For 16 years (since 1998) Barry Trotz has been the coach of Nashville Predators. The NHL’s longest-tenured coach with the same organization, and the franchise’s only coach to date, did not have his contract renewed today after a second-straight season finishing outside the playoffs. Nashville went 38-32-12 this season.
The move, though not shocking considering the disappointment of the previous two seasons, signals a change in direction of the Predators, who have worked seamlessly with their AHL affiliate in Milwaukee and its coaching staff, to develop home-grown players, including the likes of Shea Weber, Patric Hornqvist, Roman Josi, Colin Wilson, Nick Spaling, Ryan Ellis and Gabriel Bourque, seven of the team’s top 10 scorers, along with star goaltender Pekka Rinne. Rookie Seth Jones and Craig Smith were also drafted by the club.
Predators General Manager David Poile was quoted in the team’s statement released today:
“Our organization has high expectations and we have not met them in the past two seasons. As a result, it is my decision and determination that we need a new voice and a new direction. Our change in direction began over a year ago as we have made several personnel changes, including trading of long-time veteran players and a change to our coaching staff last offseason. Our goal is to return to the playoffs with the ultimate goal of contending for the Stanley Cup. We know that once we get into the playoffs, anything is possible.
“I also want to thank Barry for everything he has done for our franchise. He has been the face and voice of our team for 15 years. He created, developed and lived The Predator Way – on the ice, in the office and in the community. There could be no finer ambassador for the Predators or Nashville than Barry Trotz. He has laid a foundation and culture that will benefit the next coach of the Nashville Predators.”
Though it is a bit early to speculate on who will replace Trotz, who has been offered a position within the organization (Trotz will likely be a top choice of other teams looking for a new coach after Black Monday), a couple of obvious in-house candidates would be current Predators assistant coaches Lane Lambert and Phil Housley, plus current Admirals coach Dean Evason. Two others with strong ties to the organization would be current Florida Panthers interim coach Peter Horachek and current Carolina Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller, who might be out of job with the regime change occurring in Raleigh. Former Admirals coach Claude Noel, who was fired this season by Winnipeg, is also available, as is former Philadelphia Flyers coach Peter Laviolette, who has some connections to Poile via USA Hockey.
Trotz finishes his 15-year coaching career with Nashville with a record of 557-479-100 + 60 ties. After missing the playoffs the first five seasons, the Predators under Trotz were playoff bound in six of the next seven seasons before sliding back to 16-23-9 last year.
So Roundtable . . . What do you think of the big news today out of Nashville? Are more changes within the organization upcoming?