His skates are probably somewhere in the garage and Barry Trotz hasn’t been on ice since his last practice as Islanders coach 18 months ago.
Now in his first season as the Nashville Predators general manager — back with the organization where his NHL coaching career began in 1998 — the likely future Hall of Famer believes his time behind the bench is over even as he admits he misses it.
“I miss the chaos on the bench,” Trotz told Newsday on Thursday as he sat in the Madison Square Garden stands watching the Predators’ morning skate before they faced the Rangers. “I miss the daily interaction with the players and the coaches. At the same time, I’ve enjoyed the other part of it, some of the managing and creating rosters and different things. But I find, during the games, I really miss the games. Practices? I don’t really miss that.
“I can honestly say I have no intentions of coaching again. My coaching career, you can put it in an envelope. The only way that could happen is if something happened here and you might see me for a day back there.”
If so, Trotz finishes with a career record of 914-670-60 (ties)-168 (overtime losses). He went 152-102-34 (overtime losses) in four seasons with the Islanders that included two trips to the NHL semifinals and won the Stanley Cup with the Capitals in 2018. He’s second on the NHL’s all-time list with 1,812 games coached — Hall of Famer Scotty Bowman is first with 2,141 — and third all-time in wins behind Bowman’s 1,244 and Joel Quenneville’s 969.
Trotz’s mission now is rebuilding the Predators and instilling a new culture. He fired coach John Hynes and replaced him with Andrew Brunette while also revamping the front office and scouting staff.
“He’s pretty honest with us, if we’re not playing well, he’ll let us know,” said Predators defenseman Ryan McDonagh, the former Rangers captain. “But he’s been unbelievably supportive. He understands the importance of bringing a group together and how to create a tight-knit family. Nashville is pumped to have him back, too.”
Trotz took most of last season off after Islanders president/general manager Lou Lamoriello fired him on May 9, 2022, promoting Trotz’s long-time lieutenant Lane Lambert a week later.
Trotz said he has talked to Lamoriello on a frequent basis since being fired, both when he was unemployed and after the Predators rehired him to succeed the retiring David Poile. That included a call Thursday morning.
“Probably more than he wants,” Trotz said, laughing. “No, he’s been very supportive.”
Trotz, who long championed Lambert to get an NHL head coaching job, praised the job he was doing with the Islanders even if it came at Trotz’s expense.
“He’s been exactly what I thought,” Trotz said. “Some coaches would be a little bit miffed. It’s just human nature. But I always said this to all my coaching staff that I got the business part of it. I wanted my staff to be involved in the whole process. I’d say, ‘At some point, I’m going to get let go and I want you to be one of the guys who replaces me.’
“Not that I wanted to get fired . . . [But] if you’re replacing me, fantastic. It meant as a friend and a colleague, you were advancing.”
Trotz still believes the Islanders are one of the NHL’s better teams and takes issue with them being characterized as aging.
“They’ve added a little more speed with [Pierre] Engvall and a little more depth with [Bo] Horvat,” Trotz said. “Age is only a number. They get in, they’re going to be a tough out.
“They have as good a shot as anybody.”