If there’s anyone who’s been a mainstay in their job in the NHL it’s Predators coach Barry Trotz.
Since the team began operations in 1998, Trotz has been the man behind the bench. That’s 14 seasons and never once has he been threatened to be dismissed. After Lindy Ruff was fired by the Buffalo Sabres, Trotz became the longest-tenured coach in the NHL.
With that in mind, here’s a question to ponder: Is Barry Trotz an elite NHL coach?
Think of the guys around the league you might consider for that label: Mike Babcock, Joel Quenneville, Dave Tippett, Claude Julien. All except Tippett have won a Stanley Cup but he hasn’t had the luxury of steady ownership. Trotz too has been running a team that’s had financial restrictions of a different kind.
GM David Poile has only recently spent big bucks and that was to match the Flyers’ offer sheet for captain Shea Weber. His monster deal aside, anyone that’s come to Nashville has done so with a modest contract and without superstar talent.
Yet still over those 14 seasons, the Predators have made the playoffs seven times. It wasn’t until their sixth season in the league that they made the postseason the first time, but since then they’ve only missed out twice. That kind of success says he’s doing something right.
There are some things working against him. Nashville has never won a division title. It wasn’t until the 2010-11 season that they finally escaped the first round of the playoffs. Last season saw them wind up the fourth-worst team in the league and their worst win percentage since 2001-02.
Does longevity mean being an elite coach though? That’s the debate here. Let us know what you think in our poll.
When the Colorado Avalanche hit the ice in Nashville on Friday night they will be facing elimination. They will also need to rely on their third-string goalie to help get them a win if they are going to extend their season.
The team announced on Thursday that Andrew Hammond will be getting the start, replacing Jonathan Bernier who had to leave Wednesday’s game after two periods with a lower body injury. Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said Bernier’s injury has been a nagging one and that he could still be available off the bench on Friday if needed.
The Avalanche had been starting Bernier because their regular starter, Semyon Varlamov, is out for the remainder of the season due to a lower body injury of his own.
Obviously, this puts the Avalanche in a pretty tough spot. Not only because they have to go on the road against the Presidents’ Trophy winning Predators, but also because they have to turn to a goalie that, including Wednesday’s brief relief appearance, has appeared in just eight NHL games over the past two years. He has faced only 127 shots in those appearances and managed only an .874 save percentage.
Hammond’s career has been a fascinating one to this point.
Late in the 2014-15 season he came out of nowhere as a 25-year-old rookie to lead the Ottawa Senators on an improbable late season run (where Hammond put together a 20-1-2 record) to qualify for the playoffs. Nicknamed “the Hamburglar,” his initial run in Ottawa was highlighted by fans throwing hamburgers on the ice to celebrate his wins. That run earned him a contract extension with the Senators and a bunch of free hamburgers from McDonalds. It was a crazy year.
After that, though, injuries and a decline in his production have limited him to just a handful of appearances in the NHL.
The Avalanche acquired him from the Senators earlier this season as part of the Matt Duchene trade.
Now he has to jump into the crease in an elimination game.
Earlier in the game, Hartman tried to line up Sven Andrighetto from a mile out in the second period but missed, prompting the latter to come and give Hartman some business, which included a stick below the belt to Hartman.
The Predators took Game 4 by a 3-2 margin, holding off a third-period comeback attempt from the Avalanche to take a 3-1 series lead.