paul nicholson

Archive for the ‘Hockey’ Category

Thanks Paul!

In Family, Hockey, Me, Sports on March 10, 2011 at 7:01 pm

I had to make a quick post to say thanks to (and brag about) Paul McCann, the Nashville Predators PA announcer, for doing a huge favor for us.

For those that haven’t seen, our oldest son, Ian, is a huge Predators fan (like his parents, of course). One of his favorite parts of the game is the starting lineups. He cheers loudly through them, and frequently asks us to play intro videos from YouTube when he’s playing. Then a while back we started introducing him like he was a hockey player (I think my parents started it, actually). He loves it and frequently asks for us to do it “a-gin”. Over and over again. (Sometimes he also introduces himself)
See the video below for an example:


So that leads to what Paul McCann did for us.
Read the rest of this entry »

How the Preds could win the Stanley Cup in 2012

In Hockey, Sports on July 19, 2010 at 7:48 pm

An indecent proposal for how the Preds could practically be guaranteed to win the Stanley Cup in 2012.

The recent signing of Ilya Kovalchuk has brought the controversy of GMs “gaming” the current salary cap rules in the NHL. There are a few other bad examples of course – the other prime example being Henrik Zetterberg.

If you aren’t familiar, the current NHL collective bargaining agreement which put in place a salary cap for the league uses the average of all the years of a contract to calculate a player’s “cap hit”, that is, how much they count against the salary cap for the term of their contract. This means a player like, say, David Legwand can have a 5 year contract that pays him 5.0, 4.5, 4.5, 4.0, and 3.5 million in each year – yet counts as $4.5mil every year of the deal when it comes to the cap. So the Preds have to cut him a $5mil check in the first year, but he only counts $4.5 mil against the cap.

(continued after the break) Read the rest of this entry »

Radio Stars

In Christy, Entertainment, Hockey, Me, Nashville, Sports on March 22, 2009 at 7:22 pm

Real quick post here…

A while back the Predators asked a bunch of season ticket holders to come in and participate in recording clips for some new radio ads. They said they would post them online, but i haven’t seen them yet…

Well, i finally caught a few fast enough to record (though only one from start to finish).

Christy and I are featured pretty prominently in a few of them, so i decided to take what clips i’d been able to grab so far, chop them up, and make a version with just Christy and I :-)

Oh, and here’s the one complete original i’ve been able to grab so far for anyone else that wanted to hear the commercials.

Thanksgiving in February for Preds fans

In Hockey, Nashville, Sports on February 9, 2009 at 9:22 pm
This is a long post, but one i would love every Predators fan to check it out.
Please spread the word, and take the time to read it.

Predators fans have been through quite a lot in the last few years. First it was the team being sold, and what looked like an impending move to Canada. Then a fire sale of top talent to the eastern conference (so that Craig Leipold could go buy our competition in the west). Then a lengthy process of first going with other outside ownership, then bringing a local ownership group into the picture and renegotiating a lease with the city to help make the team more profitable.

Then new ownership actually got to take control of the team halfway through the season. During the next off season, they promised to invest in the team and re-sign all our core young players (which they did) and we were ready for a year where we finally might make it out of the first round of the playoffs. Then star offensive weapon Alexander Radulov was persuaded to defect and skip out on his NHL contract to play in the upstart Russian league – the KHL. Not only were some Pred fans disappointed that we weren’t picking up any additional talent, but now the team had lost a major piece of its offense too late in the off-season to find a replacement it could afford. This after losing so much talent to the fire sale, and Steve Sullivan’s back injury.

Top all this off with the constant rumor and speculation (mostly from several papers ‘up north’) that it is only a matter of time before we inevitably lose the Predators to either contraction or, more likely, relocation.

It is pretty easy to see how one could become rather depressed as a hockey fan in Nashville. It is very easy to feel that the individual ticket-buying fans are the only ones that care and are being left out to dangle in the wind.

But a few things to remember:

Media Support: We give the local media a lot of flack around here because we as fans aren’t satisfied with the amount, or at times the quality, of coverage. But as i’ve heard several very knowledgeable people say lately – we have it pretty good compared to many other cities with NHL clubs – even some of the more “traditional markets”.

  • Remember back when “we” held that big rally in July of ’07 – we showed up, but a whole bunch of other people put their time and money into that to organize it as well. 104.5 The Zone dedicated hours and hours of time to talking nothing but hockey (*cough* usually takes them weeks to talk that much hockey *cough*). Someone had to organize and pay for that event at the Sommet Center. We showed up to their party.
  • Hockey and Predator focused shows on two other sports talk radio stations (besides the “flagship” station that has an interest in the Preds success) – HockeyBuzz Radio and hours of pre-game on WNSR 560AM and a few shows here & there on 106.7 The Fan. WNSR in particular has stepped up with a ton of hockey programming lately. Not the best and strongest in the world, but it is there
  • Newspapers across the country are trimming staff right and left. The Dallas Morning News and Fort Worth Star Telegram used to each have writers covering the Dallas Stars. They have now reached an agreement to “share” coverage of the team. Meanwhile in Nashville the little ‘ol Tennessean has not one but TWO writers for the Predators (John Glennon and Jessica Hopp Bliss), while the Nashville City Paper has another writer of its own (. Even the business focused Nashville Post has broken and covered several stories regarding the Preds. Not a day goes by (even non-game days) that there aren’t at least 2-3 Preds stories posted by these various papers. Not every NHL club can say that.

Local Businesses:

  • Local ownership stepped in to buy the team. Yes, they had some funding help from outside, but the majority of the funds put up to buy the team were put up by local business owners. People who weren’t even the biggest hockey fans, but who knew that Nashville didn’t need to lose this team. Yes, they knew the fans were here and that the fans would support the team, but they had to stick their necks out and lay a LOT of money on the line, and they came through.
  • Sponsors and advertisers had to step up too. Craig Leipold and Steve Violetta did all they could to alienate local ownership by treating it as a God-given right to own and operate a professional hockey club in Nashville, rather than treating it like any other business that has to be sold, promoted, and managed. One of the main reasons the club wasn’t making much money is that there weren’t enough sponsors and advertisers bringing in revenue. There isn’t a professional sports team on the planet that can pay all its expenses on gate, merch, and concession revenues alone – even if they sold out every night. Corporate sponsorships and advertising are a key source of revenue.

That last point brings me to what prompted this blog post.

We recently switched the hosting for ghia over to Dolphini Networks. Not only was it a major upgrade to our quality of service, but Dolphini is locally owned & operated and a major sponsor of the Predators. Great for us all around. As a result of switching over, we got to hang out with Dolphini owner Michael Krause at their table in the All Inclusive Zone at a game.

During the 3rd period Michael and I started chatting and he mentioned that he was much like Preds owner David Freeman – not a big hockey fan before the sale of the team, but wanted to support the community so he stepped up as a major corporate sponsor. A bit later I said “thanks” from all of us fans, that we really appreciated what he and others like him had done. I felt it was a unique opportunity to directly tell a major sponsor “thanks” in person for supporting the team I love (rather than just buy Pepsi over some other soda once and a while, or use First Tennessee as my bank).

His response shocked me.

After a few minutes, he came back and thanked me for thanking him. He said in the entire time they had been a major corporate sponsor, not one fan had approached him and thanked him for his support. I’m sure he’s been told “thank you” by the Predators organization itself a million times. And I’m sure there’ve been lots of “You guys sponsor the Preds, right? I love the Preds” conversations. But somehow, none of us had ever bothered to sit down and directly thank the man that is pouring a LOT of money into supporting this team.

And i’m sure he’s not alone. While I can go out of my way to buy one soda over another or fillup at a certain gas station – most of us don’t make web/data hosting decisions, or buy a cars and diamond rings everyday.

So here’s a request to all Predators fans:

Take 3 minutes out of your day and write a quick email to a few of these companies. Everyone just grab a few random ones so we make sure they all get a few notes.

In no particular order (links are to the “contact us” pages)-

…and to show you just how far i’ve gone – i disabled AdBlockPlus on nashvillepredators.com, so i’m back to seeing ads on all Preds pages. Support those that support the Preds.

Barry Trotz: Goalie Killer

In Hockey, Sports on January 11, 2009 at 2:33 pm

With the Preds ship finally righting itself, i don’t want to get too negative, but there’s an issue that is cropping up again that is getting ignored in all the Sully’s-return and 9-goals-in-2-games press and blog coverage: Barry Trotz kills goalies.

In the Preds win against Pittsburgh on Thurs, The Preds gave up 1 goal in the 1st, then gave up a second goal on a fluky bounce when a Preds player tried to clear the puck and it bounced of not one but two of his teammates and went in the net. Was it a goal that could have been avoided – yes – but nothing that goalie Dan Ellis could have done. But what happened next was a bit odd: coach Trotz pulled Ellis in favor of Pekka Rinne. Trotz said in the post-game press conference that he did it to “change our luck” and that he wasn’t unhappy with Ellis’ play. Blogger Brandon Felder asked Ellis about being pulled after the game:

Felder – “Obviously the game wasn’t a great start but it was really bad luck goals. Were you at all frustrated by getting pulled there?”

Dan Ellis – “I think it was stupid. Bottom line. It’s the exact same thing as last year. So yeah I was frustrated. Absolutely. I can’t stop both teams.”

Key words there: “It’s the exact same thing as last year.” What does he mean by that?…

This is something Trotz has done to 3 starting goaltenders in a row. First Vokoun, then Mason, (both pictured at left) and now Ellis – and Danny knows it. At the end of the 06-07 season, Vokoun was frequently pulled in favor of Mason. The team seemed to play better in front of Mason, and it made sense at the time. Vokoun played well, but Mason was deemed ready for prime-time and Vokoun was one of the players lost during Leipold’s march to the sea Minnesota. Then last year (07-08) it was Mason who was frequently pulled and/or benched in favor of the upstart Ellis. The team played well in front of both and Mason was over and over again said to be the #1, but Mason was pulled more and more and Ellis got more and more starts so that by the time the playoffs started, Ellis was the clear #1 for the team. So during the offseason Ellis is signed to a 2-year deal, Mason is traded to St Louis, and Pekka Rinne is brought in to be the backup.

That brings us to this year. Ellis has played well, and while Trotz has shown more restraint when it comes to pulling goalies than in previous years, he has recently started his very bad habit of pulling them to “shake things up” – and not because the goalie is playing poorly.

This messy with goalie’s heads. Dan Ellis knows it. He saw it kill Chris Mason’s game last year, and knows that Trotz is starting down that path again.

Fortunatly i think Ellis is made of a little tougher mental stuff than Chris Mason (as it applies to being a #1 goalie). But Trotz needs to be very careful and do a lot of talking wtih goalie coach Mitch Korn, or he’s going to find himself trading away Ellis, establishing Rinne as the #1, and bringing up yet another young goalie next off-season.

Weber for President

In Hockey, Sports on November 13, 2008 at 9:34 am

Ok, not for President, but for the all-star team.

The NHL All-Star balloting has begun (yes, it seems early to me, too), and this year the NHL is using a new voting system on the web that lets fans (1) Vote as many times as they want and (2) instantly see a running tally of how many votes each player is getting.

But let’s cut to the chase. If you want to vote as i did, (Arnott, Dumont, Erat, Weber, Suter, Ellis for the West – Timmonen, Hartnell, Vokoun for the East) then just click on the button below .

You can check the current standings here.

Random Updates

In Cool Tech, Entertainment, Hockey, Sports on October 2, 2008 at 2:10 pm

Two quick random updates on previous posts:

1) Back in May i posted about Fox Sports’ announcement that they would be increasing their ability to handle HD signals and that in 2009 they would be 100%, 24/7 HD. Of course there was no promise as to when in 2009 they would be 100% HD… Today we got the confirmation that out of the 55 Predators games that will be airing on FSN South (or is it FS South now?), 22 will be in HD. They are pretty widely spaced through the season, and don’t seem to pickup later into 2009…so we’ll see if that improves or how that is connected to this great new HD signal processing center.

2) The KeepOn that i raved about back in September of ’07 (you remember that right?) is finally going on sale…for $30k each. A company (BeatBots) has been formed to sell the cute little interactive robots, and for now they are primarily targeting the technology to research firms and universities. So i guess that goes on my “If i had a million dollars” wish list, not the “General Wishlist“. Check.

As a reminder of how awesome this thing is, here’s its appearance in Spoon’s video for “Don’t you Evah”

Free advice for the Preds marketing department

In Hockey, Nashville, Sports on September 24, 2008 at 7:07 am

I was a marketing minor in college, so clearly, i am an expert to listen to in the area of marketing. With that in mind, here are a few ideas i have that i think could help the much improved effort already underway for the Nashville Predators.

List Game Dates/Times Everywhere
The presence around town of Predators billboards is vastly improved over the last several years. They look better and there are just more of them. Trouble is, they don’t have one very key piece of information – when are the games? Through the summer the drive has been for season tickets, and that makes sense. But trying to sell seasons tickets through most of the year doesn’t make as much sense. After all, people buying season tickets are probably already fans. That’s no who you need to be reaching.
The main push needs to be for individual game sales from casual fans (or people who have never even seen a game). Those people buy tickets more impulsively. They want something to do this weekend. They just remembered a spouse/child’s birthday and need to do something, etc. They can only do that if they know when the games will be. Everyone knows when Titans games are (Sunday is pretty easy to remember) but not everyone has (or thinks to look at) their pocket calendar of Preds games.

