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Barry Trotz fired as Nashville Predators coach, but real problem remains

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Barry Trotz and Shea Weber of the Nashville Predators

Predators coach Barry Trotz (with Shea Weber) was synonymous with conservative, defensive hockey. (AP)

By Allan Muir

It’s been clear for some time now that the Nashville Predators were a stale mix in need of a fresh perspective.

They’re finally going to get one … only it’s not the one they really need.

It was announced this morning that Barry Trotz’s contract will not be extended and that the organization is in the market for a new head coach for the 2014-15 season. According to a team statement, Trotz has been offered a position within the organization’s hockey operations department and will consider his options before making a decision on the position.

“Our organization has high expectations and we have not met them in the past two seasons,” general manager David Poile said. “As a result, it is my decision and determination that we need a new voice and a new direction. Our change in direction began over a year ago as we have made several personnel changes, including the trading of long-time veteran players and a change to our coaching staff last offseason. Our goal is to return to the playoffs with the ultimate goal of contending for the Stanley Cup. We know that once we get into the playoffs, anything is possible.

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  • Published On Apr 14, 2014
  • Does the Predators’ Shea Weber deserve the Norris Trophy?

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    Shea Weber could retire tomorrow and have a pretty nice career to reflect on. Two Olympic gold medals. A two-time NHL First Team All Star. A number that’ll be retired one day in Nashville. A pretty good shot at the Hall of Fame, too.

    But one thing that’s missing from his resume is a Norris Trophy. Weber’s been recognized as one of the best defensemen in the game for several years now and twice he’s finished as the first runner-up for the award, but the hardware has eluded him.

    That’s something the Predators would like to change. They’ve been pushing the narrative of this being Weber’s best season ever for a week or so now, with coach Barry Trotz leading the charge. “He’s not getting the accolades across the league that he would if we were a little higher in the standings, but it’s by far his best season in terms of production,” Trotz said. “And we’re basically breaking in five defensemen, maybe four … and he’s having a terrific season.”

    Now the team is taking the offensive one step further by sending out this promotional video extolling his virtues. Smart move? You bet. Despite universal recognition of his greatness, he’s sort of a back-of-mind candidate. Even with his big numbers, his profile suffers from playing for a small-market team that’s been circling the playoff drain for a couple months already.

    Will this will help end his Norris drought? We’ll find out in June.

  • Published On Apr 03, 2014
  • GIF: Predators’ Seth Jones leaves game with upper body injury, will not return

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    Shaw hit on Jones
    By Darian Somers

    Rookie defenseman Seth Jones of the Nashville Predators took a big hit from Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw along the neutral zone boards with 7:23 left in the first period of Sunday’s game, but continued to play for the remainder of the period. The Predators later announced he’d suffered an upper body injury and wouldn’t return for the start of the second.

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  • Published On Mar 23, 2014
  • GIF: Senators’ Cody Ceci hit in head with Shea Weber slapshot

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    By Mike McMahon

    Nashville Predators defenseman Shea Weber and his slapshot are keeping the Ottawa Senators’ trainers busy tonight.

    First, Weber’s vicious shot caught Senators goaltender Craig Anderson up high on the chest protector. Anderson would stay in the game, but needed several minutes to catch his breath. Just minutes after resuming play, Weber’s slapshot hit Ottawa defenseman Cody Ceci in the head, leaving him with a (very) bloody gash and causing him to exit the game. Here’s a GIF of the painful play, (via Sporting News).

  • Published On Mar 10, 2014
  • Nashville Predators broadcaster Pete Weber hospitalized after heart attack

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    Nashville Predators broadcaster Pete Weber

    Predators broadcaster Pete Weber is one of the NHL’s good guys. (Rick Diamond/Getty Images for NATD)

    By Allan Muir

    Scary news this afternoon out of St. Paul where it was reported that Predators play-by-play man Pete Weber was hospitalized after suffering a heart attack.

    Weber was in his hotel room on Wednesday night — ahead of Thursday’s game against the Wild — when he began feeling chest pains. He was rushed by ambulance to a local hospital, where he now is “comfortable and out of danger” in his own words.

    You always hear during moments like this what a good guy someone is or how well liked they are. The words couldn’t be any truer than when speaking of Weber. He’s one of the nicest, most accommodating people in the business and a great ambassador for Nashville as well as the sport. Send a good thought his way when you have a minute.

    The broadcast will go on tonight with the team’s radio play-by-play man Willy Daunic in the booth alongside Terry Crisp.

  • Published On Feb 06, 2014
  • Rangers finally deal Michael Del Zotto to Predators for Kevin Klein

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    Defenseman Michael Del Zotto was traded by the New York Rangers to the Nashvillle Predators.

    A change of scenery may be just what Michael Del Zotto needs to regain his confidence. (David Hahn/Icon SMI)

    By Allan Muir

    Well, now we know why it took so long for the Rangers to move disaffected defenseman Michael Del Zotto: There was no market for him.

    It’s hard to take away anything else from today’s deal that sent the former first rounder to the Predators for nothing more than a depth defender such as rapid-fire artist Kevin Klein.

    As much of a beauty as he was in that tilt, Klein hasn’t been particularly effective this season for Nashville. The 29-year old is a limited defensive player whose stats, both standard (one goal, three points) and fancy (44 percent Corsi, -4.4 percent relative Corsi), don’t paint a very pretty picture.

