paul nicholson

no respect

In Hockey, Sports on December 25, 2006 at 1:28 pm

The Nashville Predators are a great team.
So why doesn’t anybody know it?

The Nashville Predators are currently ranked 3rd in the league overall, 2nd in the Western conference, 4th in the NHL in wins, 2nd in the Western Conference in goals. That much is easy to see. We are a very good team.

So three things surprise me:

  1. We get little to no media coverage (within Nashville or outside)
  2. We will likely send no one to the All-Star game this year
  3. We have the lowest road attendance draw of any team in the league

1) Media Coverage:
We also don’t get very much press from the main hockey media outlets, or even major sports outlets (ESPN, etc). And honestly, we get very little at home too. Usually the only time i see us mentioned in major hockey articles is when they talk about us being a good franchise to move because our attendance is so low. It used to be horrible i agree. But 1) It is improving rapidly, something many NHL teams cannot say. 2) This year there are 7 teams with worse attendance averages than us. That is still hard to brag about, but i’ve never heard anyone mention moving St Louis or New Jersey, even when they consistently average attendance far lower than ours. Honestly the Scott Nichol incident was probably good just for the publicity. At least people have heard of us now. (The only major piece of press we’ve gotten lately that i could find was this article on Paul Kariya from NHL.com)

Many writers say that we are in a weak division. That we get more easy points against teams like St. Louis, Columbus, and Chicago than other teams do in their divisions. That is true to a degree, but so far this year we actually have a loosing record against Chicago (not something to be proud of). So we are clearly getting those points from other teams across the league.

I will also admit that we still have a few teams (San Jose, Buffalo, Anaheim) that we just do not seem to match-up well against. That too will come.

2) All-Star Selection:
The All-Star issues is an easy one to address, and not that big a deal. We are too well balanced. Buffalo has the same “problem”. Thanks to injuries to top players and the constantly rotating lines of our mad-scientist coach, we don’t have any 50+ point players like some teams do at this point in the season. We have two of the best goalies in the league, and an amazing spread, balanced offense, and decent young defenders with offense prowess of their own. But hey, i’m fine with not sending anyone to the All-Star game. It would be fun, but there less chance for injury and more chance to rest up.

3) Attendance Draw:
This is the most amazing part to me. With everything we have going for us, we are dead last in the NHL in attendance draw. We play against more empty houses across the league this year than any other team.

Why don’t fans in other cities come to see us play? We have a fast-paced, explosive offense, and two top-tier goalies. Four former All-Stars (Kariya, Arnott, Timmonen, Vokoun). And are a great “measuring stick” team for how good your team really is. My only guess is that problem #1 (media coverage) makes this one worse.