does he want to be the guy from start to finish from the bottom floor on up in Chicago?
His stifling, defensive-focused style makes for agonizing hockey to watch, but damned if it’s not proven to work when his teams buy-in. Does that factor into the minds of offensive guys like Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat? Maybe, but I think most hockey players will trade individual success for a chance to win Stanley Cups.
It would be a mistake for Blackhawks GM Kyle Davidson to not at least have a conversation with Trotz to gauge his interest in Chicago’s plans. If he’s interested, he should be the top target for the job. If.
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