Kissing the Stanley Cup in Las Vegas with Barry Trotz and bringing it to Baltimore

June 10, 2018 | Nestor Aparicio

from Penguins to Capitals, from one empty Tuesday night in black and gold to those in red and blue. I’m sure he didn’t even know about my days watching the North Stars green and gold of Ubriaco’s first Slapshot bunch and the Clippers of orange and black in days of yore. And when I joke about Slapshot, I’m not joking. Steve Carlson played on those teams. Google it!

I think I knew Trotz longer before he was coach than once he became the coach of the Skipjacks. Recently, I tripped over long-lost audio of him calling me to tell me the team was officially moving to Portland, Maine.

We stayed in touch. He called into my radio show two or three times a year from Maine. He won a Calder Cup the following year in 1994. He lost another Calder Cup final in Game 7 in Rochester in 1995.

In August 1997, he was named the head coach of the Nashville Predators. In the pre-internet and pre-email era, somehow that slipped by me and I ran into David Poile in the pressbox of The Pond at Anaheim in January 1998 when I was in San Diego covering the Packers-Broncos Super Bowl. Poile and I connected and he told me he’d hired Trotz to be his coach and I immediately told him that I wanted to be the first Nashville Predators fan in existence.

I went to Australia for a month and when I got home in March 1999 there was a box with a Nashville Predators hat and shirt from Trotz and we reconnected. Remember: the Titans and Ravens were in the same division at this point so I was spending time in Nashville so I made the Predators a regular part of my life – attending games all over the country in my jersey and visiting with Trotz for a postgame beer in the bowels of arenas throughout the NHL. I liked the “newness” of the team in the same way that I thought it was a rare chance in the sports life to be “all in” with an expansion team or whatever the Baltimore Ravens were in 1996.

Plus, I had a friend who was coaching a brand new team. Why wouldn’t I have some fun and cheer him on down in Nashville?

I attended one of Trotz’s first road wins in Los Angeles at the old Forum during a week when the Ravens were playing the Chargers in 1999. It was my first Predators game! I went to dozens over the years, especially after I met my wife at an American Hockey League game hosted by the Manchester Monarchs in February 2003.

(Yes, I met my wife at a minor league hockey game! The good old hockey game is the best game you can name!)

When Trotz coached his first home playoff game in 2004, we flew to Nashville for the weekend and celebrated. I bought the NHL Game Pass during those years to watch the Predators play three nights a week. The team was a real threat