On Monday, the Predators announced that they have fired both Head Coach Peter Laviolette and Assistant Coach, Kevin McCarthy. This move does not come as a huge surprise as the Predators have had a disappointing season thus far.
The Predators currently have a record of 19-15-7 (W-L-OTL) and they are 6th in the Central Division. It is clear that the Predators' roster has a lot of skill and this offseason, with the signing of Matt Duchene, they added even more skill. The Preds have some of the most talented players in the league but have struggled in all aspects of the game. While the goaltending has not been good enough, it has not been the only problem. Pekka Rinne and Juuse Saros have not played up to their potential but the defense, that was once the best in the league, has been achingly inconsistent.
Individual errors have made the difference in many games this season. Ever since the middle of last season and into the playoffs, the Predators have not had the same juice they had in their 2017 playoff run. Laviolette and McCarthy were in their sixth season with the team and they have undoubtedly improved the organization. The season before Laviolette and McCarthy took over, the Preds went 38-32-12 and they were three spots out of the playoffs. That year, the Predators were 5th in the central and 13th in the Western Conference. In the following seasons under Laviolette and McCarthy, the Predators were 3rd, 7th, 8th, 1st, and 3rd in the Western Conference and 2nd, 4th, 4th, 1st, and 1st in the Central Division.
The Predators made obvious improvements under Laviolette and McCarthy and they made the playoffs in all 5 seasons, reaching the Stanley Cup Finals in 2017. The firing comes after GM, David Poile, said that a coaching change was not in his immediate plans. The loss in Anaheim was Poile’s last straw though I think the winter classic put him over the edge.
If the Predators can hire the right coach, whoever that may be, I think this move will be beneficial to the team. The Predators did not appear to play with the same juice as in the past and they did not seem to be making many improvements. I think this is the right time for the move because the season is just half way over and the Predators have plenty of time to make up lost ground.
I was a very big fan of Coach Laviolette and McCarthy though I think this is the right time for the Predators to make a change. The season has not at all gone as plan and they have tried many things. There has been speculation that the Predators may promote Admirals head coach, Karl Taylor, though Predators writer, Adam Vingian, said this is unlikely. The team announced that they will not have an interim head coach so it will be very interesting to see how the next couple days unfold.