Barry Trotz won’t be coaching in the NHL next season, saying he’s sure he can’t give the time and commitment to do any job to his standards.
In an exclusive interview with NHL.com on Friday, the 59-year-old said he’s struggled long and hard with the decision to take another job in the league since being fired by the New York Islanders on May 9. He determined it was time to put family and personal matters first.
“I have some things that I have to take care of personally, family-wise that I have to take care of,” Trotz said on Friday. “I didn’t feel… if I had said I would take the job I think I would have done any team a bit of a disservice and myself a disservice because being a coach in the NHL is demanding and it takes everything you have. It’s right, emotionally it’s right, mentally it’s right. So I couldn’t go that route.
“That doesn’t mean I’m not going to coach. I’m just not going to coach right now. I’ve been doing this for 25 years in a row and I’ve put a lot of things on the back burner and I think it’s time. The only thing I know, and it’s a mistake everyone makes, is that you think you have time and you don’t. I have to deal with it, to have peace of mind for everything, so I’ll be 100% if I get back to it and I’ll be a better coach for it.
Trotz has a career record of 914-670-168 with 60 ties in 1,812 regular season games (.567 percentage points) with the Nashville Predators, Washington Capitals and New York Islanders since 1998-99 .
He coached the second most games in NHL history, behind Scotty Bowman (2,141) and his 914 wins are the third in history, behind Bowman (1,244) and Joel Quenneville (969).
Trotz qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 14 of his 23 seasons as a coach and is 83-79 in the playoffs. He won the Stanley Cup with the Capitals in 2018.
Trotz won the Jack Adams Award as NHL Coach of the Year twice, in 2015-16 with the Capitals and 2018-19 with the Islanders.
Trotz, who is from Manitoba, was a candidate to coach the Winnipeg Jets, but told the team on Friday he would not be coaching next season.
“Winnipeg went with me wanting me to be part of the organization and I was really impressed with their commitment to winning, their commitment to [Kevin Cheveldayoff] as (general) director. I know [assistant GM Craig Heisinger] and other people there. I have relatives who work for the Jets and friends who work there in security, people I went to school with. I know a lot about the Jets. They have a great organization and a real family atmosphere. But I couldn’t join any team; It wasn’t just Winnipeg, it was every team I spoke to because I needed to know I was 100 per cent.”
Trotz said when the Islanders fired him after four seasons and he started having discussions with other teams, he quickly realized he shouldn’t rush into a decision.
“You can’t do this job unless you’re 100% committed to giving it your all 24/7,” he said. “Opportunities were presented to me but I knew I couldn’t commit and wanted to go through the process. I know everyone’s timeline was different…but I said I’m in no rush and that I need time.
“Knowing that was really tough because I saw the commitment of what Winnipeg was a), ready to do, their commitment to win and all that and [b)], their people. They are good people. I’ve spoken to a number of teams full of good people, but this one was tough for me because it’s my home province. I have a lot of people that I know and a lot of people that I have met in the past. And I knew how passionate that fan base is.
“I had to turn down free beer and free tickets and all that. I know I’m a good coach, but you can’t be a good coach if you’re not fully committed. You can’t be to this game. So I’m going to use this year to do what I have to do with my family and if I go back to coaching I’ll be fully into it.”
Born in Winnipeg and raised 190 miles northwest of the town of Dauphin, Man., Trotz said the idea of returning to work in the NHL in his home province was strong.
“Maybe that’s where the cloudiness came in, because of this strong pull,” Trotz said. “And then you see the commitment to winning that they have and ‘Chevy’ and Mark [Chipman, Jets chairman and governor] and [Heisinger] and all these people are people you want to work with.
“So that attraction was strong, but at the same time you have to look within and say, ‘Do what’s right.’ Some of the best advice I’ve ever received was when you have a tough decision, do what’s good, don’t do what’s popular or do what people expect or want you to do. When I looked inside, I knew what was good. is right for me to take a step back here and do the things that I have to do. I love the game and I love doing what I’ve done and without the game or without hockey it’s hard. It will be strange for me. I was [coaching] for 26 years, so all of a sudden I might be looking sideways for a while.”
Trotz said he was in no way embittered as a coach or in the NHL this season after the Islanders (37-35-10) failed to make the playoffs for the first times in four seasons. New York had made the third round of the playoffs each of the past two seasons.
“No, not at all,” he said. “It was just weird. We had a weird season. I’ve been in the League for a long time and you can only control what you can control and there were a lot of things that were out of our control. I can honestly say zero point zero on this i totally get it and i have so much respect for Lou [Lamoriello, Islanders GM]. I spoke to him today. We have a great relationship. It wasn’t a factor at all.”
Trotz said while he’s taking a break from the NHL, he’s determined to stay on top of what’s happening in the league and won’t let a slew of relationships slip away.
“I always stay in the know, so trust me, I’ll be watching,” Trotz said. “I’ll talk to people. I’ll do all those things that I’ve always done to stay up to date and what the League is about because it’s always changing.
“[It’s] an opportunity to energize myself and do good with the time I have. I will stay involved. I still have a good relationship with Lou and the Islanders, a good relationship with the teams I’ve been with in the past and the players and the coaches. I will stay involved and when I feel ready to come back I will be on both feet and watch myself go. I just need time. I said this upfront to everyone I spoke to. I need time. I just do. I didn’t want to sell anyone what I can do. When you sign up, you must be all-in. That’s how you win. You’re going to see him on TV night after night in the Stanley Cup playoffs. You have to be thorough. And I take that personally too.