Predators bring back Mitch Korn to serve as director of goaltending

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Longtime goalie guru Mitch Korn is back with the Nashville Predators to oversee their operation at the most important position in hockey.

The team named Korn director of goaltending on Wednesday, reuniting him with now-general manager Barry Trotz for whom he worked at several coaching stops around the NHL, including 15 seasons with the Predators from 1998-2014.

"I've known and worked with Mitch for a long time, and we are happy to be welcoming back one of the great goaltending minds in the game of hockey," Trotz said in a statement announcing the hire. "Mitch's resume speaks for itself. He has an uncanny ability to communicate the language of goaltending to his players in a way that helps them easily understand how he is trying to make them better."

Korn, 66, won the Stanley Cup with Trotz and the Washington Capitals in 2018. He became renowned in the sport from his first job with the Buffalo Sabres in the '90s, when he helped Dominik Hasek develop into a two-time league MVP and six-time winner of the Vezina Trophy as the best goaltender and a Hall of Famer.

Korn most recently worked as director of goaltending for the New York Islanders, following Trotz from Washington and serving there even after longtime assistant Lane Lambert took over as coach.

Returning to Nashville, Korn will be in charge of a group that already includes goaltending coach Ben Vanderklok, goaltending development coach Jason Barron and European development coach and scout Pekka Rinne, a longtime face of the franchise who blossomed under his direction.

"With Mitch at the helm of an already impressive goaltending department that includes Ben, Jason and Pekka, I'm confident that our franchise's longtime success at the position will continue to grow," Trotz said.

Korn's biggest task could be turning top prospect Yaroslav Askarov into the elite netminder the organization hopes he will become. Juuse Saros, who has finished in the top 10 in Vezina voting for a fourth consecutive season, has one year left on his contract.

Saying he's excited to reconnect with members of the organization still around, Korn added he's most looking forward to working with Vanderklok, whom he hired as his assistant in 2009.

"He has done an amazing job during his time with the Predators, and we've maintained a strong friendship and working relationship in this industry," Korn said. "Along with Barry, Ben was instrumental in having me return to the place where my family and I made so many memories."

Korn has had a hand in the development of several current NHL goaltenders, including Seattle's Philipp Grubauer, San Jose's Vitek Vanecek, Toronto's Ilya Samsonov and the Islanders' Ilya Sorokin. Askarov, the 11th pick in the 2020 draft who turns 22 before next season starts, has the chance to be his next prized pupil.