The Nashville Predators hired their first coach in franchise history on this date and he became one of the best to ever stand behind a National Hockey League bench. Plus, two Hall of Fame players landed in the final destinations of their great careers.
Predators Get Their Man
Even though they were still 14 months away from playing their first game in the NHL, the Predators hired Barry Trotz to be their head coach on Aug. 6, 1997. He had a previous relationship with Predators’ general manager David Poile.
Trotz was the head coach of the Portland Pirates, the American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate of the Washington Capitals, while Poile was their general manager. He led the Pirates to a league championship in 1994. When Poile got the job in Nashville, he was quick to bring Trotz along with him.
He would be the only head coach for the first 15 seasons of Predators hockey. He amassed a record of 555-479-160 behind their bench. His time in Nashville came to an end following the 2013-14 season.
Six weeks after being let go by the Predators, he returned to the Capitals and led them to their first-ever Stanley Cup win in 2018. He is currently the head coach of the New York Islanders. He is fourth all-time with 845 coaching wins, trailing only Ken Hitchcock (849), Joel Quenneville (925) and Scotty Bowman (1,244)
New Homes for Future Hall of Famers
On Aug. 6, 2004, Brett Hull signed with the Phoenix Coyotes, after spending the previous three seasons with the Detroit Red Wings. It appeared that Hull was going to return to the Dallas Stars, where he won the Stanley Cup in 1999, on a one-year contract. However, the Coyotes offered two years and Hull took their deal.
The first year of his contract was lost when the 2004-05 season was canceled due to the owners’ lockout. He convinced the franchise to unretire the number 9, worn by his father Bobby with the Winnipeg Jets, so he could wear it. His tenure with the Coyotes only lasted five games of the 2005-06 season. Hull felt that he could no longer play at a high level and retired on Oct. 15, 2005.
Six years later, on Aug. 6, 2010, Hull’s former teammate in Dallas, Mike Modano signed with the Red Wings. This ended a 20-season run with the Stars organization that saw Modano play in both Minnesota and Texas.
Born in Livonia, MI, Modano got to play for the team he grew up being a fan of. He had to change to number 90 because his number with the Stars, 9, was worn by Gordie Howe and was long since retired. A wrist injury limited Modano to just 40 games, where he scored four goals and 15 points. He retired following the 2010-11 season and is still the all-time leading scorer for American-born players with 1,374 points.
Odds & Ends
The San Jose Sharks acquired forward Sergei Makarov from the Hartford Whalers on Aug. 6, 1993. This completed a draft-day trade which gave the Whalers the second-overall pick of the 1993 NHL Entry Draft, which they used to select Chris Pronger.
Makarov played in 123 games over the next two seasons for the Sharks. He scored 40 goals and 92 points during his time in San Jose. He retired after four games with the Dallas Stars in 1996. He won the Calder Trophy, for being the top rookie of the 1989-90 season, with the Calgary Flames after a very successful career in the former Soviet Union. Makarov was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2016 to honor his entire international career.
On Aug. 6, 1998, the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim fired general manager Jack Ferriera and named recently-hired team president Pierre Gauthier as his replacement. Gauthier was the second general manager in franchise history and he held the job through the end of the 2001-02 season, earning one playoff appearance.
Ray Whitney signed with the Carolina Hurricanes on Aug. 6, 2005. Although his original deal was for two seasons, he spent the next five with Hurricanes. He scored nine goals and 15 points, in 24 playoff games, to help the Hurricanes win the 2006 Stanley Cup. His best season came in 2006-07 when he scored 32 goals and 83 points.
Whitney played for four more seasons after leaving Carolina following the 2009-10 season. He retired in 2014 after 22 seasons in the NHL. He scored 385 goals and 1,064 points in 1,330 games for the Sharks, Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers, Columbus Blue Jackets, Red Wings, Hurricanes, Coyotes and Stars.
Happy Birthday to You
There are 12 current and former NHL players who were born on this date. The first was Gerry Couture in 1925 and the most recent is Panthers forward Henrik Borgstrom, who was born in 1997.
Other notable players born on Aug. 6 are Erik Condra (34), Christian Djoos (26) and Andreas Athanasiou (26).