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End of an era: Trotz out as Nashville head coach

Apr 14, 2014, 11:26 AM EDT

Barry Trotz Getty Images

The first and only head coach in Nashville Predators history has reportedly been let go.

Barry Trotz, who’s been behind the Predators bench for 16 seasons and was the longest active-tenured coach in the NHL, will be relieved of his duties, according to The Tennessean.

UPDATE: The Preds have confirmed Trotz will not be back next season, but has been offered a job in the hockey operations department.

“Our organization has high expectations and we have not met them in the past two seasons,” Nashville GM David Poile said. “As a result, it is my decision and determination that we need a new voice and a new direction.”

The 51-year-old Trotz was hired by Poile in 1997 to lead the expansion club and has remained in Nashville ever since, second only to Gregg Popovich of the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs in terms of longest-tenured coaches in the fourth major North American pro sports leagues.

Trotz established himself as one of the NHL’s most respected bench bosses during his time with the Preds, twice earning Jack Adams nominations (2010, ’11) while winning over 500 games with a team often hamstrung by salary cap restraints and a lack of offensive talent.

That said, some pinned the lack of offense on Trotz, who implemented a low-risk, defensive-oriented style of play to keep his team competitive in the early years of expansion. That issue reared its head once again this year, as the Preds missed the playoffs for the second straight season while finishing 19th in goals per game.

Nashville did briefly shed that offensively-challenged label, though, most notably during the 2011-12 season. The club finished eighth in the NHL in goals, racked up 48 wins and won its second-ever playoff series against rivals Detroit. But the year ended with a whimper, as the Preds were bounced in five games in the second round while controversial forward Alex Radulov was temporarily suspended for breaking curfew during the series.

Trotz also achieved great success during the 2006-07 campaign, racking up a franchise-best 51 wins and 110 points – but, in a familiar theme, the year ended with playoff disappointment as the Preds lost in the opening round to San Jose.

It’s expected that Trotz will be a hot coaching candidate over the next few days. There are likely to be openings across the league as reports have surfaced about pending changes in Vancouver (John Tortorella), Carolina (Kirk Muller) and Toronto (Randy Carlyle).

  1. stcrowe - Apr 14, 2014 at 11:32 AM

    He will be unemployed for about a week.

    • bcsteele - Apr 14, 2014 at 11:37 AM

      I agree. I see him winding up in Carolina but who knows. Someone could get let go just to pick him up.

      • stcrowe - Apr 14, 2014 at 11:49 AM

        Carolina is a definite possibility. When a guy like him becomes available, it can trigger a chain reaction. Coaches that were on the bubble yesterday become more likely to get fired. Even if a team misses out on Trotz, there will be a few other coaches available as a result.

      • storminator16 - Apr 14, 2014 at 12:00 PM

        Yikes, as a Caniac I want no part of that.

    • comeonnowguys - Apr 14, 2014 at 12:03 PM

      More than ever, I would not want to be Torts.

    • skr213 - Apr 14, 2014 at 3:09 PM

      Read the article – he’s already been offered a job by Nashville in the hockey operations department. No unemployment at all.

  2. smarshall3789 - Apr 14, 2014 at 11:36 AM

    Wow never thought I’d see the day! Bad move though there isn’t much better out there so bad timing Nashville! I’m betting next week he will have a new job probably with the Nucks!

  3. 13datsyuk13 - Apr 14, 2014 at 11:36 AM

    This is a bad move for Nashville. That guy helped build the franchise. Keep in mind he was without his starting goaltender all year. I used to hate watching the wings play against Nashville. They were tough, mean and did not like Detroit.

  4. mshantz22 - Apr 14, 2014 at 11:39 AM

    In all fairness, David Poile is probably just as big of a part of the problem in Nashville as Trotz is.

    • rbbbaron - Apr 14, 2014 at 1:41 PM

      I don’t think either is/was necessary a part of the problem.

      “with a team often hamstrung by salary cap restraints”– to be more specific, that ‘restraint’ is the cap floor. Ownership has never committed itself financially to winning; Poile and Trotz have taken a cap-floor team as far as it can go.

      • blackhawksdynasty - Apr 14, 2014 at 2:04 PM

        Exactly. Couldn’t agree more. Management can only do so much. Sitting on the cap floor will never be a recipe for success – no matter who is running the team. Nashville’s failure to go any further than they have falls on ownership.

      • therealjr - Apr 14, 2014 at 3:16 PM

        You people all need to wake up. Nashville isn’t a cap floor team, they were less than $5M from the cap this season and would have been higher if they hadn’t been sellers at the deadline.

      • rbbbaron - Apr 14, 2014 at 3:57 PM

        The cap ceiling dropped significantly this season and NSH had more than 3mil in bonuses count against them; that’s the only reason they were, at one point during the season, within 5mil of the ceiling for THIS SEASON. Otherwise before this year they never spent more than 53mil on their roster and have consistently ranked near the bottom of the league in that regard.
        If this year was the ownership’s big push, then it was clearly too little, too late.

