A Winnipeg brewery says it will give Barry Trotz free beer for life if he returns to his native province to coach the Jets.
Little Brown Jug Brewing Company and a local sports talk show launched the campaign Monday, several months into the NHL club’s coaching search. Trotz became available a month ago when he was fired by the New York Islanders.
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The idea sprung from a conversation between Little Brown Jug founder Kevin Selch and office administrator and liaison James Hofer in their taproom late last week.
“Just thought it would be a little fun initiative,” Hofer said. “We thought people would get a kick out of it and who knows, maybe it might get the coach here.”
Trotz, 59, is from Dauphin, Manitoba, about a 3 1/2-hour drive from Winnipeg. Andrew “Hustler” Paterson from Winnipeg Sports Talk said in a video message to Trotz posted on Twitter, “We need you back in your home province of Manitoba to help turn our team around.”
The Jets missed the playoffs this season after coach Paul Maurice resigned abruptly in December and assistant Dave Lowry was given the job in the interim. Winnipeg is one of several teams with an opening, along with Vegas, Philadelphia, Chicago, Detroit and Boston, which fired Bruce Cassidy last week.
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Trotz, who coached the Washington Capitals to the Stanley Cup in 2018 and ranks third in regular-season victories, is considered a top candidate for several of them and most notably has been linked with the Flyers and Jets. The Florida Panthers also have yet to make a decision on interim coach Andrew Brunette, who was elevated to replace Joel Quenneville when the three-time Stanley Cup winner resigned in November and led them to the Presidents’ Trophy before getting swept by Tampa Bay in the second round of the playoffs.
Little Brown Jug also pledged to brew a beer of Trotz’s choice commemorating his return, if it comes to pass. It was not immediately clear if word of the “Barry Come Home” campaign had reached Trotz or Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff, though Hofer would love for someone to pass it along.
“If we’re putting this offer out there, we definitely want him to hear it, that’s for sure,” he said.
Even if that doesn’t happen — and Hofer doesn’t seriously expect this to affect Trotz’s decision — he hopes it shows how much people in Winnipeg care about the Jets, who returned in 2011 when the Atlanta Thrashers were relocated there 15 years after the original franchise moved to Arizona.
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“It kind of reminds me of, in the ’90s, how kids were cracking open their piggybanks to try to keep the Jets here,” he said. “But it kind of demonstrates the passion that we have here for sports teams and our willingness to try to do whatever we can to sway things.”