When it was announced that the Nashville Predators had an assistant coaching vacancy, head coach Barry Trotz received calls, texts and emails from potential candidates around the country.
Trotz was grateful, however promptly responded to each inquiry with the same response: Thank you, but we already have our guy.
"There was no discussion, I knew who I wanted to bring up," Trotz said in a conference call Thursday afternoon. "It was Lane Lambert."
Lambert, who spent the last four seasons as coach of the Milwaukee Admirals, the Predators' American Hockey League affiliate, was hired this week as an assistant coach for Nashville in the 2011-12 season. He will fill the position previously occupied by Brent Peterson. Peterson will assume an off-ice role with the team next season as he battles Parkinson's disease.
Trotz said that Peterson leaves big shoes to fill -- "I saw him as a head coach in the League one day," he said -- but he is confident that Lambert will excel in the role.
"I think I have a very big comfort level with Lane, and in terms of personality wise, I know what he brings to the table," Trotz said. "He can be very effective for us and there was nobody else for the job. It was Lane."
Lambert's hiring was one of two coaching moves the Predators announced Thursday. Nashville also signed longtime goalie coach Mitch Korn to a contract extension.
Lambert said the first person who contacted him after the hiring was Peterson. That gesture exemplified what Nashville's organization is all about, Lambert said. And it's why he's so excited to continue his progression as a hockey coach at the next level with the Predators.
"I say it over and over again: I feel very fortunate to be in the Nashville Predators organization," Lambert said. "It's such a well-respected organization, and why it is, is because of the way they treat people."
In his four-year tenure with Milwaukee, Lambert went 178-118-37, the sixth-most wins in the AHL in that span. In addition, the Admirals posted at least 40 wins and 90 points all four seasons under Lambert, making them the first team in League history to reach the marks in eight consecutive campaigns.
He helped lead the Admirals to a pair of division titles in his tenure, including last season when Milwaukee led the Western Conference with 102 points.
Eleven members of Nashville's 2011 playoff roster played for Lambert in Milwaukee, and 17 of the 33 players who suited up for the Predators for at least one 2010-11 regular season game spent time playing for him.
"Lane is one of the best young up-and-coming coaches in the sport today," General Manager David Poile said in a press release. "Similar to our philosophy on player development, we believe in promoting from within whenever possible. Lane has successfully coached and mentored more than half the players on our current roster, and many more who are coming through the pipeline, so he will fit seamlessly into Barry Trotz's staff."
Meanwhile Korn, who has been with the organization since 1998, signed what the Tennessean reported as a three-year contract. He has been instrumental in the development of several Nashville goaltenders, including 2011 Vezina Trophy finalist Pekka Rinne, who finished second in the NHL this past season with a .930 save percentage and third with a 2.12 goals-against average.
"Mitch Korn is the best goaltending coach in the National Hockey League, as evidenced by his development of this organization's goaltenders, from Year 1 with Mike Dunham and Tomas Vokoun, to this past season with Vezina Trophy finalist Pekka Rinne and promising rookie Anders Lindback," Poile said. "Our goaltending is a big part of our success, and Mitch is at the forefront of that."