The firing of Barry Trotz was the inevitable end to a second straight underachieving season for Trotz and the Nashville Predators. The team, despite a late season surge, faltered out of the gate and was never a factor in the Central Division. Injuries plagued the team but the Predators were able to salvage a winning season after the previous season’s fiasco where they finished in last place.
Barry Trotz (and the Predators) had reached his peak when Nashville reached the second round in the 2012 playoffs (the first they had ever done so as a team). But the past two seasons were retrogression in Trotz’s coaching career. The 2013 lock-out season took seven points from Barry’s coaching value according to my rating system and this season saw Trotz (and the Predators) running to stand still.
Barry Trotz (who was there from day one) nursed the Predators through their teething pains as an expansion franchise; saw the team become winners and playoff contenders; and nurtured the emergence of Shea Weber and Pekka Rinne as NHL All-Stars. And yet the last two seasons saw the team faltering, failing to advance further in their development as an NHL franchise. In the end Barry Trotz had outlived his usefulness as a coach in Nashville and Nashville GM David Poile was forced to pull the trigger.
Nashville is now on the cusp of a potential new era. Barry Trotz had emphasized the fundamentals: goal-tending, tight defense, and on-ice discipline. Will the second head coach in Predators franchise history do the same or will a new tactical mindset come to fore?
If David Poile wants to go in-house then Dean Evason (head coach of the Predator’s AHL affiliate Milwaukee Admirals) might be a potential choice. His coaching value after two seasons in Milwaukee is a creditable +9 with an ASR of +4.500 (solid and respectable numbers according to my rating system). Choosing Evason would be advantageous since he would be familiar with Nashville’s personnel. Tactically he would be no different than Barry Trotz since the Admirals show greater strength on defence than on offense; playing disciplined hockey (although a bit rougher than Barry Trotz would).
If David Poile looks outside the box then Jacques Martin is available or Terry Murray (who told me personally last fall that he very much wants to return to NHL coaching) or perhaps other NHL coaches who might be losing their jobs in the days and weeks to come?
What about Barry Trotz?
Trotz refused a front office job, preferring to remain a coach. Despite the setbacks of the last two seasons, Trotz remains a quality coach, worthy of a second chance in the NHL. There is no shortage of NHL franchises which could profit from his coaching wisdom: the Islanders, Edmonton, Calgary, and the Winnipeg Jets all could use Trotz’s commitment to the fundamentals and his skill in teaching young players how to play tight, disciplined defensive hockey. (All four franchises ranked near the bottom in team defence).
If those teams don’t hire Trotz then perhaps the New Jersey Devils might be interested in Trotz? If ever a coaching change is needed it’s definitely needed in North Jersey. Peter DeBoer has again failed to recapture the success of the 2011/12 season and one wonders if the Devils ownership and/or management will lose patience with DeBoer and find someone else.
If Lou Lamoriello makes the decision then Trotz would be a viable candidate. Trotz fits the mold that Lamoriello always seeks in coaches: cool, efficient technocrats who emphasize defensive hockey while keeping the team on an even keel emotionally and at a peak performance wise.
I suspect that a second act is brewing in Barry’s future. The question remains in what venue will it all play out?