I’ve seen the Dallas Mavericks and San Antonio Spurs use this to great effect. Every month they would put a new billboard up listing games that month. It was very easy for fans driving down the highway to see it and think “oh, i could catch a game this weekend” or “hey, there’s a game on my husband’s birthday – i bet he’d like that”. Last year the Preds had a billboard up pushing the Capitals game, which was good, but putting up a month of games lets people plan for more than just one option. (The widespread use of digital billboards around town also makes changing the game listings much easier/cheaper to do) (Here’s an example of one done by Michigan St football)

Tell businesses why it makes sense to partner with the Preds – not “support” them.
I was very happy to hear David Freeman say last year, when he took over as lead owner of the Preds, that he was not asking for anyone’s charity. He didn’t want the Predators to be a charity case and didn’t think or want to say that business “should” support the Predators as part of their civic duty. Unfortunately the Radio “ticket-thon” that 104.5 did last week did exactly that. Operating far outside their comfort zone, George Plaster and crew begged people to support the Predators and “buy tickets to 1 or two games” or “buy a 10 pack…whatever you can afford”. While very well intentioned and very appreciated, the message sent to businesses was the wrong one.

For one brief moment though, someone did say the right thing: When interviewing someone from Vanderbilt Sports Medicine (the new official health care provider of the Predators), the question was asked “why sponsor the Preds”. Among other things in his answer, the Vandy rep said (and i paraphrase) “because they are a great way to reach our target market. There is a lot of overlap between who they draw to games and the customers we want to reach”. BINGO! That message needs to be being said VERY loud and VERY often.

Now, i trust (and hope) that David Freeman and crew, when going out to give presentations to businesses, are saying this and have all sorts of demographic data to back it up. Businesses buying tickets for Preds games just makes sense – from a business point of view. And we aren’t talking about it-helps-keep-the-Preds-in-town-and-if-we-don’t-Nashville-will-look-bad-and-top-talent-won’t-want-to-move-to-Nashville-and-you’ll-have-to-hire-lesser-people. That’s not it. The connections are much more direct.

  1. Advertising with the Predators (in the arena, on TV, and on the radio) is a fantastic way to reach a passionate crowd of typically young, upper- and upper-middle-class people. The associate with teams is a proven way to build fantastic brand loyalty among people who have money to spend and are still building loyalties. There are more numbers out there to back all this up… if i was back in a marketing job i’d go on and on here…
  2. It’s a great way to reward employees and build a good corporate environment. I know of multiple businesses that have used this to great success: Buy a pair of season tickets – good seats – to the Predators. Then give it away to top performers. Maybe its a contest for whoever is the top sales person that week gets the tickets. Maybe employees get the tickets for a month when they have been with the company for X number of years. Whatever it is, people go crazy for what they perceive to be a valuable commodity – regardless of the actual value. Example: Season tickets right next to the governor and his wife (section 112, around the 4th row) cost $156 per game. I know very few commission-based salespeople (which i work with) who will go crazy and bend over backwards for $150 spiff (only interested in the big bucks) – but tickets like this? Very prestigious and they will go nuts for them – working OT, etc. I’ve seen it happen more than once. And of course there are other seats on the suite level that include all you can eat food/drinks packages for about the same money.

Oh – and the Preds have meeting facilities in the arena – so you can get a great group rate on the game and have your quarterly strategy session in the arena (catered) for a great package deal. But so very few people know about these options.

Again, i trust that this conversation is taking place, but it is happening behind closed doors right now. It needs to be shouted from the mountain tops.

Make the ‘value’ packages very clear and well promoted (during poor economic times)
Did you know you can get 4 tickets in the all-you-can-eat zone for $220? That’s 2.5hours of great family entertainment, all the hotdogs, burgers, nachos, peanuts, popcorn, water and soda you can handle for $55 each. Last year’s family fun packs that let a family of 4 go for $100 and included a free hotdog and soda was a fabulous deal too. In hard economic times, you have to emphasize that the games aren’t as expensive as people may think they are. And you’ll have better family bonding time at a game than at a movie (you can actually, ya know, talk to each other).

Side note: Promote the website better. It’s awesome.
Last plug i gotta make here is for the absolutely awesome website. Especially PredsTV. If you haven’t checked out Training Camp Central, its excellent. Reports on all the players and daily write-ups with interviews with coaches and players, etc. There are write-ups and highlight shows posted quickly after every game, and resources for fans all over.

PredTV is by far the highlight though, with videos posted all summer long showing what the players did during the off-season (JP Dumont’s kids are pretty cute), how prospect camp went, and more…




Every press conference the team does is available online as well:

Best way to stay caught up with what is on the website: add the following feeds to your feed reader (or to your MyYahoo or iGoogle page):
Predators News
New PredsTV Videos

Fantasy Hockey Time!

In Friends, Hockey, Sports on September 22, 2008 at 7:54 am

I’ll try to do a big breakdown and talk smack later, but for now wanted to post a brief analysis of my fantasy hockey league for this year.
This is the sums/averages of all stats for each category.

Blue = Best in league
Red = Worst in league
Bold = Above the league average

Run down of the managers this year:

303 4 Life – Bradley S (co-worker and fellow Cell block 303er)
PredFans – Paul Nicholson (yours truly)
Barrys Bolts or Bust – George Scoville, aka stackiii (hockey blogger/forum guy)
Becker’s Wreckers – Joel, aka Introverted One (friend/blogger)
Fantasy Hockey Guru – Kevin Hicks (co-worker & sports nut)
Ice Holes – Paul McCann (Preds PA annoucner & Hockeybuzz blogger)
Nolensville Knights – Dirk Hoag, aka The Forechecker (Kuklas Korner blogger)
Old School Blues – Gary Nicholson (my dad)
Pond Hockey Rulez – Michael Nick (co-worker)
Puckhounds – Joshua Frizzell (co-worker)
RebelMandos – Kevin Peters (random friend)
Tallahassee Warthogs – Andy B (fellow Cell Block 303er)
The Felder Flu – Brandon Felder (Hockeybuzz blogger)
The Knack – Ken Knack (co-worker)

Preds Fan Meet-Up

In Blog Stuff, Hockey, Nashville, Sports on September 14, 2008 at 7:35 pm
Predators Fans: Come one, come all!

Well, actually, let me be more specific…

There’s a pretty nice community of people from blogs, Flickr, Twitter, etc around “Pred Nation”. So, i’d like to see as many of us get together to actually meet the 3D versions of each other.

Where: Predators Training Camp – Centennial Sportsplex
When: Sat, Sept 20th 10:30am

We will meet in between the first and second training camp sessions (around 10:30am) at the tables in the front lobby of the Sportsplex building (near the front doors). I’ll be wearing a light blue work shirt that says “Geek” on the front and carrying around a camera. If you can’t find us, call 615-823-1734, that’ll ring my cell. Or you can DM me on Twitter @pwnicholson.

Now for the roll call (and link love) of the people i’d really love to see there. I’m sure i’m going to leave a few people off the list, but if you want to show, please do! You don’t have to be listed!

For full details on Predators Training Camp, check out “Training Camp Central

See ya there!

Vegas on Preds

In Hockey, Sports on September 10, 2008 at 11:07 am

Vegas has spoken and have ranked the Predators the 18th most likely team to win the Stanley Cup this year out of the 30 team league. 30/1 odds.

Of course, the Red Wings are roughly 7.5 times more likely to win the Cup than the Preds, but the good news is that they are effectively picking us to make the playoffs (we’re in a 3 way tie for 7-9th most-likely-to-win in the West) and again finish second in the division.

I find it very interesting that they have given the Preds better odds than Chicago and Tampa Bay, both of which did some major retooling in the offseason and i personally would have to handicap at least at the Predators level, especially Chicago. I’m also a little surprised to be put at parity with Calgary, which to me looked to have a strong off-season and looks loaded to at least make a lot of noise this season.

Probably the most surprising to me about this list is that the East is given much better odds overall (though of course no one approaches the Wings odds). 10 of the top 16 odds are given to teams from the East. I just really find it odd that they would give Carolina odds that good, or teams like Calgary odds that low. On a team-by-team basis nothing seems too far off, but most of the talk i hear is that the West is deeper and stronger than the East (though the gap is closing), but this chart doesn’t appear to support that theory.

We shall see…


Team Odds
1 Detroit Red Wings 4/1
2 Pittsburgh Penguins 11/2
3 San Jose Sharks 10/1
4 Montreal Canadiens 10/1
5 Dallas Stars 12/1
6 Anaheim Ducks 12/1
7 New York Rangers 15/1
8 Ottawa Senators 15/1
9 Philadelphia Flyers 15/1
10 Washington Capitals 18/1
11 New Jersey Devils 20/1
12 Carolina Hurricanes 22/1
13 Minnesota Wild 22/1
14 Colorado Avalanche 25/1
15 Boston Bruins 30/1
16 Buffalo Sabres 30/1
17 Calgary Flames 30/1
18 Nashville Predators 30/1
19 Vancouver Canucks 30/1
20 Chicago Blackhawks 35/1
21 Toronto Maple Leafs 40/1
22 Tampa Bay Lightning 45/1
23 Edmonton Oilers 50/1
24 Florida Panthers 50/1
25 Atlanta Thrashers 60/1
26 St. Louis Blues 60/1
27 New York Islanders 75/1
28 Phoenix Coyotes 75/1
29 Columbus Blue Jackets 75/1
30 Los Angeles Kings 100/1

Preds May Need To Tank

In Hockey, Sports on September 8, 2008 at 12:35 pm

I looks like everyone else is chiming in with what they think the Predators should do with the open roster spots, so i figured it was time for me to cast my vote.

The discussions center around whether the Preds should sign a big name free-agent (Sundin), mid-level veteran talent (Parrish), or just go with the prospects we have in our system (Hornqvist, Jones, etc).

Moy vote: I think the Preds should go with the young talent. Don’t spend a dime more than you have to on the roster this year. Invest the money in the marketing, hype these youngsters and most importantly, pick a personality on a long contract to build the fans around (Dumont, Weber, or Erat seem logical).

Some are saying the team can’t afford to take a year off – that from the financial and fan-base building point of view we can’t afford to go a year without making the playoffs and being competitive. But i think history proves that wrong. The Preds best attended season was 2001, when the team was well below .500, and wouldn’t see the playoffs for years to come. Likewise the Blackhawks and Capitals have proved that a well marketed, unbalanced team with just a few talented players can draw crowds and attention, win or lose.

As much as i am a Preds fan and want few things more than seeing Lord Stanley’s cup hoisted at the Sommet Center, the one thing i might want more is the promise the the team will be here for my kids to enjoy in 10-15-20 years. What do we need to ensure that? A profitable team and butts in the seats.

News flash: Crowds don’t follow wins. They follow stars, excitement, and only then, yes…playoffs and championships. Over and over again teams in the NBA and NHL have proved that stars and hype fill arenas and sell TV ads. Period. If those stars make it to the playoffs, so much the better.

So i think the Preds options are one of two things*: Either do another roster purge and sign Mats Sundin or trade for Evgeni Malkin, or stay low with the roster we have and do the best we can to hype the young talent – and don’t worry about our record. Win where we can, but by the half-way point if we aren’t in the playoff hunt – tank. Go for the draft spots and go for broke next year.

Balanced, above average players great for fantasy rosters and winning hockey games, but they don’t sell tickets. We need hype, we need tickets, and we need them this year and next.

*Obviously i don’t think the Preds are going to go with either of these routes exactly, and I’m not sure if i was Davids Freeman & Poile that i would have the guts to actually do either option – but if i was a high-priced consultant brought in to give my completly uneducated opinion, this is what i’d say.

Update-
To put this more clearly (thank you JC for helping me get to this point of clarity in my argument):
For this team right now, $1mil spent in advertising gets them a decent bump in attendance. $1mil spent on the salary gets them…? At best another point or two in the standings? This team isn’t going to be significantly better and their playoff chances will not improve that much with ANY player they could sign (even with $10mil a year for Sundin). So don’t bother. The team as it is right now will be competative and entertaining enough.

Take a “building year” on the ice to develop young talent that has been stuck in Milwalkee and Europe for too long, while pumping big dollars into marketing. Then next year, with your nice, shiny high draft pick thanks to a bad record, you’ll have a marketable star (who cares if they are really game-changing, Stamkos is selling tickets in Tampa Bay and he’s yet to step on the ice for them) at rookie-discount pricing who you can hype the snot out of.

The Preds have had teams in the past that were successful on the ice but didn’t have any mega-stars that were well marketed. They went strong into the playoffs, then fizzled – and never drew huge crowds until the very end of the season and playoffs, which is something Nashville has always done. What they need is someone that a marketing effort can use to get people into the seats while football season is in full swing. Invest in marketing and hope for a great draft pick.

