Nashville, Tenn. (May 31, 2023) – Incoming Nashville Predators General Manager Barry Trotz announced today that the team has hired Andrew Brunette as the fourth head coach in franchise history.
“When I look at our roster and those in our system, we have a lot of fast, skilled players and we will likely select more of those types of players in this year’s draft,” Trotz said. “We want to become more of an offensive team and Andrew specializes on that side of the ice – he lived it as a player, and he coaches it as a coach. He is as good of an offensive teacher and power-play coach as there is in the game today. He will be great with our young players, and I know, because of his background as a player, he will connect well with our top, skilled players. At the end of the day, he is a good person who looks forward to working in partnership with our players to make them, and our team, better. I can’t wait to get in the foxhole with him.”
A veteran of more than 25 years in the NHL as a player, coach or front office member, Brunette, 49, comes to Nashville after serving as an associate coach for the New Jersey Devils during the 2022-23 campaign. The Devils finished second in the Metropolitan Division and third in the Eastern Conference with a 52-22-8 record (112 points) and reached the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs following a seven-game series victory over the New York Rangers in the opening round. New Jersey tied for fourth in the NHL in goals with 289, the franchise’s highest total since 2000-01.
“I am super excited to be back in Nashville and a part of the Predators organization,” Brunette said. “I feel like this is coming full circle for my career – from pulling on the jersey for the first time 25 years ago to returning now to take care of some unfinished business. It has been awesome to see how this city and its fanbase have grown since I played here and I look forward to continuing the legacy and the culture behind the bench that Barry cultivated that inaugural season.”
In 2021-22, Brunette took over as interim head coach of the Florida Panthers – his first NHL head coaching job – less than a month into the campaign and guided the club to the best regular season in franchise history, going 58-18-6 (122 points) en route to the Presidents’ Trophy. In addition to owning the League’s best record, the Panthers led the NHL in goals (337) and posted a power-play percentage of 24.4 percent, tied for the NHL’s fourth-best mark. Several Florida skaters established offensive career highs, including Aleksander Barkov (39 goals), Jonathan Huberdeau (85 assists and 115 points), Sam Reinhart (82 points) and Aaron Ekblad (57 points); Barkov was a finalist for the Selke Trophy and Huberdeau was named to the NHL’s Second All-Star Team. For his efforts, Brunette finished second in voting for the Jack Adams Award, given to the NHL’s top head coach.
He spent the previous two seasons as an assistant coach for the Panthers, reaching the postseason in both campaigns. Prior to his stint in Florida, Brunette was with the Minnesota Wild organization for seven seasons, occupying several roles and qualifying for the playoffs on six occasions. He served as Minnesota’s director of player personnel in 2018-19; was an assistant general manager in 2017-18; spent three seasons as a hockey operations advisor in 2012-14 and 2016-17; and stood behind the bench of an NHL team for the first time from 2014-16 as an assistant coach.
“I want to applaud and congratulate Barry for his methodical approach to evaluating our head coaching position and his ultimate decision to name Andrew as the next head coach of the Nashville Predators,” outgoing Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile said. “As we transition the general manager’s position from my hands to Barry’s, it was important for me and our organization to let Barry decide what is best for the franchise moving forward. I like and agree with the selection of Andrew Brunette, but perhaps most importantly, I think Barry’s process and diligence in making that hire was excellent – one more reason I know he is right to be our next general manager.”
As a player, the 6-foot-1, 215-pound forward appeared in 1,110 games during his 16-season NHL career for Washington, Nashville, Atlanta, Minnesota, Colorado and Chicago, posting 733 points (268g-465a). He played for Trotz, Nashville’s first-ever head coach, on the Predators’ inaugural team in 1998-99, recording 31 points (11g-20a) in 77 games, scoring the first goal in franchise history on Oct. 13, 1998 vs. Carolina. Originally selected by Washington in the seventh round (174th overall) of the 1993 NHL Draft, Brunette reached the 50-point mark eight times, including a career-high 83 points (27g-56a) with the Avalanche in 2006-07, earning votes for the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, given to the player who exhibits the best sportsmanship, on seven occasions.
In addition to playing for Trotz in Nashville, Brunette began his professional career with the incoming Predators GM as his head coach on the AHL’s Portland Pirates in 1993-94, where the two won the Calder Cup. The following season, Brunette made his NHL debut with Washington but also spent 69 games with Portland under Trotz, posting 94 points (28g-66a) on his way to being named to the AHL’s Second All-Star Team. Brunette served as an alternate captain in seven of his final 10 NHL seasons, holding the title with Minnesota and Colorado, and is one of just 25 players drafted in the seventh round or later in League history to skate in more than 1,000 career NHL games.
“I am very pleased to announce that Andrew Brunette will be our head coach when we start the 2023-24 NHL season this October,” Trotz said. “As we look to bring back some of that iconic ‘Predators culture,’ I can think of no better coach than Andrew to lead our team moving forward. He thrived in that culture, and I believe he will coach our team in that same manner. And, while we did not hire Andrew because he was a key part of our first-ever team, I do like the fact that he has played games as a member of the Predators.”