When the Nashville Predators begin play for the 2013-14 season, they will do so with the mission of trying to bounce back from their first season below the .500 mark in more than a decade. Head coach Barry Trotz will enter the season as the longest-tenured coach in the league, and will have some new help joining him on the bench. Last week the Predators parted ways with longtime assistant coach Peter Horachek, and have announced that former All-Star defenseman Phil Housley will take his place.
Housley most recently coached with Team USA at the 2013 IIHF World Championships. That team brought home a bronze medal, which was the first medal of any kind for the U.S. in nine years. Earlier in 2013, Housley was behing the bench for Team USA and helped the team bring home a gold medal at the 2013 World Junior Championship. He played in more than 1,400 games for eight different teams over 21 seasons and his 1,232 points ranks fourth all-time among defensemen.
Horachek had been with the Predators for nine seasons and worked with draft picks and special teams. As a player, Housley was a gifted offensive defenseman who was great on the power play, so it’s not crazy to think he will have a similar role. He has a proven track record of working well with young players, and defenseman like Shea Weber, Roman Josi and Kevin Klein could be in for significant improvements in production if Housley can get through to them. Trotz is the only head coach the Predators have had over the course of their existence, but a second-straight season of finishing under .500 could mean the end of his time there.