Oh – and i don’t care if he’s horrible – get Blake Geoffrion playing at the NHL level as soon as possible. Local boy makes good is a great story for the news.

Predators 08-09 Roster Finalized

In Games, Hockey, Nashville, Sports on August 16, 2008 at 2:28 pm
(Warning: This article is full of sarcasm)

The Predators roster is still anyone’s guess. Personally, i take David Poile at his word that, right or wrong, they will plan on relying on prospects to come up and fill vital roster spots at the forward position (to be more specific, i think they’ll at least wait until camp and then make a free agent signing or trade based on what we need). Others like The Forechecker think (or at least hope) that the Preds will make another move before camp begins.

But of course all that is just talk. Those amazing hockey insiders at EA Sports have apparently used CIA level spying techniques (or maybe a time machine) to give us info that others can only speculate on.

Ladies and gentlemen, here is your NHL 09 Nashville Predators roster:

Forwards:
Jason Arnott, Radek Bonk, Jean-Pierre Dumont, Martin Erat, Vernon Fiddler, Martin Gelinas, Jan Hlavac, David Legwand, Scott Nichol, Jed Ortmeyer, Jerred Smithson, Steve Sullivan, Jordin Tootoo

Defensemen:
Greg de Vries, Dan Hamhuis, Ryan Suter, Shea Weber, Greg Zanon, Cody Franson

Goalies:
Dan Ellis, Pekka Rinne

So what can we glean from this?

  • Alexander Radulov, though under contract with the Predators, isn’t going to be in the NHL this year (he isn’t listed as a free agent either – just not in the game). He has been erased from existence (cue ‘Back to the Future’ clip here)
  • The Predators may lose Radulov, but will somehow talk Jan Hlavac out of signing with a Swedish Elite team and into coming back to Nashville. Wise move.
  • Steve Sullivan will be back on the ice, though skating a bit slower (or at least taking up a roster spot).
  • The Predators will resign the ageless Martin Gelinas despite all outward indications to the contrary. This is best explained by his ability to get a little press coverage every time the anniversary of the Great Gretzky Trade rolls around.
  • Despite going through all the hassle of arbitration and subsequent signing of Ville Koistinen to a new one year, one-way contract, the Predators will apparently buy him out with no trade in return and instead opt to go with minor leaguer Cody Franson. They will therefore have absolutely no offensively focused defensemen on the roster, which makes sense of course, given the obvious glut of scoring power at the forward position.

Wow. Just a heads up, if you try to play with this Predators roster, you’re gonna be in a world of hurt (not to mention have little resemblance to the team that will actually take the ice this year). I know the Predators won’t be favorites to win the cup, but at least we can take solace in the fact that we probably won’t be this bad. I hope…

Other notes of interest:

  • Greg Zanon (Mr Body Sacrifice to you) is still listed as the 15th best shot blocker on the Predators (yes, Jordin Tootoo, Jed Ortmeyer and Jason Arnott are clearly the team leaders in this category).
  • David Legwand is rated as the 6th fastest player in the NHL. That’s right folks, Steve Sullivan only looks faster because of his size apparently.
  • Martin Gelinas can also make his 38 year old knee, fresh from injury and surgery, propel him to the 3rd fastest spot on the roster.
  • Jordin Tootoo is the 7th toughest player in the league (hey Dallas, i though he was supposed to be a whiner?)
  • Overall Legwand is apparently our superstar in hiding. He is in the top three on the team in Speed, Acceleration, Deking, Agility, Offensive Awareness, Puck Control, Deflections…and probably a few more categories. Jason Arnott is really good too.

For the full Preds roster with all stats in fully sortable Google Spreadsheet format, check here.

As for the game itself, my big complaint last year was that few of the Predators players looked anything like themselves. Well, this year things aren’t looking much better, though it’s hard to say for sure. The NHL 09 website screenshot section features not a single picture with any Predators featured. The videos i have watched so far only had a single brief glimpse of Ryan Suter with his back turned to the camera. The only picture of a Preds player’s face from the game that i can find is on this IGN page (picture at right). I can’t tell for sure, but i can only assume from the “A” on the jersey that ends in the number 1 that it is either supposed to be Dumont or perhaps Legwand. Too bad it looks absolutely nothing like either of them. Meanwhile Paul Kariya, Vinny LeCavelie, Sindey Crosby, etc all look like themselves…at least a little. It looks like once again the Preds will be staffed by the generic-faced masses.

National TV Coverage

That lack of respect and consideration does fit nicely with the new TV schedule though. The NHL released the National TV schedule a few days ago (the FSN local TV schedule has yet to be released) and the Predators are all but absent. Out of 196 games scheduled to be televised on TSN, NBC, Versus, and Hockey Night In Canada – exactly 4 of them will feature the Nashville Predators. Now, i understand that the league wants to promote the Penguins and the Red Wings are always a huge draw, etc… and HNIC and TSN will naturally gravitate towards games with Canadian teams, but those teams have to play someone, right?

I guess we can’t complain too much…the Panthers, Coyotes, and Hurricanes are all on TV only 4 times (along with the Preds), while the Ducks and Kings are only on 3 times ,and the lowly Columbus Bluejackets are only featured on national TV 2 times out of 196 games. With no exposure at the national level, is it any wonder why these franchises are struggling? I know it’s a chicken-or-the-egg kinda problem, but this TV scheduling doesn’t help them out any.

Preds owner speaks out on Ownership/Radulov

In Hockey, Nashville, Sports on July 14, 2008 at 8:11 pm

This afternoon, Predators lead owner David Freeman went on 104.5 The Zone with host George Plaster to answer questions about the latest on the Del Biaggio ownership mess, and even touched on the Radulov issue briefly.

Many thanks to 104.5 for having Freeman on, and i hope they don’t mind me posting this. I guess i’ll hear from them if they do :-)

(Sorry for the minor quality issues. I recorded this from my portable Sansa while riding on the bus, so you can tell when we went under bridges, etc.)

I made two versions. The first is the 12-minute “the good stuff” version (I tried to cross-fade it to make it obvious where i made cuts). The second is the full version, with only commercials cut.

Soundbite/highlights:

In regard to Del Biaggio and Warren Woo:

“In some ways we’re disappointed, in some ways we didn’t have real high expectations of ‘em”

In regard to the presentation Del Biaggio and Woo put together for potential investors:

“What’s disappointing about the documents is how they misrepresented the financial condition of our club”

“They were trying to raise money…so, they took a few liberties with the truth and oversold their position”

In regard to the Predators:

“In an absolute worst case scenario, its just exactly the same as the deal we had when we went into this and the club isn’t going anywhere.”

“Boots and Warren didn’t have any obligation to put any more money in the team. In fact we gave them a special deal that we would never ask them to put more money into the team”

On the Radulov issue:

“David Poile and I have a little side deal going. I take care of the situation out on the west coast and he takes care of the situation over in Russia.”

“I think we will all stand back and let the NHL handle this one. This is obviously a much bigger issue than the Nashville Predators, and I think we’ll all be pleased with how it plays out.”

On the team’s future in Nashville (attendance issues, etc):

“Honestly, we just don’t think about it in terms of ‘we have to do this or else’. We’ve made this commitment, and as crazy as it sounds sometimes in life you just do things and you don’t think about the down side or listen to the negative. Sure, I guess there is a scenario where if no one ever showed up for a hockey game that it wouldn’t turn out right…The same way the Titans have an unflinching belief that they’re gonna sell tickets to Titans football games, we feel the same way about Predators hockey. We feel like this franchise and the city are on the way up and its a total waste of time for me to talk about what-if scenarios…It’s important to us, but there is no doubt in our mind we’re gonna make [the attendance requirement for revenue sharing]. If for some reason we didn’t make it one year, its not the end of the world. It probably goes back to conversation of how much you have to spend on this or that, but again we think we’re headed in the right direction”

The Question Not Being Asked

In Hockey, Sports on July 14, 2008 at 12:41 pm

Much has been made about the Tennessean article from Sunday which detailed Boots Del Biaggio’s plans for the Predators. Much of the media is talking about how its clear that there was (is?) a plan to move the Predators out of Nashville. Forechecker highlighted that Boots was pointing to expected expansion revenues in the coming years.

But here’s the thing people: This wasn’t created in a void. This PowerPoint deck that was somehow acquired by a Tennessean reporter (Kudos by the way, for the rare bit of good investigative reporting) was made by Del Biaggio specifically to present to possible investors in his NHL ventures. It was designed to make it look like he would soon be able to take control of the Predators, and that they would have a guaranteed revenue boost in a few years.

Del Biaggio made a living LYING to investors. That’s what he did. He (apparently) went through he process of forging bank documents to show that funds were his that never were in order to secure loans. Do you seriously think that stretching figures and facts on a PowerPoint presentation is beyond this guy?

I’m not saying the Predators will be up with the Leafs in revenues this year. I know the franchise has a tough fight ahead. But i am very surprised that no one is questioning the information. I don’t blame the Tennessean reporting, but cummon people. Consider the source of the stories source.

Who says baseball should be the only sport with matinee games?

In Hockey, Sports on July 9, 2008 at 10:19 am

The Predators just released their pre-season schedule. I’m happy to see us continue the relationship with the Atlanta Thrashers and i hope we get to play them more often in the regular season as well. It’s an obvious friendly-rivalry that would benefit both teams.

Most interesting here are the new rookie games – and one at 11:00am!

My guess is that these are in place of a few scrimmages that would normally happen during camp. No details yet on who will play in the games, but i think it is a safe bet to say the first 2-3 lines of the Predators won’t be there. I doubt if they literally only play based on NHL experience an ‘rookie’ qualifications. The normal pre-season games are at or near full price for tickets. I’ll be curious if the rookie games are open for free to the public, discounted, or something else (especially that mid-morning game). Could be very cool.

NASHVILLE PREDATORS 2008 PRESEASON SCHEDULE
Date Opponent Site Time (CDT)
Mon., Sept. 22 Atlanta Thrashers (R) Sommet Center 6:00 PM
Tue., Sept. 23 Atlanta Thrashers (R) Sommet Center 11:00 AM
Thu., Sept. 25 Atlanta Thrashers Sommet Center 7:00 PM
Fri., Sept. 26 at Columbus Blue Jackets Nationwide Arena 6:00 PM
Sat., Sept. 27 Columbus Blue Jackets Sommet Center 7:00 PM
Thu., Oct. 2 Carolina Hurricanes Sommet Center 7:00 PM
Fri., Oct. 3 at Atlanta Thrashers Philips Arena 6:30 PM
Sun., Oct. 5 at Carolina Hurricanes RBC Center TBA

Hockey Nationalism

In History/Politics, Hockey, Sports on June 24, 2008 at 4:27 am

I wanted to take a minute to post as an entry here, some comments that i made on two other sites recently.

The discussion was started by this post at Two For Elbowing that i first saw linked to from this Puck Daddy entry. The quote that started the discussion was this:

“What, exactly, does this say about the relative power balance of Canada and the U.S. when the Leafs have to hire Americans to fix the franchise?”

So I give you the ensuing discussion:

I think more to the point, what do statements like that say about racism (or more specifically nationalism) in hockey. I’ve never heard any other pro sport outside of nationalist soccer/futbol squads be so hung up on where their coaches and players come from, and the problems with racism going on in soccer leagues around the world is a massive problem right now. I’d hate to see hockey be next.

Who care if a Canadian is coaching a US team or a US coach or GM is working for a Canadian franchise. The only other time i’ve heard nationalities discussed in other sports is during the Olympics/world championships when they have their flags on their uniforms.

If they are wearing a Leafs sweater or a Sharks sweater – it shouldn’t matter. They are just pros doing their jobs. Argue about them on their merits, not where they come from.

That comment brought this response: “Paul- tell that to the people of Quebec.” – to which i responded:

I definitely hear the most consistent nationalist/racist comments from Quebecers, but it is much, much wider than that. As a resident of Nashville and fan of the Predators, I/we have seen no small measure of this.

It is ironic really.

When i moved here, i thought that southerners in Nashville more were racist than average. I found the opposite though – not that there aren’t people with issues, but on the whole the city is very accepting of Eastern Europeans, Canadians, Scandinavians, etc on the Predators and African American players on the Titans, and Hispanic players on the Nashville Sounds baseball team. Without question they are judged on their playing ability 99% of the time and comments are practically never made as to where they are from. We just don’t care as long as they can play.

Meanwhile i hear things like this, where a lifelong hockey man in Ron Wilson and others are criticized for having the audacity to think they ‘deserve’ to coach on Canadian soil. You can think he is the right coach for Toronto or not, that he can handle the media pressure or not, that he will help the team or not… but that he should be allowed to coach based on his nationality?

That same post goes on to say “The mind boggles. I’m amazed the Canadian-centric media types haven’t been screaming at the government to outlaw this already.” meaning the hiring of coaches and GM’s from the US.

I know they are dipping into sarcasm there, but seriously…I’m not sure what the situation is in Canada, but this level of discrimination is outlawed in the US. In fact the NFL requires that minority options are considered before hiring coaches.

It boggles the mind indeed. When will hockey implement something similar?