    What might have made Klein appealing to New York is that he is locked down. He’s signed through 2018 at a cap hit of $2.9 million per season, which gives GM Glen Sather some cost certainty moving forward. That’s not much value here, though, and Klein is clearly a significant downgrade from what Sather originally hoped to get in return.

    As for Del Zotto, he doesn’t have ideal size, but he’s a terrific skater whose bread and butter has always been his offensive skills. He’s a lefty, too, which has been a pressing blueline need for the Predators.

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  • Published On Jan 22, 2014
  • Predators add Devan Dubnyk in trade; Oilers obtain Ben Scrivens

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    Goaltender Ben Scrivens of the Los Angeles Kings was traded to the Edmonton Oilers.

    Early season star Ben Scrivens must now duplicate his performance behind the Oilers’ much weaker defense. (AP)

    By Allan Muir

    The update on the health of goaltender Pekka Rinne issued by the Predators last week may have sounded rosy on the surface, but anyone who read between the lines could have surmised that there is a very real chance the All-Star stopper won’t be back this season.

    The team finally handled up on that grim possibility today. Recognizing that their playoff chances were slipping away, and that they weren’t going to climb back into the race with a pair of rookies between the pipes, the Preds sent veteran forward Matt Hendricks to the Oilers in exchange for goaltender Devan Dubnyk.

    Dubnyk began the season as Edmonton’s No. 1 goalie, but lost whatever tenuous hold he had on the job when the team picked up Ilya Bryzgalov in November. That he hasn’t been able to reclaim it while Bryz has gone 3-7-2 with a 3.27 GAA and .902 save percentage illustrates how fully Dubnyk had lost the faith of the Oilers’ coaching staff. And it shows just how little it took to upgrade Nashville’s current situation, where Carter Hutton and Marek Mazanec weren’t getting it done.

    Getting out of Edmonton might be the best thing to happen to the former first rounder (14th overall, 2004). He won’t make anyone forget Rinne, but playing behind a more structured defense than he has during the past few years gives him a chance to create some impression of value before he heads to unrestricted free agency this summer.

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  • Published On Jan 15, 2014
  • Pekka Rinne update: Don’t leave a light on for him in Nashville this season

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    Goaltender Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators

    Pekka Rinne’s return from hip surgery and an infection will take longer than the Predators hoped. (Getty Images)

    By Allan Muir

    On Thursday, the Nashville Predators reneged on a promise to update the condition of ailing goaltender Pekka Rinne, prompting speculation that whatever the latest tests revealed, it was anything but good.

    Turned out that it wasn’t too bad after all. Sort of.

    From the Preds:

    We are encouraged and pleased to report that Pekka is moving on to the next stage in his recovery and rehabilitation. He has been cleared to begin weight-bearing exercises under the supervision of Dr. Thomas Byrd. There is no timetable for this stage as that will be evaluated by Dr. Byrd and our medical team on a daily basis. Our primary objective is to insure Pekka’s full recovery and return to the ice by taking every possible precaution throughout the process. We will provide further updates when available.

    Good to hear that he appears to be making some progress. But at this point in Nashville’s season, “some progress” doesn’t sound too promising, either.

    Although the unnamed “we” in the release doesn’t specifically say as much, the message is pretty clear: Don’t leave a light on for Rinne. He’s gonna be out for a while.

    Which leads to the question: how much longer until they shut him down for the year?

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  • Published On Jan 10, 2014
  • NHL 14 Cover Vote: Mike Fisher has a few ideas…

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    By Allan Muir

    Is there anything Mike Fisher can’t do? First he does most of the heavy lifting for Nashville’s offense. Now he has to carry the team’s marketing department as well.

    Facing a run-off this week against Detroit forward Pavel Datsyuk in the EA Sports NHL 14 Cover Vote contest, Fisher took it upon himself to pitch the big ideas needed to win fan support.

    He’s ready to ride the coattails of pop culture trends (“How about battle axes? Game of Thrones is kind of a big deal right now.”), enlist celebrity friends (“I thought we could get a couple guys…Paisley, McGraw…”) and take shots at his opponent (“I don’t see Datsyuk coming up with any ideas, do you?”).

    And if it comes down to it, he’s not afraid to ask the tough questions (“Do you think Queen Elizabeth has Google?”) or to carry a man purse. Yes, a man purse. Hey, if you were that dreamy, you could get away with it, too.

    It all makes his wife laugh. It’ll probably make you laugh, too. And if it makes you want to vote, you can do it here.

  • Published On May 09, 2013
  • Sergei Kostitsyn: Brain-dead play of the year!

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    By Allan Muir

    Hockey is a game of mistakes. Passes through the middle of the defensive zone, missed assignments, lazy penalties…stuff like that happens all the time.

    But it’s not often you’ll see one like this.

    With the Oilers and Predators locked up at one midway through the third and the puck in Edmonton’s zone, Nashville’s Sergei Kostitsyn has a pass bounce over his stick above the circles. He races Sam Gagner to the loose puck, but the Oiler beats him to it in the neutral zone.

    Kostitsyn pursues for a moment…and then pulls up and goes to the bench, allowing Lennart Petrell to join and create a two-on-one rush that he finished to give Edmonton a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

    There are mistakes. There are bad mistakes. And then there are, “Would you mind telling me what the hell you were thinking?” mistakes.

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  • Published On Mar 18, 2013