  5. pwshrugged - Apr 14, 2014 at 11:41 AM

    Awful move for Nashville; I fail to see how they’ll find a better coaching candidate who will be able to improve on a flawed roster.

    Arguably a blessing in disguise for Trotz, though; there’s a good chance he’ll end up coaching a better team for the ’14-15 campaign.

  6. birdmane91 - Apr 14, 2014 at 11:42 AM

    As a day 1 preds sth, his time was up. Amazing coach and family man that did great things for us. He will get another job quickly and do well, but it was getting stale here. I fault Poile just as much as Trotz, which is what makes this hard for me. Trotz couldn’t coach offense, but Poile couldn’t draft or sign it either. Unfortunately, head coaches are the scapegoats. Best of luck to he and his family, I just hope he goes to the eastern conference.

    • darksidecowboy - Apr 14, 2014 at 1:12 PM

      I agree, I can see Trotz going to a new team and doing well. Kind of like Ruff coaching Dallas. Fresh start, renewed energy will a good thing for him and Pred fans.

  7. 950003cups - Apr 14, 2014 at 11:44 AM

    Toronto?

  8. 950003cups - Apr 14, 2014 at 11:48 AM

    Laviolette maybe found a home. He’s not gonna go back to Carolina (I would think) so Nashville might work. This whole league is a mess. All these good coaches getting let go and the Devils kept DeBoer.

    Un-Be-Freakin’-Lievable

    • storminator16 - Apr 14, 2014 at 12:01 PM

      I would love Laviolette back in Carolina, though…

    • laxman1944 - Apr 14, 2014 at 12:43 PM

      Lavvy would surely get the offense going…..but it seems he loses the room after about 2 years.

      It’s a shame.

  9. jwalsh217 - Apr 14, 2014 at 11:56 AM

    The GM puts together a team with the offensive talent of an AHL team but then he fires the coach… what am i missing?

  10. comeonnowguys - Apr 14, 2014 at 12:00 PM

    That’s a shame. Great coach.

  11. bspray - Apr 14, 2014 at 12:01 PM

    I don’t know why you think this is a bad move for Nashville. The guy had 15 years here and couldn’t get it done. It’s not like Trotz had an ownership group that wouldn’t pay for talent (Rinne $50 million, Webber $114 million). The problem was, no skilled free agents would come to Nashville because they knew Trotz’s system was defense first. The talent that Nashville drafted or traded for never got to see the ice in the NHL if they didn’t abandon scoring to focus on defense.

    Trotz had exactly one player score more than 30 goals in a season and that was Jason Arnott in 08-09 with 33 goals. The guy just doesn’t have the capacity within his system to let his players create offensively. Only ONE 30 goal scorer in 15 years as head coach!

    So, as a fan of this team that was ‘defense first’, it was frustrating to see this team finish 23rd in goals against this year with arguably one of the best groups of defensemen in the NHL. Granted Rinne was out for a while but a defense as good as Nashville should have been able to overcome that and they weren’t. If you’re defense isn’t going to play defense, why not let your wingers play offense? Because he’s Barry Trotz.

    So Trotz will be in high demand and he will go to a team and instill the same ‘defense first’ system. All the good scoring talent his team has will leave an no talented free agents will sign with him as coach. His teams will finish a little over .500 for the next few years and he will make the playoffs more often than he misses them. Of course, they will be out in the first round with the rare exception of making it to the second round only to be ousted there.

    Trotz is a mediocre coach that is good at getting a little extra out of mediocre players. In 6-8 years he will be let go from whatever club he signs with next (because of mediocre results) and people will still probably be chirping about what a great coach he is.

    This was a move Nashville had to make. The question is, who replaces Trotz.

    • laxman1944 - Apr 14, 2014 at 12:45 PM

      So what exactly are trying say??

      sorry….just playin

    • rbbbaron - Apr 14, 2014 at 2:25 PM

      Just because they locked up Weber and Rinne up for the long-term doesn’t mean that ownership is willing to go all in– they offered those contracts because they absolutely had to. If you look at other small market/stingy ownership situations, you’ll see that they’re willing to commit to a single star player or two, if for no other reason than marketing purposes. Beyond that they can’t seem to be bothered to really commit financially.
      Free agents haven’t come to Nashville because the organization can’t offer anything in the ballpark that bigger markets can (in terms of salary, realistic chance of winning cup, etc.). In any case, I don’t really think it has been a matter of going out and getting talent from outside the organization: if ownership wouldn’t impose such a financial constraint on Poile, then maybe they would’ve been able to retain guys like Timonen, Hartnell, Hamhuis, Suter, etc., and would’ve enjoyed more success and been able to attract free agents that way…. Given that NSH has consistently hovered around the cap-floor, Poile and Trotz have done relatively well.

