Including stellar soundbites, splendid sit-downs, and diplomatic hate-mail
One reason I hope Barry Trotz is the next head coach of the Winnipeg Jets? In addition to the obvious homecoming storyline which would be a fun one to follow and tell, the soundbites delivered to us starving scribes would be scrumptious. One example: Following a game earlier this season in which the New York Islanders seemed to think they were operating a bakery, Trotz had this gem: “Turnovers are like ex-wives, if you have too many, they cost you a lot.” Zing!
Barry Trotz is a proud Manitoban whose first-ever job in the sport was selling 50/50 tickets as a kid attending Dauphin Kings games. (John Locher / The Associated Press files)
Had a pair of terrific one-on-ones yesterday, the kind of interviews you simply cannot do in a Zoom world and make me grateful we’re back to normal in that sense. First off was a chat at the downtown rink with Winnipeg’s Cody Glass, the first-ever draft pick of the Vegas Golden Knights who is now with the Nashville organization. His NHL career is off to a bit of a rocky start, and he spoke candidly about the challenges he’s faced. Glass played in Games 3 and 4 earlier this week against the Colorado Avalanche, then was returned to Milwaukee once the Predators were eliminated. He opened the scoring for the Admirals just 21 seconds last night’s game against the Manitoba Moose. I’ll have a story on Glass in Friday’s Free Press.
Once I was done there, I headed over to Shaw Park and spent more than an hour in the office of Winnipeg Goldeyes skipper Rick Forney, now in his 27th year with the organization. As always, it was a great, wide-ranging conversation about all kinds of topics — baseball and otherwise — and I’ll have a column about our visit in Friday’s paper, just as the Fish are set to being the 100-game American Association campaign by hosting the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks.
Ozark. In a word: Wow. I finished the final season the other night and have all kinds of feelings about the way things played out. Don’t worry, no spoilers to be found here. But …yeah, wow.
I’ve shared in this space before how our sweet new rescue dog, Piper, loves being by my side whenever possible. And that includes when I do things like Zoom interviews. For example, she recently crashed a session with now former Jets interim coach Dave Lowry, poking her head into my screen as I was asking a question. And she’s done it a few times now during my appearances with pal Andrew “Hustler” Paterson and his Winnipeg Sports Talk show. Which led to another colleague, Kenny Wiebe of Sportsnet, to suggest a new name for my weekly segments on WST. “Piper’s Pit!” As an admitted ‘rasslin fan, including the late, great Rowdy Roddy Piper — a Winnipegger, to boot, who used to host his own talk show by that very name on WWF programming —I can’t love the idea enough.
Piper loves being by my side whenever possible. (Mike McIntyre / Winnipeg Free Press)
Back to Trotz-mania for a minute. I ran a Twitter poll the other day, asking a simple question: Do you want Barry Trotz to be the next head coach of the Jets? The options were Yes, No and Not Sure. An overwhelming majority (86 per cent) of the 1,006 folks who voted want to see a happy homecoming, 11 per cent weren’t sure, and only three per cent rejected the idea. Of course, the key here is where Trotz and True North stand. Stay tuned.
I was ready to declare the first round of the NHL playoffs a bit of a bust. Not the worst ever. But far, FAR from the best. Too many blowouts and too few overtimes being the primary culprits. But I admit, the last two nights have swayed my opinion. Tuesday’s Edmonton/Los Angeles game, the third period, in particular, was the kind of non-stop, end-to-end action and emotion that makes you fall in love with playoff hockey all over again. It was a chaotic clusterpuck, and it was glorious. Toronto/Tampa was right there, too. Wednesday’s three-game slate was pretty swell, as well, with New York, Florida and Calgary all rallying from deficits to win. And hey, seven of the eight series are going at least six games. Fingers crossed we get at least a few Game 7s.
Speaking of the postseason, it was great to see Canada Life Centre come alive Wednesday night as the Manitoba Moose staved off elimination with a 5-2 comeback victory over Milwaukee to keep their season alive. Nearly 5,000 folks took in the action and were treated to a good one. At one point in the third period, I witnessed something I don’t recall ever seeing in all my years of watching hockey. There was not one, not two, not three, but FOUR discarded and/or broken sticks littering the ice surface as play continued. I’d say it looked like a lumber yard, but sticks aren’t made with wood anymore these days. Quite the scene.
Milwaukee Admirals’ Cole Smith takes flight during Game 3 of their AHL playoff series against the Manitoba Moose at Canada Life Centre in Winnipeg on Wednesday. (Jessica Lee / Winnipeg Free Press)
Thanks to the many folks who emailed me over the past week with suggestions about Manitoba golf courses I should add to my list this season. I plan to get to as many as possible, and I’ll keep you posted about where I happen to tee it up.
One final Trotz tidbit. I got a lot of feedback to my column earlier this week in which I suggested it would be a match made in hockey heaven to bring him into the fold. But at least one reader disagreed with my take, writing the following:
Mr. McIntyre, I can’t put this anymore diplomatically, but you’re an idiot. The worse thing the Jets could do is hire another failed retread like Trotz. Hopefully Cheveldayoff and Chipman have more sense that that
What qualifies you to be a hockey writer anyway? Have you ever laced up a pair of skates? My god man.
Three things: First, I wonder how his message would have read if he WASN’T putting it diplomatically? Second, obviously this unsatisfied customer never saw me in action during my 11-year minor hockey playing career with the Gateway Flyers, or my decade-plus of coaching Timbits all the way through Bantam. Harumph! Third, my very funny 17-year-old daughter has now taken to signing off text messages between us with “My God Man.”
There’s definitely no shortage of sporty options Friday night around here. The Moose once again in a do-or-die against Milwaukee at Canada Life Centre. The Winnipeg Ice trying to wrap up their second-round series against Moose Jaw at Wayne Fleming Arena. And the Goldeyes get going on the new year at Shaw Park. However you spend your evening, enjoy it.
We’ll talk next week again in this space.
Mike McIntyre, Sports columnist