Tuesday, Peter Laviolette was named the second head coach in the history of the Nashville Predators.
To hear general manager David Poile speak about the end of Barry Trotz’s tenure and the start of Laviolette’s, it sounded a lot like the sporting equivalent of a relationship gone stale and one party in the relationship developed a wandering eye.
The storyline could mirror one of a daytime soap opera. Two people familiar with one another run into each other in the produce section of the grocery store, which evolves into stopping off for coffee, and it goes on from there.
It wasn’t as overt as Poile taking out a personal ad ask if anyone liked piña coladas or getting caught in the rain, but in all, it meant that Trotz’s tenure with the Predators would soon be over after 15 seasons with the team.
It started out innocently enough. David Poile was the general manager of Team USA for the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games and Laviolette was one of the team’s assistant coaches. When the Philadelphia Flyers fired Laviolette just three games into the 2013-14 season, he had a lot more time on his hands to do some pre-Olympic work for Team USA.
“Obviously one of the things that favored Peter in this situation is that I’ve known him for a number of years based on a lot of our mutual work with USA Hockey and especially last year with the Olympics, naming him one of the three coaches, basically interviewing him at that point for that position and then getting to work with him all year long,” Poile said at his Tuesday afternoon press conference. “When he lost his job with Philadelphia after three games last year, I basically talked to him at least once or twice a week through that whole process. I used him as a conduit between myself and the coaches. So, subliminally, we had a general manager/coach relationship the whole year last year. As I said, I’ve interviewed a few people, but that’s one or two interviews. With Peter Laviolette, basically in some form, I was interviewing him all year long.”
Was Poile having thought bubbles of doubt all season long?
- How he and Barry had been together for an awfully long time.
- And his head coach has never won a Stanley Cup like Peter has.
- This team can’t seem to score goals, but the teams Peter has coached have consistently found the back of the net.
At Trotz’s press conference the day it was announced that he would not be back as head coach, he admitted that he could tell things were different between he and Poile. A late-season conversation told him everything he needed to know.
“I’ve been with David for 30 years, and he is wonderful,” Trotz said at the time. “He is a first-class guy and I knew he was hurting. I asked him a question and he got a little emotional like I did.”
It probably resembled that scene in the movie Airplane where a husband and wife are shown after dinner and the woman thinks to herself, “Jim never has a second cup of coffee at home,” or later when dinner had made him ill, she again thinks, “Jim never vomits at home.”
In all seriousness, Poile probably got the right man for the job. If anyone can fix the systemic offensive woes that have plagued the Predators over the years, he is the guy.
At Tuesday’s press conference, Poile indicated that Laviolette thinks that the pieces that are in place up front may just need a second chance under a new regime.
On an afternoon conference call, Predators forward Matt Cullen was excited for the opportunity to play for Laviolette again. Cullen played for him in Carolina, winning the Stanley Cup in 2006.
“I think he’s a great fit for our team and what we need going forward,” Cullen said. “I think a lot of Peter as a coach. He’s a good person and he just has a real ability to bring out the best in all of his players whether you are a fourth line guy or a first line guy or a first year guy in the league or a veteran.”