The Nashville Predators have decided to move in a different direction. The team announced that head coach Peter Laviolette has been relieved of his coaching duties, along with associate coach Kevin McCarthy. General manager David Poile released a short statement:
Under the leadership of Peter and Kevin, our organization reached unprecedented heights – from our franchise-altering run to the Stanley Cup Final to a Presidents’ Trophy and our first two Central Division titles. Their passion for the game, ability to motivate a team and drive to be the best makes this a difficult decision. On behalf of the entire organization, I would like to thank Peter and Kevin for all their contributions to the Nashville Predators over the past five-and-a-half seasons.
Just a few days ago Poile had claimed that Laviolette’s job was not in jeopardy, but that apparently didn’t last long. The Predators lost again last night in a shootout to the Anaheim Ducks, putting them at 19-15-7 on the season despite a positive goal differential. Their stars have been good, but the team can’t seem to get any sustained success, only once having a winning streak of more than two games. Perhaps most embarrassing was a loss to the Dallas Stars in the Winter Classic, even after getting out to a 2-0 lead.
Amazingly, the Predators are now looking for only their third coach in franchise history. Barry Trotz coached the team for their first 15 seasons, and Laviolette has been in charge since 2014. In that time he led the team to the Stanley Cup final and compiled a regular season record of 248-143-60, but clearly wasn’t the choice for the team at this point. A team representative told reporters including Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet that the head coach for the Predators’ game tomorrow night is “to be announced” as there was no interim coach named in the release.
It will be interesting to see if Laviolette quickly lands somewhere else in the NHL, as he has had an extremely successful career behind the bench. A Stanley Cup winner in 2006 with the Carolina Hurricanes, he has an all-time head coaching record of 637-425-25-123 in the regular season and 75-68 in the playoffs.