Which then received this response

Paul, I agree with you on judging an individual purely on their performances and their ability to get the job done, and not where they are from. However, with some rare exceptions, I think most Canadians are not prejudice against players/coaches/gms from other countries, but rather, proud of the ones from their country.

I don’t think comparing Canada’s love of hockey and their pride in their country’s rich and honored history in that sport, to something as ugly as racism, is a fair statement.

Comparing it to African American players on the Titans or Hispanic players on the Sounds, and saying it doesn’t measure up is like comparing apples to oranges. One has zero to do with the other. There are African American players on Canadian hockey teams; there are American players; there are players from countries all over the world who are not only on Canadian teams, but are worshiped by many Canadian fans.

I believe, a fairer comparison, using your Nashville as an example, would be to say that many people from Nashville are proud of their city’s rich and honored history in country music. And some outspoken voices may say that the best country singers are from Nashville, and a country singer from Calgary, Canada or Tokyo, Japan should not be the headliner at the CMA Music Festival. But a few outspoken does not mean I should assume all everyone from Nashville agrees with these statements. Or that everyone from Nashville only likes Nashville country singers. Or even the bigger leap that you suggest above, that in fact they dislike every country singer outside of Nashville.

Again, with some rare exceptions, most Canadian hockey fans love the sport first, and are simply very proud of their country’s rich history in that sport. And while some over zealous, proud fans, may come across pro Canadian at times, this 1) does not speak for all Canadian hockey fans; and 2) is a far cry from racism, IMHO. Hometown pride and racism are worlds apart! –buffettworld

Which then led me to respond:

Well put. And i do understand that.

I just hear more comments like this from hockey than any other sport. I understand a certain amount of pride…heck…i’m originally from Texas. I know pride (and its excess…)

But comments like the one quoted on this blog and many others i hear around seem to me to cross the line. They aren’t just pride (“Isn’t it great that the world is playing ‘our’ game” or “we have the best hockey players in the world”) but more bigoted (“all top hockey teams, players, and coaches should really be Canadian”)

There certainly are voices out there saying that the CMA’s should always be held in Nashville (much ruckus was made when they tried it in New York a few years ago), but i’ve only heard a very small, quickly ignored minority complain about country music being popular in western Canada or Australia. Most love the fact that the additional eyes and attention mean more fans and a bigger/better product.

To carry that analogy through, no one would suggest moving the hockey hall of fame to Tampa. But by the same token that i don’t hear anyone suggest that they should ban people from outside the south eastern US from country music.

I guess that is the biggest difference to me: who i’m hearing it from. I hear these criticisms and bigoted comments about the nationality of players from main-stream Canadian press, not just a few random bloggers and comment trolls.

Best example i can think of:
Lidstrom being the first European captain to win a cup. It was a big deal, and was covered by the press. Very similar to Tony Dungee being the first African American coach to win the Super Bowl a few years back. The difference was that no major sports outlet or even serious radio talk show host would have stood up and said “a black coach has never won the Super Bowl so our team shouldn’t hire a black coach”. Meanwhile i’ve heard from major hockey writers and talking heads repeatedly (up until last week) that teams shouldn’t make Europeans their captains, citing “lack of heart” and other ludicrous reasons to explain how they shouldn’t captain teams.

Is it horrible? No.
Is it everyone? Not by any means.

But is it more pervasive in hockey than other North American sports and something that should be addressed and talked about? Yes.

What do you think?

(image courtesy of Lone Primate)

Predators Roster Filling Up: What’s the next move?

In Hockey, Sports on June 23, 2008 at 10:39 am

With the newly announced signing of Shea Weber (picture right) following quickly behind the signing of Dan Ellis, Ryan Suter, Martin Erat, David Legwand, Jordin Tootoo, etc, etc… Predators GM David Poile has made good on his promise to sign all of the team’s restricted free agents and key personell. The trade of Chris Mason to St Louis also cleared up some salary.

But there is still a bit of a log jam. Taking the numbers from NHLSCAP.com, this appears to be our situation (adding in the Suter, Weber, and Ellis deals that aren’t updated yet).

TOTAL COMMITTED SALARY CAP NUMBER:
$45,791,087

(Note: NHL Salary Cap is about $53mil, but the Predators are not expected to spend near the cap limit)

PLAYER POS 08-09 Salary Cap Number
ARNOTT, JASON F 4,500,000
LEGWAND, DAVID F 4,500,000
BONK, RADEK F 1,475,000
FIDDLER, VERNON F 850,000
NICHOL, SCOTT F 750,000
SMITHSON, JERRED F 500,000
DUMONT, JEAN-PIERRE F 4,000,000
ERAT, MARTIN F 4,500,000
ORTMEYER, JED F 750,000
TOOTOO, JORDIN F 975,000
RADULOV, ALEXANDER F 918,587
ZIDLICKY, MAREK D 3,350,000
DE VRIES, GREG D 2,500,000
HAMHUIS, DAN D 2,000,000
SUTER, RYAN D 3,500,000
ZANON, GREG D 725,000
WEBER, SHEA D 4,500,000
ELLIS, DAN G 1,750,000
RINNE, PEKKA G 547,500
SULLIVAN, STEVE F – IR 3,200,000

Noteable free agents & AHL Players
PEVERLEY, RICH C RFA
GELINAS, MARTIN L UFA
HLAVAC, JAN L UFA
PIHLSTROM, ANTTI L 567,500
HORNQVIST, PATRIC R 713,333
KLEIN, KEVIN D RFA*
KOISTINEN, VILLE D RFA*

Our salary is already meeting David Freeman’s promise of being the largest in franchise history at over $45mil. A roster full of talent, and as important as anything – we didn’t lose anyone we wanted to keep.

This roster presents a few problems though.

FORWARD
Without even getting into the mess of having no true left wings (not counting Steve Sullivan) and few real natural centers, the team has 11 forwards under contract. Not a lot of room to add/drop, but still a couple of spots to have guys fight over. From last year’s roster we have Martin Gelinas and Jan Hlavac as options. Of course we could also go after a free agent on the market… or dip into the substantial talent we have in the minors. From all accounts Patric Horvqvist and Antti Pihlstrom (pictured at right) are ready for prime time, and Rich Peverly has been up with the big club multiple times in the last two years.

Personally, my vote would be to pull up at least one of those guys – get them working in the NHL. You have the luxury of having two to pick from so if one isn’t working out with an extended stay in Nashville you can swap them.

DEFENSE
Similar problem on defense. Six defensemen locked up, but good talent sitting in the free agent/minor league pool. DeVries is overpaid and Zanon wasn’t great down the stretch but is still a bargain on his entry contract.

Personally, i think Ville Koistinen (pictured right) is responsible for making Zilicky worth keeping, and thus a must-have himself. Those two played great together when paired, especially on the power play. Klein i think is more valuable as a trade asset than on the ice right now. There are others deeper on the depth chart, but room needs to be made in front of them for any of them to see a shot at big league ice time this year.

GOALIE
Not much to say here. Set. Ready. Locked and loaded.

Ellis should be strong, though his one weakness will be his health issues. If the coaches try to push him through 65+ games next year i don’t think he’ll hold up. He had trouble keeping on the weight and only played 44 games last year (at times dropping 10+lbs every time he went on the ice). Rinne has been the ‘goalie of the future’ for a while, so this will be a great chance for him to get a lot of play time without having to carry the franchise on his still-young (but very sizable) shoulders.


So yes, we’re in great shape. We have needs (strong, scoring forward) but are in good position with prospects and assets to spare.

What are your thoughts? Do you want the Predators to trade for a big name? Bring up Horvqvist or Pihlstrom? Should they resign Koistinen or Klein?

Good story so far… and next season should be one heck of a ride.

Big Move! Preds Sign Ellis, Trade Mason!

In Hockey, Sports on June 20, 2008 at 7:17 am

On the eve of the draft, the Preds just traded Chris Mason to the St Louis Blues and signed Dan Ellis. (Tennessean article here).

You have to assume that this means they expect Ellis to be the clear #1 goalie, with Pekka Rinne being the frequent backup, given Ellis’ health problems last year (couldn’t keep any weight on). Mason will logically be Manny Legace’s backup give the year he had last season.

No details on contract length or amount (just that it is “multi-year”) for Ellis, but i have to assume that they are saving money here – certainly over what keeping Mason and Ellis both would have cost.

The Tennessean is reporting that it is a 2-year, $3.5 million deal ($1.5mil first year, $2mil second year – avg of $1.75mil per year for the cap hit). This means a little more budget cleared for signing Weber and hopefully another trade for a nice skilled forward or two to boot. Great opportunity for Ellis to prove that last year wasn’t a fluke and the Preds don’t have to overpay for goaltending.

If i would have guessed they would pull a trade to keep Ellis, i would have thought it would be to trade Rinne – i never dreamed they’d be able to unload Mason, though just a single 4th round pick in this years draft shows his value is far less than the contract. They found someone willing to have a very very high level backup and overpay them. Kudos to Poile.

I also just have to say it is with some sadness that i watch Mason walk away from Nashville. He supported the Preds staying in Nashville as much or more than any other player (certainly was more vocal) and the city owes him for that. See ya Mase. You will be missed. Best of luck in St Louis (unless you’re playing the Preds of course)

Behind the Predators closed doors?

In History/Politics, Hockey, Nashville, Sports on June 11, 2008 at 2:39 pm

[If you haven't stayed up on the lawsuits that Preds minority owner Boots Del Biaggio is going through, read here, here, and maybe some other places...]

We may be about to receive a major peek at the negotiating that went on when the Predators and the Metro Sports Council negotiated the new lease terms as well as the details and deals worked out among the ownership group.

Metro/Davidson County (specifically the Sports Authority and Jon Cooper) have been served with a subpoena for documents related to William “Boots” Del Biaggio’s new bankruptcy and lawsuit trouble.

The interesting part is that the subpoena actually calls for:

All communications, including documents transmitted, to or from William J Del Biaggio, II, any of his agents, employees, persons working on his behalf or for his benefit, or any group, partnership, or organization that includes Mr. Del Biaggio or in which he has an interest, concerning any negotiations or transactions involving the purchase or sale of the Nashville Predators or any interest therein.

Yikes. They have about a week to get all of this together.

The way that sounds to me, all documents the Sports Authority has discussing anything with the Predators will likely be involved, given that it must include any “organization or partnership” that Del Biaggio was a part of. I seriously wonder if the Preds ownership group itself will be getting a subpoena next. Might depend on what they get from the Sports Authority i guess.

I don’t think the ownership group or the city purposely did anything illegal or even shady, but i think we may be about to get a fairly unprecedented look at the negotiating process and exactly how the financial situation between all parties was setup.

I’m thinking we should stay tuned for more…

UPDATE:
The AP is reporting that Metro will “hold off” on taking “action” action against the Predators organization. Apparently Larry Thrailkill, a Brentwood based attorney (who was once President of the San Francisco 49ers) advised the Metro Sports Authority that Del Biaggio was in default of his agreement with the city. Exactly how he’s in default, and how that impacts the Predators isn’t stated in the article, though it did state the the Sports Authority has promised to let the Preds “fix the situation”, whatever that means.

This is a little surprising to me since we’ve heard multiple times from ownership and the Sports Authority that this shouldn’t affect operations since they have already cashed Del Biaggio’s check and his bankruptcy wouldn’t affect the Preds. Only thing i can think is if the contract had a clause regarding criminal activity (he is being sued and investigated for fraud at the federal level).

The article also states that Preds lead owner David Freeman told the Authority that they were as surprised as everyone else at Del Biaggio’s duplicity. (See Freeman’s full address to the Sports Authority here)

Almost as interesting, the article also notes that the Predators themselves were apparently served with a similar subpoena to the one the Sports Authority received.

Stay tuned indeed…


In related news, since i haven’t actually posted on the subject myself, i’ll chime in something that i commented in a few places: I think this is great for the team. The one concern myself and several other fans had was that Del Biaggio was just here waiting in the wings. Playing his role as a “good guy” and giving the Preds a chance, but was ready and waiting to buy out the team and move them to Kansas City, where he had a standing agreement with AEG to operate a hockey team in the Sprint Center. Or he could also have just been buying brownie points with the league to get his own expansion team later (something Jim Balsilie would be wise to learn if he wants in the owner’s club).

But now of course, we don’t have to worry about either of those possibilities (as Rob pointed out a few days ago). He isn’t taking the team to Kansas City, and Jerry Bruckheimer wants an expansion team in Las Vegas and hasn’t made any moves toward wanting to buy out any other teams. Which pretty much makes Balsillie the only shark circling in the water for the Preds, and we all know that Gary Bettman would have to resign as commish for that to happen.

Question: Boots Del Biaggio is clearly an idiot. How on earth did this guy expect to buy a hockey franchise out-right and move it to Kansas City if he’s this broke? It’s not like he would make money on the team here or there anyway. Someone this broke lying to get loans to buy something that isn’t going to make him money…?! Dude. At least lie your way into something that will make you money next time.

I’m on Google News!

In Cool Tech, Hockey, Me on May 21, 2008 at 11:51 am

For those that don’t know, Google News pulls stories from major news sites, but also pulls stories from blogs as long as they are authored by more than one person (like say, ghia’s blog).

