Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Classy Act by a Class Act

While Predator fans were enjoying a 2-0 victory over the Montreal Canadiens at the Sommet Center on November 14th, a very classy gesture occurred that got no notice. It was a gesture that I think epitomizes the character of the one who did it and provides a glimpse into why the Predators have enjoyed the success they have.

If one look around the arena at a Predators game, you might notice a box above the seats in section 315. Sometimes General Manager David Poile can be spied in that box, or Director of Hockey Operations Mike Santos. One person who is always in that box is Predators video coach Robert Bouchard. "Bouch" is like the coach in the press box at a football game, giving the high angle view of the game and other information down to assistant coaches Brent Peterson and Peter Horachek via the headphones. Far removed from the action on the ice but integral to the play of the team, Bouch spends the game in his lofty perch above section 315.

I had a chance to talk to Bouch over the Christmas holiday and he told me that when he was in the locker room for the second intermission of the Montreal game, Head Coach Barry Trotz came up to him and said don't go back upstairs. Instead, he wanted Bouch on the bench to coach the third period. Remember, this was a 1-0 contest going in to the third, and the game was still in the balance.

Bouch told me that the import of this gesture was beyond words for him. You may not know this, but Robert Bouchard is from Montreal, and has lots of friends and family that pay close attention to this game. Coach Trotz knew that, and took his "eye in the sky" out of his usual location and put him behind the bench to coach, confident that the team would uphold their end of the bargain. And in the process, honored one of his staff members.

I had a chance to listen to Steve Sullivan yesterday when he was XM Radio's Home Ice segment. Sully was asked what it was like to play for Trotzy, and he said that he was accessible, a good communicator, and most of all, respected the people around him. This quiet gesture by Coach Trotz to one of his coaches personifies the quality of respect that he has for those around him.

People that follow hockey often marvel and ask the question about how Barry Trotz is able to get so much out of his players each and every season. I think this example provides a glimpse into an aspect of how he is able to squeeze so much out of his talent. And it provides a glimpse into Barry Trotz, not just as a coach in the NHL, but as a man.

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