Shea Weber is the captain of the Nashville Predators. He’s signed until 2026. One assumes they’ll build around one of the top five defensemen in hockey rather than deal him.
So when your franchise pillar says the following, it echoes through Music City:
"Nobody likes losing. It's frustrating," he said, pausing for a second. "I don't know. I don't know what to say. It sucks. I hate it. Everyone in here hates it, and it's not a good feeling. Something's got to change. We have to get better, and we have to find a way to get into the postseason."
They’ve missed the postseason for two straight seasons, getting eliminated on Tuesday night in a shootout loss to Dallas. Weber’s looking at Ryan Suter and the Minnesota Wild making it both of those years. He’s look at that offer sheet from the Philadelphia Flyers and seeing that team in the playoffs. And then he’s looking at the Predators and a locker room filled with angst over being a non-playoff team.
So what changes?
Barry Trotz goes.
That’s what changes.
The only coach in franchise history has a contract that expires on June 30, according to Jim Diamond of Rinkside Report, who spells out a compelling case for why Trotz won’t be back:
A ‘meh’ on-ice product has led to a noticeable level of apathy among the people who write checks to the Predators – those highly cherished season ticketholders. Renewals are down despite the organization offering ticketholders what one marketing insider described as “everything but a ride to the rink” if they renewed.
… By parting ways with Trotz, Poile buys himself some time. Let’s face it, when ownership is looking for change, if you are not the one who makes it, you are likely the one who will be changed. The non-hockey side of operations has the ear of ownership just as much as Poile and his crew do, and they are doing more than whispering their ideas on how things should be changed to the owners.
It’s the most logical choice to make, really, and an easy marketing hook for next season: New face behind the bench, new energy, fresh start.
Even if firing Trotz means the end of an era for Predators fans. Jonathan Garcia of On The Forecheck writes:
It's kind of hard to fathom that Nashville has been under the same leadership for 15 years. But at the end of the day the owners need people to walk through the doors of Bridgestone Arena. Many of you have repeatedly said how you wouldn't be doing so if there wasn't a change made. It looks like you all are going to get your wish.
What it doesn’t do is solve the main problems with the Predators: Too much talent departing, not enough talent coming in, and a collection of contracts that Poile’s given out that have handcuffed him. They have 17 players under contract for next season from the NHL roster, and Filip Forsberg waiting in the wings. They have four RFAs in Nick Spalling, Michael Del Zotto, Mattias Ekholm and Ryan Ellis.
Unless Poile gets wheeling and dealing, this roster’s not going to look that much dramatically different next season, is it?
But the guy coaching them will. Unless they hire Bruce Boudreau or Claude Julien, then he’ll sorta look the same. But those guys are busy.