A few minutes ago, the Nashville Predators announced they have named Ben Vanderklok to be their new goaltending coach.
A former netminder in the Ontario Hockey League, Vanderklok has been studying under former Nashville goaltending coach Mitch Korn for the last five years. Korn, whose contract expired at the end of this past campaign, will be moving on from the franchise he’s served for 15 seasons to the Washington Capitals (per The Tennessean).
One of Nashville’s worst kept secrets, Korn helped Predators goalies such as Pekka Rinne, Tomas Vokoun and Chris Mason rise from unknown status to become quality NHL starting netminders. Just a couple months ago, Rinne credited Korn for helping him mature and grow to the point that he could become the Predators all-time wins leader.
“He’s been an important guy in my road here. There’s no doubt the last nine years he’s made a difference for sure. Obviously he’s got a good track record. So along with Mitch there are a lot of people that I’m very thankful to for getting me this far,” Rinne said.
Korn will be missed in Nashville, but the promotion of Vanderklok should be recognized for what it is: A well-deserved, in-house promotion for an individual that has put in the time with almost all of the Predators current goaltenders and prospects. Nashville general manager David Poile was highly complimentary of Vanderklok today saying, “This is a natural fit to have Ben transition into the lead role, and his relationship with Pekka Rinne and Carter Hutton will make this process seamless.”
So that’s another coaching change this offseason for a Predators staff that will have a very different look in the fall. Earlier this year, Nashville hired Peter Laviolette to serve as the franchise’s second-ever head coach, and signed Kevin McCarthy as an assistant. The Vanderklok promotion now marks the third change in the last four months.
“This decision draws from what we say about our young players: ‘The road to Nashville goes through Milwaukee.’ That was true for Ben, and he’s shown he’s ready for this,” Poile said. “Just like a prospect he’s put in the time, work and shown he’s ready for the next level. Now he’s ready for the big job.”