Predators coach sees 'groundhog day' season ahead
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Predators coach Barry Trotz says the lockout-shortened season will feel like groundhog day for players once the NHL resumes play with the constant travel and playing and shame on anyone not ready.
"We've had a lot of time off," Trotz said Tuesday.
The Predators anticipate opening training camp either Saturday or Monday at the latest and opening the season likely Jan. 19. First, players must vote on the deal and the NHL has to finish putting together an expected 48-game season.
Nashville has made the playoffs seven of the past eight seasons and reached the Western Conference semifinals each of the past two years, earning the No. 4 seed last spring. The Predators lost defenseman Ryan Suter to Minnesota through free agency but matched a 14-year, $110 million offer sheet for captain Shea Weber, a big commitment by the team's owners. They also re-signed defensemen Kevin Klein and Hal Gill and forwards Mike Fisher, Paul Gaustad, Sergei Kostitsyn and Colin Wilson to new contracts.
Trotz said hopefully what the Predators have fostered in the franchise's first 15 years hopefully will pay dividends in a shortened season that will test coaches and players daily.
"You're going to have things hit you right between the eyes and you're going to have to react the next day," Trotz said. "It can't phase you. Teams that don't get phased are going to be the ones able to get through this 48-game schedule. It's going to be compressed. It's going to be a grind. It's going to be a groundhog day for players because they're going to play or travel almost every day."
Trotz talked to reporters at the team's practice facility where some of the Predators practiced for a second straight day after the agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement. Forward Colin Wilson and Brandon Yip joined their teammates with more expected in coming days. The coach compared being limited to watching and not able to coach to the final days before training camp usually opens in September.
The coach did speak to a few of his players, limited though until the players ratify the new agreement.