There are also a number of sites such as Bleacher Report and BallHype that aggregate sports blog stories and republish them together. The practical upshot is that post that a person makes on an individual blog now show up like they are posted to sites authored by many people, so Google News will search them.

You can also setup Google News to search for certain terms and display those results for you next to the pre-set categories (such as Sports, World News, etc). I have it setup to search for Nashville Predators news and guess what just showed up…


Look familiar?

Not that big a deal, i know. But i just think its cool that something i wrote would come up on Google news :-)

All Predators games in HD "soon"

In Cool Tech, Entertainment, Hockey, Sports on May 19, 2008 at 10:48 am

Good news Preds fans – more HD is on the way!

I had the “HD will do more for hockey than any other sport” discussion again last week. Between the ability to see the puck (sans glowing) and the ability to see more of the play developing on the ice (much of hockey actually happens away from the puck), the benefits of getting as much hockey in HD as possible are evident.

Last year, we Preds fans groused about not having more games in HD repeatedly. Center Ice didn’t show the games in HD (even if they were available) and Fox Sports Net: South, which carried most games locally) only provided a relative few games in HD. The worst came in the playoffs, where Preds fans only got one game (on NBC) out of 6 in HD. Out of 94 Predators games played in the 07-08 season, only 23 were available in HD in Nashville (1 NBC, 1 Versus, 21 FSN-S).

We were told that most of the games weren’t available in HD because there was 1) a limited number HD production trucks at FSN’s disposal and 2) a limited amount of bandwidth and signal processing ability to simply handle that many HD feeds.

So, back to the “good news”: FSN just announced that they will soon be opening a new signal processing facility in Houston that will allow them to “handle up to 40 live [HD] games per day”. More importantly, they promise that “in 2009″, they will be 100%, 24/7 High Definition.

Of course, that could take until December of 2009…or they could miss their target entirely. But the fact that they are making a concerted effort to get as much HD out there as possible is a good sign. And 24/7 means that even if the NHL is the last thing they support, it will be here eventually!

Side Note: If they can get all Preds games in HD sooner rather than later, and the NFL does indeed go into a lockout*, this could be a very good year for hockey in Nashville indeed.

*I like the Titans just fine, and wouldn’t wish a lockout on other fans for anything. But from a strictly business point of view, you know having the NFL go into even a short lockout would be a boon to the Predators business. UPDATE: If the NFL does go into lockout, it won’t be until the 2011 season.

Erat joins Legwand as a long-term Predator

In Hockey, Sports on May 12, 2008 at 1:57 pm

The Predators just announced that Martin Erat has signed a 7-year deal worth $31.5 mil. This would keep him here into the 2014-2015 season, one year longer than Legwand‘s deal. Tying up a young core like this is great. Both deals feel a little on the steep side right now, but given the growth, potential, and – more importantly – the rapidly rising salaries around the league, these deals are both going to feel like steals in a few years. Erat will be 33 at the end of the deal, which sounds pretty perfect to me.

Also, if my math is right (and the numbers on NHLnumbers.com are correct), this means that the Predators salary for next year is at approximately $40.4 mil – right at the salary floor for next season. Of course we are still well below the $56mil salary cap, which i don’t think we’ll be too near, despite David Freeman’s promises of spending to win. We still have to sign Ryan Suter and Shea Weber, and hopefully go after a forward or two to replace Gelinas and Hordichuck (who i assume won’t be re-signed). I’m thinking/hoping that Hlavich and Peverly are possibilities, but of course i also have a wish-list of stars that would be great to add. And of course we still have to work out the goalie issue with Mason and Rinne both on contract, but Ellis hanging around as the incumbent starting goalie.

I’m really looking forward to what Poile does the rest of the summer, and i’m glad we’re getting these guys’ contracts out of the way quickly (Erat is still at the World Championships for goodness sake).

Next year should be a good one. Grab your tickets now :-)

UPDATE: Erat’s initial contract has been rejected by the NHL. Apparently the actual contract was loaded too heavily in some years and too lightly in others. My understanding is that for salary cap purposes, the total deal value is divided by the number of years to just give an average to be used for cap calculations – so i’m not sure why they made the contract this wonky. According to TSN, the original contract was arranged something like this:

08-09 – 3.50 NHL
09-10 – 5.25 NHL
10-11 – 5.25 NHL
11-12 – 6.00 NHL
12-13 – 5.50 NHL
13-14 – 3.50 NHL
14-15 – 2.50 NHL

Of course the eventual deal will be re-jigged and approved i’m sure. Strange that 1) it was this unbalanced to start with 2) the Predators weren’t careful enough to know the NHL rules about salaries.

The other very interesting fact that came out is that apparently Erat has a “No Move Clause” go into effect in July 2009. That means that Erat cannot be traded, waived for a claim by another team, or assigned to the minors without his consent – even more strict than just a No Trade Clause. Wow. That i know of, the only other such clause Nashville has ever handed out was a NTC on Zidlicky’s much shorter contract. Very interesting indeed.

Happy Mother’s Day from the Predators

In Family, Hockey, Sports, Videos on May 8, 2008 at 4:22 pm

In yet another shining example that the Predators new ownership, management, and marketing teams clearly “get it”, they just released this fabulous video for Mother’s Day (which i think was clearly filmed a few weeks ago while everyone was still in town).

Happy (early) Mother’s Day, mom :-)

more good news for Predators fans

In Hockey, Nashville, Sports on April 27, 2008 at 6:56 pm

First, just wanted to point out this article from the Tennessean about the Predators gearing up for off-season moves and signings. I’ll talk much more about this in my upcoming post about player/personnel, and we’ve already talked about it some on previous post (check the comments)

Important thing to note in this article is the following quote from team Chairman David Freeman:

“I will be shocked if the Nashville Predators don’t have the biggest increase in payroll — both percentage-wise and in sheer dollars — of any team in the NHL,’’ said David Freeman, who heads the team’s ownership group.

“There’s always been that chicken-and-egg question about who should go first: Should the team increase its payroll and then hope fans and sponsors follow suit? Or should the fans and sponsors put up the money, and then the team will spend the money? We are very clearly saying we’re taking the lead. We’re spending the money first.’’

Second, good news that the Preds aren’t planning on raising ticket prices very much this year at all. 1% – 8% max (depending on the seat), which is nothing compared to the 7.25% – 41.7% increases we saw last year. Yay!

Last, but not least, I wanted to post the email that was sent out from Ed Lang ( Predators President of Business Operations) to all season ticketholders. In addition to the text messages and other thank you’s that we’ve received, this not in particular was really nice to get. Not overly dramatic or “rah-rah team”, but what (to me anyway) comes across as a sincere thanks to the fans for supporting the team – and asking them to do what is needed most – spread the word. He doesn’t ask for us to buy a bigger ticket package, sponsor the team, buy merchandise, or spend more money – just get the word out to your friends.

I think the team and management was genuinely surprised at just how the fans reacted at the end of the season. When i heard Trotz interviewed on the radio a few days ago (after the end of the season), he said that he and the coaches and players really felt like next year would be exciting and that “Now we feel like we really have something to play for. We aren’t just playing for ourselves, but for all the fans and the city of Nashville”. Let’s just hope that small group of insanely passionate fans can continue to grow (again…that’s another post to come soon).

Here’s the letter:

Dear Season Ticketholder,

The 2007-08 Predators season was filled with many memories. You likely have the Sommet Center memories of last-minute game saving stops by Dan Ellis and Chris Mason or overtime goals by Martin Erat, Alexander Radulov or Shea Weber as well as the thrilling playoff wins over Detroit.

But the memories for those of us within the Predators’ organization, from ownership and staff to players and coaches were those unbelievably loud and lengthy ovations of support and encouragement to the team that began in the regular season finale and continued in the playoffs.

Those are memories we treasure and illustrate exactly why local ownership stepped up to purchase the franchise, why the players and coaches have pledged their commitment to Nashville and why we have the best fans in professional sports. We offer a heartfelt thank you for your continued support and overwhelming passion. None of what has transpired over the last 10 months would have been possible without your commitment!

As we begin building towards the 2008-09 season, we hope you will share some of your memories with family, friends and business colleagues with the hope that even more of middle Tennessee residents will join Nashville’s Team!

Thank you for a great season of support and memories!

Ed Lang
President, Business Operations
Nashville Predators

Predators Seasons Wrap-up: Owners and Management

In Hockey, Nashville, Sports on April 22, 2008 at 10:50 am

This will be a series of posts about elements of the Predators organization as it stands at the end of another year. Stay tuned for more posts about the coaches, players, fans, etc.


As i explained to a co-worker today, this is series of blog post i was hoping to put off writing for a while longer. He was talking in very positive terms about the “great fight that the Preds gave the Wings”. While that is true, and it is awesome that this team even made it to the playoffs, it is still disappointing to have the year come to an end. I think many of us (the fans and players) really believed this team had more in it.

I’m not going to get to rear-view focused here. This last season was a crazy one, not to mention the off-season that proceeded it. I’m going to try to keep this about ‘where we go from here’. The exception is the first section, which by its nature will necessitate looking back at all the changes that have taken place, in order to appreciate the changes left to make.


Ownership/Management
Christopher Cigarran, Thomas Cigarran, Joel and Holly Dobberpuhl, William “Boots” Del Biaggio, David Freeman, Herbert Fritch, DeWitt Thompson V, John Thompson and Warren Woo

This group has been awesome. Not just the fact that they stepped up to buy the team and keep it in town (and buy us free drinks). But the other efforts as well. Marketing has improved dramatically. Advertising still leaves a little to be desired (the billboard and TV ads look like were pasted onto a PowerPoint template) but the frequency and visibility of ads has been much better. And the over-all way the team is presented around town has been outstanding.

Most of all though, they have once again made the Predators a ticket to have in town. In the final weeks of the season, we saw Governor Phil Bredesen, Jeff Fisher, Vince Young, Rob Bironas, Eddie George, Jimmy Fallon, Vince Gill, Amy Grant, Dierks Bentley, Jodee Messina, and many other celebrities have been seen at the game – on the megatron. Some of these may have been just naturally attending the game, but i can pretty much guarantee you that ‘their people’ were asked if it was ok to show them on screen. What’s better, every single one of them (with the exception of Fisher) was wearing Predators gear. This isn’t by accident. It’s marketing and promotion at its finest. Vince Young and Rob Bironas even participated in on-ice intermission entertainment. Tie-ins with the Titans is brilliant. I just hope they can continue with some quid-pro-quo next year and get some Predators featured at a Titans game or two!

It hasn’t stopped there. The Predators website has been great of late. Predators fans complaining about a lack of media coverage just haven’t found the Predators TV section yet. The local TV stations may not be covering the team well, but they team is! Toward the end of the year the team filmed a pre-game ‘show’ of around five minutes each featuring highlights and back story about the teams, what has been going on, etc (see the show from game 6 here). They also usually posted the full press conference videos and player interviews done both pre- and post-game. Oh, and of course more highlights than you could shake a stick at. The only failure here has been in not getting the word out about just how awesome this section of the site has become.

Check out the 30 minute post-season press conference with GM David Poile and head Coach Barry Trotz here–

The team even started (finally) using their SMS text message service that everyone had signed up for (when they sent “PREDS” to 66937 during intermission to win tickets). I’ve gotten several messages in the last few weeks notifying me when game 6 tickets went on sale, and about the viewing party held for game 5, Predators Pride day, etc. I hope they continue to use this to good effect (though not enough to cross the line into spam). Best message of all was the one that thanked me for my support. This new ownership group has taken nothing for granted, thanking people and companies all over the place for their support – and it is making a difference.

Other positive call-outs: The return of major sponsors (Taco Bell, Jack in the Box, Dodge, Toyota, etc, etc) bringing in extra revenue. Nice looking tickets for season ticketholders during the playoffs. Instead of a nice booklet of tickets for the regular season this year, Craig Leipold send out ticketmaster tickets for everyone. For the playoffs they returned to the nice tickets with photos of players, etc (even if they were old pictures of past players).

What i still want to see:

More HD. I know this group doesn’t have total control over games appearing in HD on Fox Sports, but the fact that none of the playoff games were available in HD in Nashville is an absolute travesty. HD has a bigger impact on hockey than any other sport – actually making it watchable for casual fans (who can now actually see the puck and more of the ice).

More Any games on local TV. They also need to get every game on TV, and more available on broadcast TV. There is no reason the occasional weekend afternoon game in Feb/March/April shouldn’t be on MyTV 30 or better yet Channel 2, 4, or 5. I know the ratings aren’t great for Predators games (yet), but they have to be better than re-runs or infomercials. I don’t care how cheap the team has to sell the rights for, they MUST get on TV more, and in a higher profile (more widely available) location.

Better ads. Both billboards and TV ad series that were run at the end of the season were well placed, and not horrible, but they didn’t look big-league. They looked very amateur. Maybe it was on purpose, but i think the team would do well to appear more professional. Hopefully having the summer to put together a new plan will help.

Preds season comes to a close

In Hockey, Nashville, Sports, Videos on April 20, 2008 at 7:25 pm

Many many words will be written about this team and this series. I’ll chime in with a few of my own shortly, but first, i think this video says a ton all by itself.

