On Monday, Barry Trotz will not return as head coach of the Nashville Predators, per Josh Cooper of The Tennessean. For good or bad, it’s officially the end of an era.
Hired by the Predators on August 6th, 1997, Trotz has been the only head coach Nashville has ever known, seeing him coach all 1,196 regular season games and all 50 postseason games. With a final record of 557-479-60-100, Trotz will finish his career with the Predators seeing his name in the NHL’s Top 20 in regular season games coached and regular season coaching wins, a feat that places him among the NHL’s coaching elite.
In his tenure with Nashville, Trotz not only helped the team achieve many of their “franchise-first”, but bypassed Predators color commentator Terry Crisp (formerly the first coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning) as the record-holder for most games coached by the first coach of an NHL expansion franchise.
Trotz helped lead the Predators to the playoffs in seven of their last nine seasons, unfortunately missing the postseason in their previous two seasons. Although with a record of 19-31 in the postseason, he helped lead Nashville to their first home playoff win, first road playoff win, first playoff overtime win, and first playoff series win in his time with the Predators.
Trotz was twice named a finalist for the Jack Adams Award for NHL Coach of the Year, an award that would he ultimately never win with the Nashville Predators. He’s also been an assistant coach of Team Canada at the World Championships three times (2002, 2003, 2009), winning a gold medal in 2003 and silver in 2009.
Leaving the franchise after a disappointing season, Nashville has a very bright future. Barry Trotz’s departure means that Nashville is the final team in the latest NHL expansion to make a change at either general manager or head coach. There is no question that the Predators have a very large set of shoes to fill. Yet, no matter who steps into Trotz’s place, Nashville can only look back with fond memories of the coach that brought them to where they are today.
While Peter Laviolette could be a very good option for the Predators in the future, my personal thought is that assistant coach Phil Housley will get the job. While that remains to be seen, Nashville shouldn’t have to wait too long to find their first “new” coach since 1997.
Below is the press release from the Predators on their plans for heading in a new direction:
“Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager announced today that Barry Trotz’s coaching contract will not be extended and that the organization will immediately begin a search to identify a new head coach for the 2014-15 season. Trotz has been offered a position within the organization’s hockey operations department and will consider his options before making a decision on the position.
“Our organization has high expectations and we have not met them in the past two seasons,” Poile said of making the most difficult decision of his 30-plus year general manager career. “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.”
The search for a new head coach begins immediately with no timetable for completing the search and announcing a new head coach.
“It is most important we get the right individual for our franchise, our team and our community,” Poile said. “We will investigate all options in order to identify the best candidate.”
“We thank Barry for his many contributions to the Predators organization” Chairman of the Predators ownership group Tom Cigarran said. “Barry is an exceptional person and coach. We wish him the very best going forward. We also have great confidence in David Poile’s plan. We support this decision, and believe change is necessary if we are to reach our goals.””