Trotz talks about warming up in Winnipeg

It’s still not a done deal. But the Winnipeg Jets and Barry Trotz are inching closer to a union that appears to be a match made in hockey heaven.

Additional talks are underway between the parties to take on the role of head coach, and two independent sources told the Free Press on Thursday the next few days could be critical. It’s just the latest sign that the planets seem to be aligning for a happy homecoming for Trotz, who grew up in Dauphin.

The Vegas Golden Knights hired Bruce Cassidy earlier this week, and Philadelphia is poised to fill his vacancy with fiery John Tortorella. That’s especially noteworthy since the Flyers made a big run on Trotz, who reportedly told them earlier this week that he was headed in another direction.

That would appear to be North, or True North, in this case.


<p data-recalc-dims=Additional talks between the Jets and Barry Trotz are underway, sources say.”/>


Additional talks between the Jets and Barry Trotz are ongoing, sources say.

Despite plenty of other names floating around the rumor mill (Jim Montgomery, Pascal Vincent, Scott Arniel, Alain Vigneault and Kirk Muller among them), the Jets have made Trotz their No. 1 priority this offseason. He is exactly what they need. And the hope all along is that the feeling is mutual.

General manager Kevin Cheveldayoff and the company initially interviewed the 59-year-old on May 17, just days after New York Islanders Lou Lamoriello shocked everyone by firing him, claiming the team needed a “new voice.” , which was quickly taken over by Trotz’s assistant, Lane. Lambert. It was more of a tentative talk with Winnipeg, as Trotz has been willing to take his time and explore all options. That has included chatting with several teams that had job offers, including Vegas and Philly. Clearly, nothing came to fruition on those fronts.

Now, Trotz and the team have met again this week. Trotz apparently has aspirations to move from being a coach to a more senior management role with an organization in the future, which is no doubt part of the ongoing discussions. Money, I am told, will not be a sticking point.

The two sides are, in fact, scheduled to meet over the weekend, the sources say.

There were some local concerns following reports from Nashville that Trotz and his Winnipeg-born wife just bought a house in Music City for a reported $1.5 million. Sources say there is nothing to read into that. Trotz has made the Tennessee capital his home in the off-season for years, having spent 15 years in that market. That hasn’t stopped him from taking jobs in Washington and New York, nor will it affect his next job.


<p data-recalc-dims=Trotz with the Jack Adams Trophy after winning the Coach Award in 2019.”/>


Trotz with the Jack Adams Trophy after winning the Coach Award in 2019.

Boston, Dallas and Detroit are the other teams currently looking on the open market. Edmonton, Florida and Chicago could also join the mix if they don’t permanently hire their interim bank bosses. Jay Woodcroft (Oilers) and Andrew Brunette (Panthers) seem like a no brainer to stay.

Bringing Trotz into the fold would be a huge blow for Winnipeg, which could certainly use help both on and off the ice after a disappointing 2021-22 campaign that saw the Central Division team miss the playoffs for the seventh time in 11 seasons. . Veteran coach Paul Maurice abruptly resigned in mid-December, and interim coach Dave Lowry couldn’t get this talented but flawed group back on track.

Lowry, along with associate coach Jamie Kompon and assistant coach Charlie Huddy, were told at the end of the year that they would not be returning. The one exception is goalkeeping coach Wade Flaherty. There was a lot of frustration and hostility late in the season, led by center Mark Scheifele, who hinted that he might want a change of scenery.

Trotz is among the best in his trade, with only Scotty Bowman and Joel Quenneville having more wins than him. He won the Stanley Cup in the spring of 2018 with Washington, only to leave for Long Island after the Capitals refused to give him a sizeable pay raise after that. He led New York to two straight appearances in the Eastern Conference Finals, where they were eliminated both times by eventual champion Tampa Bay.

The Islanders took a step back last year by finishing ninth with a 37-35-10 record and missing the playoffs, but there were significant underlying factors. They were forced to play the first 13 games of the year on the road while their new arena was still under construction, and that was quickly followed by a huge outbreak of COVID-19 through their locker room that the NHL forced them to keep playing. an AHL level list for a couple of weeks.


<p data-recalc-dims=Bringing Trotz into the fold would be a huge blow to Winnipeg. “/>


Bringing Trotz into the fold would be a huge blow to Winnipeg.

Overall, Trotz teams have made the playoffs 14 of the last 17 years. He is known for his attention to defensive detail, an area in which the offensively gifted Jets could certainly use some help.

No one buys a ticket to see the head coach, but there’s no question that Trotz could give the club a boost at the box office. The Jets didn’t sell out a single game last year, and it seemed like a lot of anger and (even worse) apathy was setting in. Plus, someone of Trotz’s caliber wouldn’t hurt when it comes to recruiting free agents to sign here. . Maybe he could even help repair the obvious broken fence with Scheifele.

Trotz has deep roots in Manitoba. His first job in sports was selling 50/50 tickets when he was a kid attending Dauphin Kings games. He landed his first head coaching job with the MJHL team in 1986-87, following a one-year stint as an assistant at the University of Manitoba Bisons. His elderly father, a retired CN Rail mechanic, still lives in the community.

So-called “TrotzWatch” has taken on a life of its own here in recent weeks, and there’s no shortage of local businesses offering incentives to try and sweeten the pot. Free beer, Countryfest tickets, lifetime subscription to Herald Dolphinoil changes, free-range eggs and sausages are some of the carrots on offer.

That’s great, but I suspect the opportunity to work with the likes of Connor Hellebuyck, Kyle Connor, Nikolaj Ehlers, Pierre-Luc Dubois, and Josh Morrissey in a hockey-mad market that happens to be in their own backyard is the best argument for sale. here.

Now, the focus is on whether or not the Jets can close the deal. Stay tuned.

Twitter: @mikemcintyrewpg

mike mcintyre

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