Barry Trotz, the only coach in the history of the Nashville Predators (1998-2014), will not be back next season, the team announced on Monday.
Trotz ranks 13th on the NHL’s all-time wins list (557) and held the longest tenure of any coach in the NHL at 15 seasons. He also had 479 losses, 60 ties and 100 overtime defeats. And from 2003-12, spanning eight seasons (the NHL lockout vanquished the 2004-05 campaign), Trotz got Nashville into the playoffs seven times.
Trotz was a finalist for the Jack Adams Award, given to the league’s top coach, in both 2010 and 2011. For the 2011-12 campaign, the Predators finished with the NHL’s fifth-best overall record; and in 2006-07, the club finished with the sixth-best overall record.
Lack of playoff success apparently proved to be Trotz’s undoing. Nashville missed qualifying for the playoffs by three points, finishing 12-4-2 down the stretch, even though the Predators played without No. 1 goalie Pekka Rinne for 51 games (hip infection).
"Our organization has high expectations and we have not met them in the past two seasons," said Predators general manager David Poile in a statement. "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," continued Poile. "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."
And so the Predators will chart a new course without Trotz, who never got the franchise past the second round of the NHL playoffs.
In the final days of the season, Trotz, one of the league’s most genial coaches and overall ambassadors, quietly made a case for his brand of defensive-oriented hockey, perhaps knowing his time was limited. He pointed to the Los Angeles Kings and how they won a Stanley Cup recently with the league’s stingiest defense.
He also believes Nashville would have made the playoffs this season, if it had had a healthy Rinne, who led the NHL in wins two seasons ago.
Trotz often talked about the Predator Way and "Predator hockey" — as in being one of the NHL’s hardest teams to prepare for and play against. Opposing coaches often spoke glowingly of Protz and the Predators, when talking to the media at Bridgestone Arena.
Potential candidates to succeed Trotz include Paul Maurice (the Winnipeg Jets’ interim coach this season) and Peter Laviolette, who won a Stanley Cup with Carolina in 2006.
Both coaches have gotten their teams to the conference finals multiple times and each has reached the Stanley Cup finals. Laviolette has accomplished the feat with two different clubs — Carolina in 2006, Philadelphia in 2010.
Predators assistant coach Phil Housley might also garner strong consideration. One of the NHL’s all-time leaders in scoring by a defenseman, Housley coached the United States to a gold medal at the 2012-13 World Junior Championships, a team that included Predators rookie defenseman Seth Jones.
Unlike the other candidates, though, Housley does not have experience as a head coach at the NHL level.