  12. tmoore4075 - Apr 14, 2014 at 12:15 PM

    The team’s struggles were not his fault but it might have been time just for a change. However, I agree with some, who are you going to get that’s for sure better. I give it two weeks at most before he’s somewhere else.

  13. ruthlessandtoothless - Apr 14, 2014 at 12:33 PM

    He always reminded me of Mickey Rooney

  14. titansbro - Apr 14, 2014 at 12:39 PM

    I’m torn on this one. I consider Trotz as a less successful Claude Julien. Just hasn’t had the same level of talent.

  15. nhstateline - Apr 14, 2014 at 12:48 PM

    Dear Barry: Call Bruce Boudreau and ask him how getting fired by Washington worked out for him. I bet his answer will be “it $@%^ worked out $%@#! great. Now excuse me while I get started on playoff preparation”.

    A couple of years from now this probably will work out the same. Trotz will get a gig with a team that has the money to get a good NHL roster yearly and will win. Nashville will stay where they are.

    • nhstateline - Apr 14, 2014 at 3:48 PM

      and that’s no shot at the people in Nashville who go to games and make that such a great environment. They’re a cash team. It’s the way it is and more the GM’s and the owner’s responsibility to manage what money they have in said circumstance. The coach can only do so much and, while there’s talent on that roster, it isn’t to the level that other teams have.

  16. bruinpred - Apr 14, 2014 at 12:57 PM

    Arnott and Kariya proactively targeted Nashville as a destination, Sullivan wanted to stay, Forsberg wanted to come to Nashville. When the Preds had talent, they were allowed to shine.
    The Preds were on the verge of a long playoff run when Poile acquired Andrei Kotstitsyn, the cancer of all cancers.
    Everyone knew that this year was going to be a potential disaster entering the season with an unproven backup goalie. That’s on Poile.
    In Poile’s defense, Leipold made him start over, gutting the team he was building.
    Horny had 30 goals in 2009-2010 by the way. Kariya had 31 goals in 2005-2006; so did Sullivan. BS-pray do your research.

  17. enollatsknarf - Apr 14, 2014 at 1:35 PM

    Has Poile ever drafted a top line forward? Why is Trotz taking the fall here when it’s equally Poile’s fault?

    Expectations were unrealistic if you expected to be a contender this year, Mr. Poile.

    • deathbyspl - Apr 14, 2014 at 2:33 PM

      He drafted David Legwand who was supposed to be a high scoring forward and that didn’t work out. After that, the Preds have always been a mediocre team thanks to Barry Trotz keeping them a competitive but middling team. Otherwise, he drafted d-men and gritty forwards per request of coach Trotz to fit his system.

      There was also Alexander Radulov too. That also did not work out so well.

      • rbbbaron - Apr 14, 2014 at 4:06 PM

        I doubt it was Trotz who was directing Poile’s roster moves. In any case, they’ve selected some pretty good blueliners over the years…and let them walk (necessitating the need to draft more d-men?)

      • deathbyspl - Apr 14, 2014 at 4:40 PM

        @rbbbaron:

        Trotz and Poile both picked out the carpets for the offices in 1997. I’m sure they talked hockey at least few times over the following 15 years.

      • rbbbaron - Apr 14, 2014 at 6:35 PM

        A closer reading of my comment will show that I never suggested that they didn’t have contact or otherwise coordinate with each other– that’s to be expected. But your suggestion that Poile acted “per request of coach Trotz” makes it sound like Poile has been taking orders all this time from the guy he hired…

  18. govtminion - Apr 14, 2014 at 1:37 PM

    If the Capitals are smart, they’ll clean house right now so they can bring Trotz on board before someone else nabs him.

    …Being the Capitals, with their recent streaks of genius, I expect that means they’ll wait a few weeks to make any decisions.

    It’s a pity, too, because with Trotz having a well-known penchant for publicly slapping players for being stupid (Radulov?), he’d be a great guy to get Ovechkin back in line.

    • deathbyspl - Apr 14, 2014 at 2:26 PM

      no, he would be a great guy to chase Ovechkin to the KHL. Unless you’re talking about Pavel Datsyuk, Trotz will run off every Russian player on the team he coaches.

  19. prov1x - Apr 14, 2014 at 7:00 PM

    “Rinne was out for a while”

    Yup. 51 games. Backups had total of ONE NHL game experience. Missed playoffs by three points while going 1-100 in shootouts. Mgmt went cheap on the backup and got burned and Trotz still almost got them in. Yeah, let’s get rid of him, not the GM or the crack scouting staff that gives us Colin Wilson and others that no other team would have. Not saying a change after 17 years might not be good but they should sweep them all out.

  20. lordfletcher - Apr 15, 2014 at 1:07 AM

    If MN loses to colorado… Would love to have Trotz as the new HC!

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