In a city that clings to its coaches like a kindergartner clings to Daddy's leg, the clamor for changes at the top is — while certainly understandable — disconcerting.
After another measly season from the Titans, Mike Munchak's duck is lamer than his playcalling. At the same time, the Predators' propensity for winless weeks this season — after spending dearly in the offseason — raises questions about whether Barry Trotz has worn out his welcome at Fifth and Broad. Both men epitomize characteristics of their organizations that are equal parts admirable and frustrating.
The late Bud Adams' fetishism for the Love Ya Blue era Houston Oilers, and the resulting franchise-wide commitment to — well, commitment — finds its Platonic ideal in Munchak. An Oilers great who worked his way up, Munchak waited his turn until he finally (and fatalistically) was given the head coach's headset, but only after the team's 15-year relationship with Jeff Fisher had long since run its course. That ended in all but open warfare between Fisher and Adams about the utility of Vince Young.
Meanwhile, Barry Trotz doesn't just represent The Predator Way: He's its author. Broadly speaking, it's a style of hockey that emphasizes head-down hard work, frequently at the expense of skill. Trotz squeezes every ounce of blood from the turnips who populate his roster, repeats "Predator Way" like a mantra and drags teams full of Whosthats into the playoffs.
But why the sudden calls for change? For Munchak, it's simple: His teams have been shiftless, directionless wind-up toys, banging their heads repeatedly into walls — which, to their credit, makes them a lot like the fans who watch them every week. Eyebrows shot up all over Nashville when Munchak declared, after Sunday's brutal loss to the Broncos, that the team was heading in the right direction. Many folks were surprised to learn the Titans were heading in any discernible direction at all, other than headfirst toward the Cumberland.
Trotz, on the other hand, may be a victim of his own success. He's led the team to the playoffs seven times, so missing the mark in consecutive years (as the Predators seem destined to do) has fans angry and looking for someone to blame. Whether that falls on Trotz or on general manager David Poile is a matter of rather vociferous debate. But in these situations, the coach tends to take the brunt of the ire.
In short, both men represent something fans see as outmoded, outdated or out of touch. Whether a change benefits both teams, however — that isn't settled science.
Munchak has frequently appeared out of his depth. After three seasons digging their chinstraps out of the turf, the Titans could benefit from new blood — and for once, truly new blood. With Adams' death, the front office is free of the strictures of his nostalgia and should demand the new owners let them explore this freedom.
Munchak could explore his job options, but few would be forthcoming. He was a rumored candidate for the Penn State gig after Joe Paterno's death. How perfectly Munchak would it have been for him to get yet another job because he represented some tenuous connection to the past?
Meanwhile, Barry Trotz, were he to be fired, would be unemployed for about 48 hours. His ability to grind talent-devoid teams into playoff contenders is a laudable and scarce resource in the NHL.
Granted, that's not a reason to keep a coach. Any success Trotz would have elsewhere might well be a product of his message being fresher to a new team. That said, his high regard throughout the league should be reason enough to step back, set down the torches for a minute and a take a deep breath.
Changes need to come to both organizations, and those changes may take some time. For the Titans, changing the coach should be the first step. But for the Predators, it should be the last one.
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