Nashville Predators Road Trip Blog: Game Day in Winnipeg
Friday, 11.08.2013 / 1:22 PM
We’re in the Great White North and coach Trotz is right… Winnipeg may be the coldest place on earth.
After a huge win in Colorado on Wednesday night, we packed up the show and moved it to Winnipeg. We’re at the midway point of this marathon 17-day trip, but with only seven days to go, there is light at the end of the tunnel finally. The days are starting to run together a little bit, and if it wasn’t for the cold and the names on the scoreboard during morning skate, I’m not sure I’d be entirely certain what city we were in.
Winnipeg is an interesting stop on the Central Division circuit. It’s a cold, Canadian prairie town, but you can tell hockey roots run deep here. They run so deep that many of the Preds staff and players have called Winnipeg home at one point or another.
Trotz grew up in Dauphin, Manitoba, about four hours north of Winnipeg. After playing junior hockey in Dauphin and Regina, Trotz began his coaching career in his hometown as the general manager and head coach of the Dauphin Kings. In 1987, he returned to Winnipeg and the University of Manitoba as head coach, while also serving as a part-time scout for David Poile and the Washington Capitals.
“I started in my hometown of Dauphin and then I got an opportunity in Portage, about an hour out of Winnipeg, but I never coached a game there because I ended up here at the University of Manitoba,” Trotz said. “I coached here for a year and then got involved with the Washington Capitals organization. I started on a part-time basis and then ended up full time. This is where it all started for me, and I’m fortunate to have my first assistant coach here to visit. He brought some beef jerky from home and he’s going to stay for the game.”
Unlike the Preds first trip to Winnipeg earlier this season, this week’s extended stay is a homecoming of sorts for Trotz, which gives him a chance to meet up with family and old friends.
“It is good to see people that you haven’t seen for a while,” Trotz said. “But at the same time, I have to separate Church and State. I’m here to work, not to play. That’s the tough part about being so close to home – you have to make sure people understand you are here to work not visit.”
Assistant Coach Phil Housley played three seasons with the previous incarnation of the Jets from 1990-93. He was better than a point-per-game player for the Jets during that span after posting 259 points (64g-195a) in 232 games. Housley still holds Jets’ records for most points (97) and assists (79) by a defenseman in a single season (1992-93) during Teemu Selanne’s recording setting rookie goal scoring campaign (76).
In addition to Housley’s hockey playing roots here, Winnipeg’s close proximity to Minnesota also offers his family the opportunity to drive up from Minneapolis to see him. Even with the snowy conditions, the six-hour drive is much easier than the 13-and-a-half hour drive to Nashville.
Finally, Colin Wilson, the hero of Wednesday night’s game, calls Winnipeg home during the offseason. Despite being born in Greenwich, Conn., the 6-1, 216-pound forward moved to Winnipeg as a boy and his family remains in the area.
“As soon as we got to the hotel my dad came and picked me up,” Wilson said. “I got to go back home and have a family dinner with my parents, my sister and my grandmothers. It was a good night.”
Wilson is hoping to use some of the momentum he gained in Colorado to show out in front of the “hometown crowd” tonight.
“I have a lot of friends coming out tonight,” Wilson said. “The last game it was a lot of family, so tonight I’ll have a lot of friends here. I feel like I have a little bit of a hot stick after Wednesday, so hopefully I can continue with that and get a few pucks to go in tonight.”
Between Trotz, Housley, Wilson and Carter Hutton, more than 80 game passes were handed out to friends and family for tonight’s game against the Jets.
Tonight’s homecoming will hopefully inspire the Preds to continue the strong play they’ve been showing throughout the road trip thus far. As I wrote before, the four-points against Central Division opponents are the most important of the trip and they’ve picked up two already.
Until next time.