Andrew Brunette transform the Predators with tough love.
Denny Simmons/The Tennessean  

Andrew Brunette transform the Predators with tough love.

An NHL head coach decided to put his team back in their place... and it has paid off huge.

Jonathan Larivee

Nashville Predators head coach Andrew Brunette took a huge risk this season, one that very well could have damaged his reputation as a head coach in the National Hockey League, but his gamble has paid off in a major way.

The 2023-24 Nashville Predators will likely go down as a tale of two different teams.

During the team's first 54 games of the regular season, the Predators struggled with all sorts of issues and managed to put up a fairly mediocre record of 27 wins, 25 losses and an additional 2 overtime losses.

Things took a drastic change in the month of February however when Brunette made what was at the time a highly controversial decision. Following a brutal 9-2 loss at the hands of the Dallas Stars, Brunette decide that he was going to punish his team for their poor play on the ice.

The team had previously requested an early trip to Las Vegas, ahead of a game against the Golden Knights later in the week, in order to attend a U2 concert at The Sphere. The request had been approved earlier in the season but, after his team's poor performance, Brunette made the decision to cancel the trip altogether to send a message to his locker room.

At the time the decision was regarded as highly controversial due not only to the players being punished, but also due to the fact that other members of the Predators staff were also slated to join the players for the event at The Sphere.

While there will no doubt be some who will continue to question the decision from Brunette, what you can't argue with after 16 games are the results that decision has produced. Roughly one month after taking the risky decision, you have to believe that Brunette must be patting himself on the back.

Since his fateful decision on that day, his team has rallied. In their 16 games since Brunette cancelled the early trip the Predators have posted a record of 14 wins and 2 losses, with neither of those losses coming during regulation. In fact the streak of 16 consecutive games with at least a point has been good enough to establish a new franchise record for the Predators.

The Predators have gone from what looked like a rather forgettable season to legitimately battling for a playoff spot with the team currently sitting 4th in the NHL's Central Division. If the Predators do manage to complete the comeback and squeeze into the playoffs, there will be many who will be pointing to Brunette's decision back in February as the catalyst for their success.