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GM says coach change 'wake-up call' for Predators

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 14, 2014 at 6:31 pm •  Published: April 14, 2014
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Trotz said losing goaltender Pekka Rinne, a two-time Vezina Trophy finalist, for 51 games to an E. coli infection in his surgically repaired left hip "blew a hole" through the Predators this season. Poile said having a healthy Rinne or even two more shootout wins after going 2-9 would have gotten Nashville into the playoffs.

Poile said that would have at least delayed this coaching change. But the general manager noted that he's been thinking about needed changes since the Predators missed what both he and Trotz thought was their best chance at a Stanley Cup in 2011-12. That team lost 4-1 to Phoenix in the Western Conference semifinals.

Trotz coached 1,196 games with Nashville, second only to Greg Popovich of the NBA's San Antonio Spurs for longest active coaching tenure in the four major sports. He is the only NHL coach to take his team to the playoffs in seven of eight seasons between 2003-04 and 2011-12, which included two conference semifinals. He was 19-31 in the postseason.

But the Predators have been in transition since losing defenseman Ryan Suter to Minnesota as a free agent in July 2012 and matching a 14-year, $110 million offer sheet to keep Weber. Poile said he's been rebuilding the Predators "on the fly" over the past year. He said upcoming changes will not include Weber, who will remain with the Predators.

With the lockout shortening the season, the Predators posted their first losing record (16-23-9) since 2002-03.

Nashville spent more than $36 million on five free agents last July. Goalie Carter Hutton did post 20 wins in Rinne's absence, but the rest of the spending spree didn't produce the offense they wanted. With Rinne's hip keeping him sidelined, they finished 10th in the West going 38-32-12 with 88 points.

"In the end, it's our fault he got fired," said forward Patric Hornqvist, "and obviously that's a huge responsibility for us and we have to be better next year."

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Follow Teresa M. Walker at www.twitter.com/teresamwalker