The longest-tenured coach in the NHL, Barry Trotz, is tenured no more. The only coach the Nashville Predators have ever had will not be back next season.
Thus ends one of the most remarkable runs in the NHL. Trotz was the initial skipper of the franchise and saw them through the tough growing pains until the Predators became a hard-nosed, tough out in the playoffs. Every season it seemed like Trotz got the most out of a somewhat limited group.
But after back-to-back seasons without making the playoffs, GM David Poile -- the only GM the Predators have ever known -- decided that it was finally time to change direction.
"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."
In his 16 seasons with the Predators, Trotz finished with a 557-479-100 record with 60 ties (that tells you how long he's been coaching in Nashville).
While hard to imagine, the possibility of Trotz being out at the end of the season has been a hot topic for weeks now around the Predators. This season his team was felled by an injury to his star goaltender in Pekke Rinne as much as anything else and as a result the Preds missed the postseason by a few points in the West. After 15 seasons, sometimes you just need a new voice, even if it does disrupt the model of consistency that is the Predators.
Equally odd as the Predators moving on without Trotz is Trotz moving on without the Predators. Certainly there will be some coaching vacancies that open up -- they always do -- and Trotz will very likely be at the top of many teams' wish lists. If he wants, he should land on his feet in no time, the reward for building a great reputation over the years in Nashville.
However this might not be the end of their relationship. The Predators have offered a job to Trotz in the hockey operations department should he choose to accept it but you'll have to think GMs will be offering him a little bigger role.
"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."
It might be necessary but isn't always easy.
It's hard to overstate all that Trotz has meant to the Predators and hockey in Nashville but all good things must come to an end at some point. Ideally the Predators can find another coach who could stay around for 15 years because you don't last that long unless you're doing a lot of things right.