There will be a new face behind the Nashville Predators bench for the first time in 15 years as the organization announced the hiring of Peter Laviolette as its new head coach.
Laviolette will have big shoes to fill as Barry Trotz, who coached the team since they joined the league, was beloved by both players and fans, but as Mike Fisher admitted sometimes you need a change.
“Barry was an amazing person and coach and I loved playing for him,” said Fisher. “When you miss the playoffs two straight years though you kind of expect some changes in this business.”
Predators general manager admitted the disappointment of missing the post-season two straight years had an impact on his decision to make a coaching change.
Laviolette comes to the Predators with a great deal of experience. Over the course of 12 seasons with three different teams Laviolette has compiled a career coaching record of 389-282-(25)-63 (866 points), and each of the three teams improved exponentially in the first full season after he took the helm.
“I’ve always heard a lot of good things about him as a person and a coach,” said Fisher. “I’m excited. I think it will be a good thing. It’s like starting from scratch and you’ve got to earn playing time and respect from the coach.”
The Predators missed the playoffs by just three points this season and with a solid nucleus of youth and leadership feel they could be on the cusp of something exciting.
“I’m sure that’s one area Peter will want to see some improvement,” said Fisher with a bit of a laugh. “We really want to just improve on what we’ve been building here the last couple years."
While Fisher will enjoy a little time off this summer, he says he’s already looking forward to training camp.
Barry Trotz will not return for a 16th season as head coach, the team announced after a Tennessean report, but he is being offered a position within the team's hockey operations department.
"Our organization has high expectations and we have not met them in the past two seasons," general manager David Poile said in a press release. "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
The Nashville Predators finished strong, even if was for naught.
The Minnesota Wild are hoping this is only the start.
Craig Smith had two goals and two assists, and the Predators used a second-period barrage against goalie Ilya Bryzgalov to beat the playoff-bound Wild 7-3 on Sunday.
"Like the last exhibition game before the start of a season, always happy to have that one over with," Wild coach Mike Yeo said.