This is the final 4.8 seconds of the Predators season on the ice, followed by the fans thanking the team for the crazy ride this season turned out to be. Then the team returning the favor, saying ‘thank you’ to a city that rallied behind the them.

This team never gave up, just like their fans who refused to give them up to outsiders who called us ‘unworthy’. Many said this team wasn’t capable of finishing above 10th in the conference, and many of the same people said this city couldn’t and wouldn’t support a hockey team. We proved them all wrong.

Thank you Predators!
See you back at prospect and training camps this summer :-)

Predators Lease Changes Pass Council

In History/Politics, Hockey, Nashville, Sports on April 15, 2008 at 7:56 pm

Unless i’m wrong, this is finally “it”.

The Preds lease changes finally passed Metro Council
.

The ownership has changed hands, lease changes negotiated & passed all governing bodies, and attendance marks met.

Now we can focus 100% on hockey!

(For the record, I’m not thrilled about the lease changes. I don’t think they are really to the great benefit of the fans or the city, and only slightly to the team…but they are what the owners say they needed…and it keeps the team here. So that’s that.)

Preds Win Game 3 (and more)

In Christy, Hockey, Pictures, Sports, Videos on April 14, 2008 at 10:16 pm

“Breaking News” – not only did the Preds win game 3 tonight, but the Metro Council finally has the new lease out of committee and looks ready to vote on it today (tomorrow…er…Tuesday the 15th). Good timing!

I’ll leave it to those smarter than me to dissect the game fully (or you can just watch highlights below). Sufficed to say, Trotz made adjustments, something he hasn’t done well in the past. The adjustments in lines and match-ups freed our players to do what they needed to do, and they got the job done.

You will also hear much regarding the crowd tonight. Once again, there were several long standing ovations, and the final 3-4 minutes was probably the loudest i’ve ever experienced at a sporting event of any kind (and i’ve been to San Antonio Spurs games in the NBA Finals, etc). I’m not going to say it was the loudest ever in history…but it was pretty nuts. To put it in perspective, i’m a drummer, and i was afraid of having some serious hearing damage.

Major kudos to the arena crew once again for knowing when to let the crowd go. There was more than one time that the crowd started a “Lets Go Predators” or other chant and the arena crew quickly muted the techno or whatever music they were playing in favor of letting the crowd feed off the natural hype. They also finally traded the commonly used red lights during pre-game for blue and yellow (gold) ones. You’d think this was a no-brainer, but it hasn’t always been. These ‘little things’ did not go unappreciated!

I’m also uploading all the pictures that Christy took at tonights game. She’s been grabbing better shots than me lately, so i’m letting her have the camera from here on out i think (besides, we win when she’s shooting).

Of course, i took this shot during pre-game warm-ups:
They always show the pretty girls in the crowd ya know :-)

I also have to apologize to David Legwand. During warm-ups i took this picture of his skates (right), which to me showed he was clearly a decoy and not going to actually play. Thank you for proving me very wrong, Leggy.

And finally, this is now my new favorite Preds picture (that wasn’t taken by me or Christy).

hockey for the fans

In Friends, Hockey, Sports on April 9, 2008 at 8:36 pm

Quick random post…

First, everyone wear your Predators gear tomorrow (Thurs 4/10/08). It’s Predators Pride Day!

Also, our good friends Matt and Josef of Beyond The Edge and Batter’d n Fried were caught in the “official” video of the standing ovation “moment” from last weeks game. Here they are (Matt and Josef in that order are the two guys in the lower right):
Also wanted to share this picture sent to me by the guy that sits next to us at Preds games (Andy). Hee hee.
Lastly – we are very close to having enough sign-ups to finally get a Predators license plate. Less than 100 to go, so hit this page and order yours now! Just $35


The Onion also just posted a story about goalie Dan Ellis having literally moved into the net.

That is all

all things hockey

In Christy, Friends, Hockey, Sports on April 7, 2008 at 6:35 am

Well, for those living under a rock, the Nashville Predators secured their 4th consecutive playoff appearance last week. We drew the same opponent we had during our first shot in the 03-04 season, the Detroit Dead Things Red Wings.

The Preds will be the 8th seed against the first seeded Wings which, for the uninitiated, means we will start this series on the road. The NHL just released the schedule for the playoffs last night, and the Preds/Wings series is as follows:

2008 WESTERN CONFERENCE QUARTER-FINAL
SERIES E TIME (Central) #1 Detroit vs. #8 Nashville Network
Thur, April 10 6:00 pm Nashville at Detroit VERSUS
Sat, April 12 1:00 pm Nashville at Detroit NBC
Mon, April 14 TBD (6pm?) Detroit at Nashville VERSUS
Wed, April 16 TBD (8pm?) Detroit at Nashville VERSUS
Fri, April 18 6:30 pm Nashville at Detroit VERSUS
Sun, April 20 2:00 pm Detroit at Nashville NBC
Tues, April 22 TBD Nashville at Detroit

(UPDATE: Confirmed- Game 3 starts at 6:30, game 4 starts at 8:00pm)

I already have my playoff tickets, and for anyone who’d like to try to grab the (very) few that are left for games 3 or 4, direct message me on Twitter (pwnicholson) or call my Grand Central number (615-823-1734) and i will gladly hook you up with a referral to my rep (Tiffany Vanek – 770-2338) and let you buy off my account (i get referral credit – thank you new ownership!)

Anyway…

First game is of course this Thurs night. Haven’t decided yet where i’ll be watching it, but rest assured i will.

Game 2 (in Detroit) is going to be on NBC! Which means, that Paul and Christy get to actually watch it at home!! (We don’t have cable…season tickets instead)

If you’d like to join us in East Nashville (and watch the game in HD on a 100″ projector screen), just drop me a line via email, phone (615-823-1734), or Twitter (pwnicholson) for directions. Party will start shortly before the game at 1:00pm of course.

For games 3 and 4 here in Nashville – they haven’t set times yet, but for the game will be on Versus and the only other game on Versus that night is scheduled for 9:00pm central, which means i think we’ll get an early start – probably a 6:30pm or maybe even 6:00pm start time. Game 4 on the 16th is the reverse situation. It is on Versus again and the only other game on Versus that night starts at 6:00pm central, so we may have a late one – guessing an 8:00-8:30 start time.

I’m seriously considering getting in my “i’ll be in late” request to work for the 17th now :-)


In related news, the end of the regular season means the end of Fantasy Hockey. Final Standings ended thusly:
  1. Fab Forechecker (Dirk Hoag)
  2. Ice Holes (Paul McCann)
  3. Rebel Mandos (Kevin Peters)
  4. Preds (Paul Nicholson – me!)
  5. Novice — Fresh Meat (Kevin Hicks)
  6. Disastros (David Calrson)
  7. PuckNtheMouth (Brandon Felder)
  8. Old School Blues (Gary Nicholson)
  9. Nashville Starcats (Christy Nicholson)
  10. Predheads (Ryan Cassell)

Not too bad all things considered. The championship bracket was everything i though it’d be, with Paul McCann (hockey blogger and PA announcer for the Predators) up against Forechecker (hockey blogger and statistician extraordinare). They actually tied 5-5-1 in the championship “game” and had to go to the tiebreaker (team goals) which Forechecker won handily (23-9). Also worth noting is Kevin’s (Mandos) nice recovery from last year, where he finished 7th out of 8th in an admittedly much weaker field – this year he pounded me in the 3rd/4th place game in the final week.


Lastly, for all those truly obsessed with hockey, make sure to watch the NHL Draft Lottery tonight. This isn’t the actual draft of course, just the lottery to determine where the picks lineup. Good news for the Preds is that thanks to the Tomas Vokoun trade from last summer, we own Florida’s first and second round picks, and they finished with the 9th worst record in the league. This translates in draft to mean that the Predators will have somewhere between the 5th and 10th overall pick in the draft. Show is available on Versus and online at NHL.com. Starts at 7:00pm central.

Predators make the Playoffs!!!

In Hockey, Nashville, Pictures, Sports, Videos on April 3, 2008 at 10:13 pm

I’ll try to blog about it more tomorrow.

Right now i’ve got to try to come down off this adrenaline rush and get some sleep.

Preds won. Vancouver Lost. We’re in the playoffs!

Lots of pictures here (courtesy of my lovely bride, who took all the shots at tonight’s game), including pictures of Titan’s quarterback Vince Young, who was at the game and threw out t-shirts to the crowd.

And a video she shot of the amazing spontaneous crowd response is here:

Nashville Thanks the Predators

(If the video isn’t working, that’s because it’s still converting on Vimeo’s server…check back a little while…)

The crowd rose to give the team a standing ovation during a TV timeout after a great effort in the 3rd period. And they wouldn’t stop. For a solid 2:30, the crowd just stood and cheered and waived their t-shirts* (think about it…just sit in your chair and do nothing for 2:30. That’s a long time). The arena crew was smart enough not to interrupt with any videos or music. Just let the crowd thank the team. It was amazing. The game wasn’t even over at that point. Gave me the chills.

Detroit vs. Nashville will start sometime next week.
Let’s go Preds!

* By the way, the t-shirts look great and are way cooler shirts than past giveaway shirts

Preds get into it with Columbus fans

In Funny, Hockey, Sports on March 31, 2008 at 11:12 am

Ok, so it doesn’t sound like it was that bad, but it got your attention, right?

James Mirtle just posted a story about his road trip to see the Preds play the Blue Jackets in Columbus (actually, he was there on assignment for the Globe and Mail to cover a soccer tourney).

The most interesting part by far:

Toward the end of the game, two hecklers started trying to give it to one end of the Preds bench where Jerred Smithson and Vernon Fiddler were sitting.

The conversation seemed relatively innocuous, and Fiddler was having a good time giving little behind the back fist pumps while he mouthed one word to the crowd: “Playoffs“.

Eventually, it turned a little ugly, as Smithson sprayed a water bottle through the crack in the glass at the fellow…who proceeded to dump half a beer over the glass.

Nice.

He also has some good pics, but i won’t post them here. I don’t want to steal the whole post. Go check it out for yourself.

Looks like the animosity between these franchises doesn’t just involve the players. I don’t recall ever hearing of these types of altercations with fans in Nashville when Columbus visits, but that may have to do with us being the big brother in this situation, and the fans there are probably tired of losing to us all the time.

Predators lease goes before Metro Council

In East Nashville, Hockey, Nashville, Sports on March 19, 2008 at 8:02 am

Now that the Predators’ lease has passed the Sports Authority, it will now go before the metro council.

I have already expressed some of my concerns about this lease from both a fan and citizen perspective in the past, and i intend to do so again soon, but in the mean time, i wanted to make sure you all knew how easy it was to let your councilman know how you feel: http://www.nashville.gov/council/feedback.html

This is what i just wrote in to our councilman, Erik Cole…

Mr Cole,

First, thanks for being a great councilman. I really appreciate everything you’ve done for us in east Nashville.

I just wanted to let you know that I strongly support the passage of the Predators new lease agreement. I know it is far from a perfect deal. Even as a Preds fan, I am disappointed in the length that it locks the team here. But the fact is that the city, arena, downtown, and all will do much better with the team here than not, and these lease terms are a good short-term patch. This will give the team under new ownership time to get on their feet and make things happen the way they should have under the previous ownership.

If the Preds are still heavily reliant on large subsidies in 5 years, and attendance has not gone up, then they can leave, and though it would make me sad, I wouldn’t fight it. However, I believe this shorter term “last chance” is one worth giving the team and the city.

Thanks,

Paul Nicholson

Here’s hoping that their 5 year plan works.

Sports Authority Approves New Predators Lease

In Hockey, Nashville, Sports on March 18, 2008 at 1:19 pm

NashvillePost.com is reporting it right now. Of course it is a pay only article, and i don’t have a subscription, so i have no more details than a headline right now…

UPDATE: The sports section of the Tennessean doesn’t have anything, but deep on the metro news section there is an article that talks about “Metro will always pay $3.8mil in arena loss” and mentions in passing that “Sports Authority members voted 7-1 to approve the lease agreement. The dissenting voter, Steve North, said he thought the new lease might leave the city paying for more than it expects.”

Next move from here is for the new lease to be approved by the Metro Council. No idea on the time frame for that one.

UPDATE 2: According to a random article by the Canadian Press, the new lease will go before the Metro Council on April 1st. Just hope that isn’t a joke. ;-)

UPDATE 3: The City Paper finally posts an article! Confirms the passage and the April 1st date for Metro Council. A few other comments, but not real details beyond what we had already heard about the lease changes outside of specifying the penalty amounts the team has to pay if it wants to leave after 3, 4, or 5+ years: “$20 million for 2010, $25 for 2011 and then drops to $10 million for any year thereafter” (more on that later…).

I’ll make another big Preds update soon…

At the Preds party

In East Nashville, Hockey on March 7, 2008 at 7:19 pm


At the Preds party

At Beyond the Edge for the Preds viewing party. Not going to live blog the game… Since i forgot my laptop (posting this from my phone). Feel free to comment on this post or direct message me on twitter (pwnicholson) with questions. I know Pete and Terry are great but they don’t always remember that we can’t see everything they can when on they are on the radio.

