SPOKANE, Wash. — Former Spokane Chiefs head coach Dan Lambert wanted to visit Nashville.
Lambert and his wife are both big country music fans. In mid-May, they decided to take a trip there for the first time. Little did Lambert know that about three weeks later he would be getting a call from Nashville's NHL team to be an assistant coach.
"I'm thrilled," Lambert said on joining the Nashville Predators. "I guess to get another opportunity to be a coach at that level I'm really excited about it."
Lambert was an assistant in the NHL once before in the 2015-2016 season for the Buffalo Sabres.
He's spent the last two seasons with the Spokane Chiefs. He signed a two year contract extension on May 21, but things quickly changed as he took the job with the Predators just two weeks later.
He says he wasn't actively searching for a new job and that the Predators approached him about the opening.
"I wasn't looking to leave and I think that's very important. My thought was I wanted to stay in Spokane," Lambert said. "I had no intentions of leaving. Sometimes things happen and your past changes. It feels a little bit selfish at times to move on, but I truly felt like this was an opportunity I couldn't pass up."
In his time at Spokane, he compiled a record of 81-46-5-8. This past season, he led the team to the Western Hockey League Western Conference Finals. It was the deepest run for the Chiefs in the playoffs since 2011.
Chiefs front office management was not surprised in his success or that he's moving up the ranks so quickly.
"When we were first negotiating with Dan a few years ago he was was worried about (not having) a third year in the contract and how we could do it," Chiefs general manager Scott Carter said. "I remember telling him he wasn't going to be here three years and that he was going to get another job back in the pros. That ended up being the case."
Now the Chiefs turn the focus on who the next coach will be. The search has begun and the organization is focusing on 10 to 12 candidates.
"I'm not against going off the board with somebody if I feel they are a real young and upcoming coach that I think can take us to the right place," Carter said. "But I'm also looking at some established guys."
There is no timetable for when a hire will be made.