David Poile and Peter Laviolette expected their Wednesday afternoon to be spent putting the final touches on preparations for a Game 7 in their building later that night.
Instead, the general manager and the head coach of the Predators found themselves seated in front of the Nashville media at Bridgestone Arena under less desirable circumstances.
Less than 48 hours after being ousted in the first round by an overtime strike in Game 6 against the Dallas Stars, Poile and Laviolette were left to field questions on what went wrong. How did a team with so much talent and so much potential fail to advance further in the Stanley Cup Playoffs?
It's a question that will dominate the thoughts of those in charge in the days, weeks and months to come.
"It is disappointing for so many people for us to be here today," Poile said Wednesday. "Everything seemed to be in place, in my mind. On paper, I believed we had a team that could compete for the Stanley Cup… At the end of the year, we were healthy, we had the pieces in place, so there's no excuses."
Poile acknowledged the fact that the campaign was not a total failure - there are plenty of teams who would love to have two-consecutive division titles to go along with five-straight postseason berths - but as the GM stated, winning the Central is no longer a nice consolation prize.
"Our first-round loss in six games to Dallas, who was the better team, shows that we have some areas that we need to address," Poile said. "We failed to meet our expectations and our fans expectations. This falls into three areas. It starts with me and my management team for identifying, developing and preparing the players. It includes Peter and his coaching staff, and it includes the players for being their best, playing to expectations and being able to rise up in the playoffs."
The loss still fresh, Poile and Laviolette have not yet held internal meetings with players and staff to review the past eight months. Those discussions will begin to take place starting Thursday, and the topics on the agenda include consistency issues, lack of production from individual players and a home record that wasn't as dominant as it has been in year's past.
Then, there is the power play.
Perhaps the point of highest discussion all season long, Nashville's man advantage ranked at the bottom of the League when all was said and done, and it failed to convert in six postseason games.
Laviolette went into great detail on the power play during Wednesday's press conference, ultimately taking the blame for its failures. The bench boss revealed that approximately two-thirds of the way through the season, he made the difficult decision to remove Associate Coach Kevin McCarthy as the overseer of the power play and placed Assistant Coach Dan Muse in charge.
The Predators changed their personnel, their schemes and the way they held internal meetings to discuss the power play. They talked to players, coaches and outside consultants for different views on what was missing. They even looked at some of the top units from around the League to see if they could gather some fresh ideas.
But in the end, the frustration remained.
Video: Poile, Laviolette share thoughts on 2018-19 season
"Ultimately, I'm the one who's responsible," Laviolette said. "I take the blame of things that don't go well on this team. I'm not running from it. Ultimately, everything runs through me. There's not a meeting or a message that doesn't go on inside of this room that's not mine, so it's me and I've got to be better with what I'm doing, because the messaging that I'm sending down throughout the ranks to the coaches, to the players, it didn't work. As we move forward, we try to learn from it. Like David said, there will be meetings, we'll dissect this, we'll look at it and try to do what's best for the team to get the power play back on track.
"Our objective is to be successful in the playoffs, so ultimately it's not good enough."
When the Predators look back on this season months and years from now, it will likely be viewed in two ways. One, it'd be difficult to say that a Central Division title wasn't a success. Conversely, this team is now in a position to not only make the playoffs year after year, but realistically compete for a Stanley Cup.
It's expectations like those that will drive the discussion over the summer, and there is plenty to figure out. After all, Sept. 12, the opening of training camp to the 2019-20 season, isn't all that far off.
And at this time next year, those in charge expect to be talking about their thriving power play heading into the second round.
"My job, and our collective job, is to address and assess everything we do with the goal of making the necessary changes to put us in a position to go further," Poile said. "Having said that, I believe the Predators have the foundation of one of the better teams in the National Hockey League… But, clearly, what we had this season didn't meet our expectations or yours. Our responsibility in the coming days and weeks is to figure out why and have us ready to go in September."