Preds’ owner talks, and party reminders

In Hockey, Sports on March 7, 2008 at 10:54 am

David Freeman, the leader of the Predators new ownership group, just did a little Q&A with the official Preds website (which i have to say has been coming along nicely in terms of content and quality). Not too much there that was amazing, but a few quotes and observations to point out:

First and foremost i’m loving the implications in this quote:

NP.com: Have you starting planning the budget for next season?
DF: Sure. Yes. Strategically it’s probably not good for us to talk about that publicly for competitive reasons. Our budget will be significantly higher than it was this year. In fact, I’m quite certain we will spend more on payroll next year than at any time in the history of the club. We’re that committed to building this team right back up.

Did you catch that? “we will spend more on payroll next year than at any time in the history of the club“. Wow. That’s saying something!

I just got through saying on a HockeyBuzz discussion about Shea Weber’s chances of resigning with the Preds, that i was nervous about our ability to sign Shea. If projects are correct that he could command $7mil a year, then i assumed that meant he would be gone. The largest contract (that i know of) that the Preds have ever signed anyone to was Vokoun’s contract when we resigned him in the middle of last year to a 4-year, $22.8mil deal that will max-out and pay him $6.3mil in the final year… and we traded him and that contract away at the end of the year when Leipold put the team on the salary floor*. With that in mind, signing a d-man to a $7mil per year contract seems pretty out of character, and possibly out of reach. I think we could count on a small amount of home-town discount from Shea, so that together with this comment from Freeman makes me a lot more hopeful about our chances of keeping him, Erat, and other restricted free agents at the end of this year.

*Side comment about Craig Leipold: I think Leipold clearly had the pockets to keep the Preds above the salary floor, and he was clearly intent on buying the Wild before he’d even sold the Predators. Since he was about to move to another Western Conference team, why not do massive damage to the franchise you’re about to turn around and face 4 times a year. It would be the equivalent of a player who had just been traded setting fire to the equipment truck on your way to the airport. — I’m glad Leipold brought hockey to Nashville, but i think what he did to the franchise in the last year borders on unethical business practice. Not a fan personally.

Other thoughts on the interview…

Freeman talks quite a bit about his personal relationship to the team and hockey, etc. While talking about his experience on Trade Deadline Day and how his kids are with the team, etc…you get a real sense that this is still a project for the city, and a logical business decision. He is not passionate about hockey and is still fresh into becoming a fan, but is getting there.

Specifically, when asked about Nashville as a hockey market, the owner of the franchise replied:

I don’t know that I’m in a position to answer that question. Time will tell. But I think that there’s obviously a much greater awareness of the team and what the team means to the city. Even for those who might not have been hockey fans in the past – and maybe they’re still not – but I think there’s a huge awareness of the team and what it means to the city. Sometimes you don’t know what you’ve got until you almost lost it. I think that definitely applies in this situation.

He also said that he doesn’t talk about the team much with his kids, but that his kids get most of the news about the team from their friends. He said that they are enjoying going to games and “have become big fans very quickly, just like I have.” While i certainly appreciate the honesty, i would love for him to have gushed about how much he loves the game and doesn’t know how he missed how great it was for so long, and that once more people in Nashville are exposed to hockey that ‘the most passionate fans in sports’ (as 104.5 calls Nashville) will turn to hockey with the same zeal they give to football. But i guess that’s me.

All in all it’s a good interview and worth checking out. I think Freeman is just an understated, shy guy. He’s still getting used to giving interviews and isn’t much of a marketer himself. Good news is that he’s hiring people who do, and the marketing and sponsorships are getting much much better.


Reminder to come watch the game with us tonight at Beyond the Edge (assuming you aren’t snowed in). Game starts at 8:30pm, and there will be giveaways (i am pretty sure tickets for an upcoming game will be one of the prizes) and much fun had by all. They guys at Beyond the Edge are big Preds supporters, so come out and support a business that supports that Preds!


And of course my birthday party LAN party is tomorrow…invitation is still out there for any interested in coming. Just need a PC and…well, that’s really it. You’ll need a copy of Half-Life 2, but we may even have an extra we can spot you if needed.

Preds Viewing Party reminder

In Hockey, Me, Sports on March 3, 2008 at 10:22 pm

Just a quick heads up that Beyond the Edge is hosting another viewing party for the Predators game this Friday night. This game will not be on Fox Sports South, so unless you have the Center Ice package at home, you’ll have to head to one sports bar or another if you want to watch it live.

So, why not check it out at a cool bar in East Nashville with a bunch of other Preds fans – oh, and have a chance to win swag (hats, t-shirts, etc) and tickets to an upcoming game!

Time Change: This is a west coast game, so it starts late – 8:30pm. But hey, it’s the weekend, so why not stay up a little late?

Predators vs Calgary
Friday, March 7th, 8:30pm
Beyond the Edge
112 S 11th St., Nashville, TN 37206

Note: Friday also happens to be my birthday, so i think this is kinda turning into an unofficial birthday-related party-type thing for me. Just be warned. And bring me stuff. Or something.

Predators/Hockey News (with attendance update)

In History/Politics, Hockey, Pictures, Sports on March 3, 2008 at 8:19 pm

I was widely quoted as being a pessimist about the attendance for the Predators when i made this post back a few weeks ago (something about titling it “Bad News for the Predators’ Future“). Since I posted that, i figure i owe everyone an update:

Through 28 games, the Predators had averaged 12,756 in paid attendance. In the last 5 games, the Preds averaged 14,190 in paid attendance (including a few sellouts that were at about 15,200 in paid attendance). That’s a significant increase, and something to be proud of. That brings our average through 33 games to 12,973 per game. Still not where it needs to be, but an improvement.

So, now we must average 13,750 in paid attendance to reach the 13,125 needed to qualify for the revenue sharing we need. Looks like a very do-able number, especially since we’ve averaged well better than that lately (and the current race for the playoffs, free food night, and a few games against Detroit won’t hurt).

Unfortunately, it looks like my other predictions from my earlier post were pretty accurate. Even if the Preds sold out every game from here on out (assuming that translates to 15,200 in paid attendance out of the 17,113 capacity, as has usually been the case) that would only pull the average up to 13,408. Far, far short of the 14,000 needed to keep the current lease intact.

So, it’s a good thing Freeman and the new ownership crew finally got the new lease over to the Sports Authority after all. That agreement keeps the team here for at least another 3-5 years (depending on attendance) and I am beginning to trust this new ownership group to do what it takes to win over fans and businesses in the community…

UPDATE: A blogger on the Tennessean’s website (only works in I.E.) is also reporting that the new ownership has rescinded the “cure clause” for attendance this year. Meaning that, technically, even if the new lease isn’t put into effect and the 14,000 in paid attendance isn’t reached, the team still can’t move. The same blogger says that the Sports Authority will be reviewing (and voting on?) the new lease terms tomorrow morning. Still awaiting any official confirmation…

UPDATE 2: Just talked to my ticket rep and it looks like the March 20th Detroit game and the March 22nd Chicago game will be sellouts, and several other games are going fast. Looking good!


Which reminds me, it turns out that local good-guy Gordon David Freeman is the largest shareholder after all. He owns 32.63% of the team, while the “outsiders” from California, Boots Del Biaggio and Warren Woo own only a combined 31.58%. That is a significant change from what we were led to believe earlier.

The fact that the outsiders (with eyes for a franchise in Kansas City) don’t actually own most of the team, with locals just holding a token share, really means a lot to me. Conspiracy theories about them just playing nice and having a plan all-along to move the team (and Freeman just being a guy they talked into being a local front/mouthpiece) aren’t going to go away… but this sure looks better, especially when you take into account that the remaining 35.79% is owned by other Nashville locals (making the total local share nearly 70%). I’m kinda surprised the team hasn’t made a bigger deal out of it.


The first two sentences from an article in the Tennessean today regarding Martin Gelinas:
Predators forward Martin Gelinas will undergo surgery on Wednesday to repair his torn ACL, putting an end to his season.

Gelinas had suffered the injury Feb. 21 against Vancouver, but was hoping that — after the swelling had gone down — there would still be a chance he’d be able to play without the ACL this season.

Really? I’d love to have seen him try to play with a ligament completely removed from his leg. He’s a tough player, but i don’t think anyone would be able to pull that off.

On a more serious note, it is too bad that we’ve lost Jelly Gelli Gelinas for the season, and i honestly wonder if his career is done. He was playing very well for us this year, but he’s getting up in years, and recovering from ACL damage this bad won’t be easy, even for a fitness and conditioning nut like him. If he were under contract, i’d say he’ll be back. But i don’t know many teams that will take a 38 year old 3rd-liner recovering from a bum ACL. Great player, but that may be it for him.


I didn’t get a chance to watch the Washington Capitals clean the ice with the Boston Bruins tonight, but…wow. Of course, everyone’s going to be talking about Ovechkin’s 5-point hat-trick-with-2-helpers night, but just take a second to check out the box score. More than just the 10-2 slaughter stands out to me…

Boston players Zedeno Chara (who i have on my fantasy roster), Marco Sturm, and Phil Kessel all played 16 or more minutes (nearly 20 for Chara) but ended up even in plus/minus. Kessel actually ended up plus-1 for the night!? I know 4 goals were on the power play (so they don’t count toward plus/minus), but 6 goals were at even strength! How do you end up on the bad side of a 10-2 drubbing and still end up plus-1 for the game? Wow.

Conversely, with 6 goals scored at even strength and only one even strength goal allowed against their team, Sergei Federov, Brooks Laich, and Alexander Semin somehow ended up minus-1 for the game. Ouch.

Ovechkin got his 5 points, but the Caps really spread the love tonight. Every single player in the Capitals roster registered at least a point (either a goal or an assist) except poor Jurcina and new arrival Sergei Federov.

Besides the horrible minus-1 and no points for Sergei in the game, he didn’t draw a complete goose-egg on the otherwise packed box score…he had a single shot on goal. Woooow. I’m sure he was one of the 3 stars for this game…

Chara not only pulled off an even plus/minus for my fantasy team in this game, he also pulled in an assist, a shot on goal, and 9 PIMs. And someone just offered me a trade with him for Jonathan Cheechoo. Ha! Yeah right!

Preds fans hope Florida takes a dive

In Hockey, Sports on March 3, 2008 at 8:17 am

Toronto Globe and Mail writer James Mirtle just posted a good summary on his blog of how the NHL’s draft lottery works. It isn’t terribly different from the way the NBA’s lottery works if you are familiar with that method.

Basically, the 14 teams that don’t make the playoffs are put into the lottery drawing to arrange their draft order (This is done so that the worst team in the league doesn’t automatically get the #1 pick, which would cause teams to intentionally lose at the end of a year). It is a little complicated in that no team can move down more than one spot from where they “should” be, and no team can move up more than 4 spots.

As of right now for instance, the Predators are just out of the playoffs and would be the last team in the lottery (#14). At best we could move up to pick #10, but couldn’t do worse than #14.

But the best part for Preds fans? Everyone remember that trade we made with Florida for Tomas Vokoun that everyone was so upset about? “We gave up Vokoun and didn’t get anything in return!” It was a pure salary dump, meant to unload Vokoun’s big contract and get the team on the salary cap floor. Well, we got Florida’s second round pick last year, and their first and second round picks this year. Where is Florida in the lottery at this point? 3rd from the last! Meaning that the Preds (who own Florida’s first pick) have a 14.2% chance of getting the #1 pick in the draft, and it isn’t too inconceivable to think that we could end up with the #1, #10, #31, #40 (and more) picks. The worse Florida finishes, the better the Preds chances of ending up with the #1 pick.

This draft is largely considered one of the deepest and most talented in years (see a mock draft here), and Poile has proved himself as a fabulous GM, especially when it comes to drafting.

I’d love to make the playoffs this year, and go deep – heck, win it all – but the great thing is that as good as we do, we can still improve our position in the draft with every loss Florida racks up.

If Vokoun really loves his old team so much, i wonder if he’ll let a few weak ones through the wickets for us… :-)

What’s Your Number?

In Christy, Hockey, Pictures, Sports on February 28, 2008 at 3:03 pm

People seem a bit confused about new Predator Brandon Bochenski…or at least what number he will wear while on the Preds roster.

The Predators website says he will wear #12 (the number he wore in Anaheim), however it also still lists Scott Nichol as continuing to wear #12, and Bochenski has been in the league a shorter time than Nichol, so I don’t see him bumping Scooter of his number. Yahoo sports page lists him as wearing #13, which seems logical given his previous wearing #12…but I seriously doubt a hockey player would wear #13. (by the way, Sports Illustrated’s site still says he’s on the Duck’s roster)

The most authoritative evidence we have is probably from the pictures my wife took at the open practice this afternoon. Practice jersey’s don’t have numbers on them…but helmets do. Zoom in close and you can see that he’s got #24 on the back of his helmet (picture at right). Yup, Scott Walker’s old number. I bet there will be more than a few fans not thrilled at that prospect, though he did get a warm welcome at practice today. Christy said he seemed genuinely surprised when several fans asked for his autograph as he was headed to the locker room after practice. Guess they don’t do that to non-superstars in Anaheim.

