Barry Trotz will not coach in the NHL next season, saying he’s certain he’s not in a position to give the time and commitment required to do any job at his standard.
In an exclusive interview with NHL.com on Friday, the 59-year-old said he wrestled long and hard with the decision about taking another job in the League since being fired by the New York Islanders on May 9. He determined that it is time to put family and personal matters first.
“I’ve got some things personally that I’ve got to take care of, family-wise that I’ve got to take care of,” Trotz said Friday. “I didn’t feel… if I’d said I’ll take the job, I think I would have done any team a little bit of a disservice and myself a disservice because to be a coach in the NHL, it is demanding and it requires your all. It just does, emotionally it just does, mentally it just does. So I couldn’t go down that path.
“It doesn’t mean I’m not going to coach. Just not going to coach right now. I’ve been doing this for 25 straight years and I’ve put a lot of stuff on the back burner and I think it’s time . The one thing I do know, and it’s a mistake that everybody makes, is you think you have time and you don’t. And so this is my time when I can get to a lot of things I’ve put on the back burner. I have to take care of those, for peace of mind for everything so I will be 100 percent in if I get back into 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 has coached the second-most games in NHL history, behind Scotty Bowman (2,141) and his 914 wins are the third-most in history, behind Bowman (1,244) and Joel Quenneville (969).
Trotz has qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 14 of his 23 seasons as a coach and is 83-79 in the postseason. He won the Stanley Cup with the Capitals in 2018.
Trotz has won the Jack Adams Award as NHL coach of the year twice, in 2015-16 with the Capitals and in 2018-19 with the Islanders.
Trotz, who is from Manitoba, was a candidate for Winnipeg Jets coaching job, but told the team on Friday that he wouldn’t coach next season.
“Winnipeg came after me in terms of wanting me to be part of the organization and I was really impressed with their commitment to winning, their commitment with [Kevin Cheveldayoff] as (general) manager. I know [assistant GM Craig Heisinger] and other people there. I’ve got relatives that work for the Jets and friends that work security there, people I went to school with. I know lots about the Jets. They’ve got a tremendous organization and a real family atmosphere. But I could not commit to any team; it wasn’t just Winnipeg, it was every team that I had talked to because I had to know I was 100 percent in.”
Trotz said that when the Islanders fired him after four seasons and he started having discussions with other teams, he quickly realized he should not rush into a decision.
“You can’t do this job unless you’re 100 percent committed to giving everything 24/7,” he said. “I had some opportunities presented to me but I knew I couldn’t commit and I wanted to go through the process. I know everybody’s timeline was different… but I said I’m in no hurry and I need some time.
“Knowing that made it really tough because I saw the commitment of what Winnipeg was a), willing to do, their commitment to winning and all that and [b)], their people. They’re good people. I’ve talked to a number of teams that are full of good people but this one was tough for me because it’s my home province. I’ve got a lot of people that I know and a lot of people I’ve crossed paths with in the past. And I knew how passionate this fan base is.
“I had to turn away free beer and free tickets and all that stuff. 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 at this game. So I’ll use this year to do what I need to do with my family and if I get back into coaching, I’ll be fully in.”
Born in Winnipeg having grown up 190 miles northwest of the city in Dauphin, Manitoba, Trotz said the thought of returning to work in the NHL in his home province was strong.
“That’s where maybe the cloudiness came in, because of that strong pull,” Trotz said. “And then you see the commitment to winning they do have and ‘Chevy’ and Mark [Chipman, Jets chairman and governor] and [Heisinger] and all those people, those are people you want to work with.
“So that pull was strong but at the same time you have to look inside and say, ‘Do what’s right.’ Some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten was when you have a hard decision, do what’s right, don’t do what’s popular or don’t do what people expect you to do or want you to do. When I looked inside, I knew what was right. It’s right for me to take a step back here and get things done that I need to get done. I love the game and I love doing what I’ve been doing and without the game or without hockey, it’s difficult. It’ll be strange for me. I’ve been [coaching] for 26 years so all of a sudden, I might be watching from the sidelines for a while.”
Trotz said he was in no way soured on coaching or being in the NHL this season after the Islanders (37-35-10) failed to qualify for the playoffs for the first time in his 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 a long time and you can only control what you can control and there was a lot of stuff that was out of our control. I can honestly say zero point zero on that one. I totally understand everything and I have so much respect for Lou [Lamoriello, Islanders GM]. I talked to him today. We’ve got a great relationship. That was not a factor at all.”
Trotz said while he takes a break from the NHL, he is determined to remain up to date with what’s happening in the League and will not let a multitude of relationships fall away.
“I always stay current, so trust me, I’ll be watching,” Trotz said. “I’ll be talking to people. I will be doing all those things I’ve always done as part of staying current and what the League is all about because it always changes.
“[It’s] an opportunity to energize myself and make good with the time I have. I will stay involved. I still have good relationships with Lou and the Islanders, good relationships with teams I’ve been with in the past and the players and the coaches. I will stay involved and when I feel like I’m ready to jump back in, I’ll be fully two feet in and watch me go. I just need time. I’ve said it up front to everybody I talked to. I need time. I just do. I didn’t want to sell anybody short on what I’m capable of doing. When you sign on, you have to be all in. That’s how you win. You’re going to see it on TV night in and night out in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. You have to be all in. And I take that personally, too.”