Preds coach has franchise history on his side

Friday, December 6, 2019, Vol. 43, No. 49
By Mike Hopey

Nashville Predators head coach Peter Laviolette says he hasn’t felt any pressure from general manager David Poile as the Preds struggle in the latter part of November.

-- Photo By Jeff Chiu|Ap Photo

The St. Louis Blues fired their coach in November 2018. The team then rallied from last place, made the playoffs and defeated the Boston Bruins to capture the franchise’s first Stanley Cup.

The midseason firing of a head coach was seen as an act of desperation. In hindsight, it was a shrewd move.

The Toronto Maple Leafs took that gamble when they fired Mike Babcock on Nov. 20, almost a year to the date since the Blues fired their coach last year. Babcock was a coach who was known to be tough and unaccommodating, who picked favorites and whose rigid system was lost on Toronto’s talented, young core of players.

Babcock was replaced by the Maple Leafs’ American Hockey League coach Sheldon Keefe.

With the first midseason firing comes the inevitable question of who will be the next coach out. Given the team’s recent struggles, could it be the Predators’ Peter Laviolette?

It would make perfect sense that a team in the Preds’ position might look to make a change behind the bench. The Preds are still very much a contender for the Stanley Cup, but also are the oldest team in the NHL.

Older teams have fared well in the playoffs recently, but older means the window of opportunity is closing sooner than, for example, a team like Colorado.

But the Preds are unconventional when it comes to hirings and firings. The team has had one general manager, David Poile, during its 22 years as a franchise. Poile has hired two head coaches during that time, with Barry Trotz staying for the team’s first 15 seasons.

It would be safe to say that this team doesn’t rush these kinds of decisions.

Laviolette doesn’t seem to be worried about his job security. He recently told reporters he hasn’t felt any pressure from team management. That would probably have been the moment he would have felt the most pressure.

That was a day after the Preds had lost their sixth consecutive game and eight of their previous nine.