The past three months and change have felt like nothing but changes for the Nashville Predators. They dealt several players at the trade deadline, had an influx of youth due to that and injuries, and announced a General Manager change in the midst of the fire sale.
But the news that just came out is the cherry on top of what has been signaled for months, and something at which the Predators have been directly hinting for weeks now.
They have officially parted ways with John Hynes, ending his chaotic tenure of roughly three-and-a-half years in Nashville. Giving him another shot would have been justified with how the Predators ended last year, them being in an uncertain state, and him having another year under contract with the team.
But there were still a lot of doubts about Hynes’ ceiling and ability to adapt to the modern game, and I think Barry Trotz made the right call in letting him go. His first major decision as General Manager, the franchise’s second in their history taking over for David Poile.
The Predators already have his replacement in Andrew Brunette, who has been an assistant for most of his NHL coaching career, but was a head coach for nearly all of 2021-22 with the Florida Panthers, and winning the President’s Trophy.
With multiple head coaching positions across the NHL still open, Brunette was believed to be a heavily sought-after candidate, with him most recently being an assistant for the New Jersey Devils.
So not only did the Nashville Predators hire someone with a bright reputation, they also defied just about every past narrative about their organization with this decision.
Nashville Predators will look completely different soon
Poile was the only General Manager in Predators’ history before he announced his planned retirement, and throughout his entire tenure they were always known as a defense-first team. Offense has rarely been their strength, and it is evidenced by the fact that until 2021-22, they never had a player record over a point per game in a season.
Trotz, in his coaching days, oversaw a similar style of play, so there was a chance that the Predators were not going to change much with him being head of the front and officially taking over in July. Hiring Brunette says otherwise.
Brunette was a forward as an NHL player, and coached an offensive style on the Panthers that was backed up by the metrics they posted in that season.
Trotz himself even mentioned that he has a drastically different vision for the Predators than we saw in the past.
Whenever a new style of play is implemented, it can take time for things to gel, and the hiring of Brunette shows that Trotz understands that as well. Everything about Brunette’s experience and accomplishments so far shows that he is up for the task of developing a young team like the Predators are.
First of all, it is a huge relief that the Predators did not hire another recycled head coach such as Gerard Gallant or Peter Laviolette. They are a team that needs a new and fresh approach, and bringing in someone whose ceiling has been proven repeatedly would not have been a good fit for what they need.
“He will be great with our young players, and I know, because of his background as a player, he will connect well with our top, skilled players. At the end of the day, he is a good person who looks forward to working in partnership with our players to make them, and our team, better. I can’t wait to get in the foxhole with him.” -Barry Trotz on Andrew Brunette Connecting with the Young Roster, Per the Official Team Website
But it is also helpful that Brunette does have some experience, and is somewhat proven in the fact that he took a team to a President’s Trophy title. And this was a team that had Joel Quenneville resign early in that season due to his involvement in the Chicago Blackhawks’ Kyle Beach scandal.
So what Brunette has shown is that he has philosophies needed to succeed in the modern game, but he can also keep a team together and focused despite distractions and imperfections that could hold them back.
For a Predators’ team that is in a trial-and-error phase, that is really important and it shows that Trotz is committed to getting the most out of the skilled youth. And given the thoroughness and overall nature of the new hiring process, it seems like he was truly committed to finding the exact right guy for the new-look Predators.
Now, we have to remember that Brunette’s Panthers did not look very good when they were in the playoffs and got swept by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the second round. He will have to put in work himself in order to achieve his potential, but that is ok because the Predators are not in win-now mode, and should not be.
It is such a breath of fresh air for the fans and media of the team who were begging for the organization to make big changes. Everyone was getting tired of the same old boring and uncreative offense that would not adjust their style or intentions to win now, when they were not going to achieve anything meaningful that way.
Pretty much everything that has happened since it was announced that Trotz would take over as GM has been what everyone was asking for. Get ready, we are truly entering a new era of Predators hockey, and one that is filled with potential not seen in years.