It’s no secret that Preds Nation will sorely miss longtime, beloved General Manager David Poile, who effectively steps down from his role at the turn of the month. Since bringing the NHL to Nashville in 1997, Poile has been a staple in the Middle Tennessee community, and his fingerprints on the city will never be washed away. Nevertheless, a change was both inevitable and necessary.
Enter Barry Trotz. The first-ever Head Coach for this organization has returned after a successful career behind the bench, which included guiding the Washington Capitals to their only Stanley Cup win in 2018. Nicknamed “Trotzy”, he is no stranger to new challenges and rebuilding teams. Now, he will be doing so in an elevated capacity as a GM. His first task? Persuading Poile to can a floundering coach in John Hynes and fully move on to a new era of Smashville Hockey.
News broke last week that former Predators Left Winger, Andrew Brunette was in fact that man Trotzy believed in to be the new way forward as Head Coach. His prestigious resume as an NHL assistant and interim HC in Florida is lengthy, but perhaps overshadowed by his history with Nashville, and even David Poile.
After being drafted to Washington by David Poile some thirty years ago, he tagged along when the GM departed to start the expansion franchise and quickly cemented his name in Preds folklore, scoring the first goal in the organization’s history.
Under the watch of John Hynes, Smashville has been slightly above average but not many thought he would deliver this squad over the hump. Mediocre hockey and an offense that averaged under three goals a game was not going to get it done. Where was the swagger? Where was the life the Preds had for years when pushing for a Cup run?
Thankfully, hope is on the horizon. Andrew Brunette is well revered as a Power Play mastermind and an offensive whizbang. The two areas Nashville struggled the most in 2022-2023. Brunette’s ability to turn around beleaguered scoring units on a dime is likely to pay dividends for the Preds immediately.
Despite not having official Head Coaching experience, an impressive showing in the ’21-’22 campaign as the Florida Panthers’ interim coach put him high on the radar for teams in search of a new HC. Many were shocked when Brunette was not offered the full-time position following the season. However, the move turned out to work well for both sides as the Panthers skated their way to the 2023 Stanley Cup Finals, and Brunette revived the New Jersey Devils offense before accepting the Predators gig.
Along with having a mixed roster of talented youth and seasoned veterans, the fan base can believe the future is now. More moves are necessary this off-season to perfect the back line and give All-Star goaltender Juuse Saros some defensive help. If Trotzy and Brunette can get this done, a 2023-2024 Central Division Championship is not out of the question.