Let’s just hope he can help out the team that needs…something.

We’ll find out Sat night as the Preds take on Dallas (will be in HD on Fox Sports South).

(For the record: the other new Pred, Jan Hlavich, is wearing Scott Hartnell’s old #17. While Scott was well liked while here, i think it is safe to say that he was not as universally loved and appreciated the same way Scott Walker was/is.)

Preds (fairly) quiet on trade deadline day

In Hockey, Sports, Videos on February 26, 2008 at 1:53 pm

Well, the Predators have be laying low (so far) on trade deadline day.

UPDATE: We just traded for Jan Hlavac (pronounced hull-A-vich)(formerly of the Lightning, Rangers, Hurricanes, Canucks, and Flyers). Only had to give up a 7th round pick to do it too. Not too bad. He comes on the super-cheap (he was on a one-year $700k deal and is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year. Don’t know much about him…but he is certainly not a star player. Will probably be able to spell Gelinas well enough. He’s 31 years old and has obviously been around the block, though it doesn’t look like he’s ever been a great producer and only has 5 games of playoff experience with Vancouver. His best year was his second in the league in 2000-2001 when he racked up 28 goals and 36 assist in 79 games with the Rangers. It was quickly down hill after that though as his performance has been a consistent 20-something points per year in and average of 60-70 games annually. More concerning is his plus/minus (-9, -8, -10 for the last three years). So…we’ll see…

UPDATE 2: and now we’ve picked up Brandon Bochenski from the Ducks. Barely worth commenting on here. He’s played in a whopping 32 games this year, and just 113 games in his 3 year career. High point for this guy was last year’s 13 goals, 11 assists in 41 games. Meh. Good news is that we only gave up “future considerations” which i’m hoping is the proverbial “bag of pucks and a 12th round pick in 2010″ :-) Interestingly, he is a restricted free agent (as opposed to the typical un-restricted free agent “rental players”) at the end his whopping one-year $600k contract this year, so we could conceivably re-sign him if he turns out to be some sort of wonder.

Now back to my previous comments.

I have to say i’m pretty disappointed that we missed out on Prospal, especially given how cheap he went for…but i’m not at all regretting Poile not going for the high-priced guys like Hossa, Richards, Campbell, or even Federov, Ruutu, Simon and others.

We “need” to pickup another forward (update: see above), but given what teams are giving up, and given how insanely beefed up Dallas, San Jose, Colorado, and even Anaheim and Pittsburgh are looking…i’m content to just see what we can do with what we have, draft well next year, and grab a few free agents in the off season (update: which we basically did).

The Preds are still a team on a budget (though thankfully not Leipold’s) and Poile knows he’s going to be able to put a better team together with ‘value’ veterans, prospects, and role-players. As has been discussed before, Trotz does better with those types than the superstars anyway.

So… for all you Predator fans looking for something entertaining on Trade Deadline Day…i leave you with Jordin Tootoo, doing his thing for Jack FM (yet more marketing efforts from new ownership that we never saw from Leipold)

Bad news for the Predators’ future

In Hockey, Nashville, Sports on February 14, 2008 at 9:25 am

Unfortunately, things aren’t looking great for the Preds attendance numbers.

I can honestly say i’m surprised at the turnout. I know the economy has been on a bit of a slow-down, but i really thought that we would average better attendance, especially after the rally this summer.

Through 28 games, the Preds have averaged 12,756 in paid attendance. The Detroit game last Tues isn’t included in that, and it was close to a sell-out, but didn’t quite hit from what i heard. The last sell-out we did have, was in fact the Phoenix game which had 15,160 in paid attendance (meaning 1,953 tickets were comped).

If my numbers are right (and this is something better suited to Forechecker), the Preds need to average 13,830 for the remaining games in order to hit the league minimum 13,125 needed to receive the desperately needed revenue sharing. That is slightly more than what we’ve averaged over the four games between Jan 31st-Feb 7th (13,467) that included the Phoenix sell-out, but it is possible.

In order to reach the 14,000 required to keep the force the Predators to stay in town under the current (old) lease with the city, the team would have to average 16,820 in paid attendance, which let’s face it, at this point is not going to happen.

Maybe my math is wrong.
Maybe some miracle will happen.

This is particularly disappointing for me because the new ownership is really doing a great job starting to do the things that i think it will take to get the public really interested in games again. They are getting celebrities to the games and showing them on the megatron (including Jeff Fisher – the first time i have ever seen a Titans player or coach at a Preds game in years).

Earlier this year, the previous owner i keep hearing so much love for (Leipold) stripped the team of salary, but also completely cut all marketing and advertising budget. The team also lost all sponsorships with the Johnson family products (Fantastik, Scrubbing Bubbles, Windex, etc) that were mainstays in the arena, as well as the Taco Bell and several other headline sponsors. It has taken months for the new ownership to turn that around, finally getting Taco Bell back in the fold, and bringing on a number of other major sponsors for in-arena spots. All of that makes the team more profitable, which of course is needed for long-term stability.

So where does this leave us…

Early this year, i was hating on the new lease deal with the city. I suspected that it was a sneaky way for the new owners to make a good show, then move the team out after just 5 years. I was convinced that the old deal, which would keep the team here for 15 years if attendance numbers were hit was the better offer. I was convinced that the attendance numbers would be hit this year. I hate to say it looks like i was wrong. The attendance numbers haven’t been there, for whatever reason. I just hope that i was also wrong about the new owners intentions. I hope that they really do want to make things work here, not just let the team gracefully fade, then move them. Because in about 2-3 months, it looks like they will be able move the team if they want to.

Of course, one thing could save all of this… a long playoff run with sold-out games. :-)
Go Preds!

meme: me, me, me

In Blog Stuff, Friends, Hockey, Me, Movies on February 10, 2008 at 8:41 am

Christy just tagged me (and i guess Matt would have if i hadn’t been already) so…

Rules: Once you are tagged, link back to the person who tagged you. Post the rules on your blog. Post 7 random or weird facts about yourself on your blog. Tag 7 people and link to them. Comment on their blog to let them know they have been tagged.

1) I took 7 years to get through college and only took 2 semesters off the whole time (including summer sessions). I attended 3 Universities, changed my major 5 times and minors 7 times. My eventual degree required 120 hours, but I attempted 177 and attained 152 (only actually failed a few, but dropped many). But i did finish, dang it! My degree is a B.S. in Recording Industry Management (Music Business emphasis) with a Marketing minor. I sell printers for Dell as a living right now and don’t use any of it (for my day job anyway). [slaps forehead]

2) Unlike my wife, i have seen Titanic (hated it). What is interesting is that i saw it with a bunch of college buddies (4 of us if i remember correctly). No girls in sight. We went to a midnight show that didn’t get out until after 3:00am. I still don’t know how they talked me into it, but we all regretted it later.

3) I am, technically speaking, a member of the Bar Association. I was part of a special debate-team-kinda thing in Middle School back in Texas and was made a junior member of the Bar Association. I still have the membership card in a box somewhere. Unfortunately this does not afford me better pay at work.

4) I learned to love hockey in Huntsville, AL. I attended the Univ. of Alabama at Huntsville for one semester only (worst 4-5 months of my life). There was absolutely nothing to do for out of town college students in that town if you didn’t like drinking (i could only go to the NASA exhibits so many times). But UAH did have a hockey team, and Huntsville had a minor league team. Attendance was so bad they used to let UAH students in free to both games (frequently back-to-back). I spent many nights watching 4-5 straight hours of hockey (which i had never seen live before) that was mostly filled with lots of scoring and fights. The games frequently finished with 6-8 scores. It wasn’t great hockey, but it was good enough to win me over.

5) My wife Christy and i have been married for about 5.5 years, but we started dating Sept 23rd…i think it was 1994 (maybe 1995). Homecoming was our first date (everyone say “awwwww”). I only really dated two other girls my entire life (though i ‘went out’ with 2 more in middle school). We waited until one of us graduated (as you can guess from #1 above, that was her) to get married (no, we never lived together before that). So we dated for about 8 years, were engaged for a year and half, then got married. If i have my math right, we’ve been a couple for nearly 15 years.

6) I don’t consider myself a fearful person, but i do have one issue that borders on a phobia: bugs. Especially if they surprise me by being where they shouldn’t be. I can handle water, crowds, snakes, small woodland creatures, and can survive heights (though i don’t love them)… but if a bug suddenly shows up on our bedroom wall: Christy gets to handle it.

7) Rote memorization has never been a strong point for me. Always had trouble studying for tests and memorizing Bible versus. But two things i can remember: movies and song lyrics. I can pretty much recite every line in three Star Wars movies, any Pixar movie, most of the Indiana Jones trilogy, and the movie version of Much Ado About Nothing…and tons of other movies – if i am watching them. I can lip-sync (or speak) right along with them. Exact timing of the lines and everything. Same with most songs: if i listen to it more than a few times and like it, i’ll pick up lyrics very easily (usually) and can sing along with it later. But, if you asked me to just write out the script of lyrics on a sheet of paper from memory i’d be hurting for all but a few movies and songs.

Ok. That’s it.

I guess i’ll go try to tag a couple of people.

Preds Party Tonight!!

In East Nashville, Hockey, Sports on February 9, 2008 at 11:34 am

I forgot to post about this earlier but Beyond the Edge is hosting
another Predators viewing party tonight. Game is on the west coast so
it starts at 9:00pm. They will be giving away tickets for the game on
Feb 14th (valentines day) along with the usual assortment of swag.

Hope to see you there!

Predators Viewing Party!!

In Entertainment, Hockey, Sports on January 28, 2008 at 9:23 pm

As i mentioned earlier, there is another Predators Viewing Party at Beyond the Edge at 6:00pm in the 5-points area of East Nashville(directions, map) tomorrow, Tues, Jan 29th. If you’re looking for a place to watch the game, it promises to be a good one.

The game tomorrow night starts at 6:00pm, and is against the rarely seen (eastern conference) Boston Bruins. For those that don’t know, Beyond the Edge is owned by the same Matt that owns Batter’d n Fried…the Boston-style seafood place down the street…yeah, he’s from Boston. So, everyone has to go to cheer against Matt’s other team :-)

There will be prizes (t-shirts, hats, tickets!) given away during each intermission, so come out and join Christy and i. I’ll be ordering the philly cheesesteak and i guarantee we’ll finish it off with the awesome new chocolate dessert they have now.

Oh – and for those that can’t come out to Beyond the Edge, do at least check out the game. Fox Sports South is going to make this whole game a Hockey 101 special: FSN South Goes to Hockey School. So if you’ve never seen a game, or still don’t understand what “off-sides” or “icing” means, then make sure to watch. Pete and Terry always make the game fun, and this promises to make things very interesting :-)

New NHL All-Star Weekend Events

In Entertainment, Hockey, Sports on January 21, 2008 at 12:39 pm

In a continued effort to grab the attention of…anyone…the NHL has made some pretty big changes to their All-Star weekend. And I love it.

The first change I heard about was that the Young Stars game had been made a shorter 3-on-3 game. Which seemed really weird to me. Especially since there were now no Predators involved, I was a little upset at the shortened roster. But once I learned the full picture – I love it.

They are basically patterning the weekend after the NBA’s ultra-successful All-Star weekend: slam dunk contest included!

The Young Stars game will basically be part of the skills competition now. The East-vs-West contest of abilities where players earn points for their conference. But almost every event has been tweaked to be more exciting. The winning side for the Young Stars game earn points for their side. The speed event is now an Olympic style mano-a-mano race from goal line to blue line instead of just a loop around the boards against the clock. This is a major improvement as it is more realistic given the usual blue line to goal line race for an icing call or breakaway and more exciting for the player-vs-player aspect. A shootout competition has also been added to the usual speed/accurate shot/hardest shot competitions.

Best of all, they have added a judged slam-dunk style competition. And who should judge such a competition when the first event is held in Atlanta? Dominique Wilkins. No kidding. They are holding a judged “creative shootout” competition that will be judged. How awesome is that? My question is if they will be shooting on a goalie and if so, is it a friendly goalie?

I wasn’t going to bother finding a TV for the All-Star game (as it is relegated to Versus, not NBC, and I still don’t have cable), and I still probably won’t watch the actual All-Star game. But all this stuff actually sounds like a lot of fun!

Predators Center Ice Viewing Party!

In East Nashville, Hockey, Nashville, Sports on January 6, 2008 at 8:27 pm

UPDATE: My original post here mentioned that the next party was March 12th. That was me making a dumb typo when being charged by the minute for internet access while on a cruise. The party is/was on Jan 12th. The next party will be on Jan 29th for the game against the Boston Bruins – fitting since the owner of the bar (Matt) is from Boston and runs a Boston-style seafood place right down the hill from Beyond the Edge.


Heads up to all Preds fans out there that our good friend Josef, manager of Beyond the Edge has not only purchased the Center Ice package for his bar, but has arrange a sponsorship deal with Bud Light for Preds viewing parties.

They will have the game on multiple HDTV’s around the bar area (including one massive 60″ beast) and will be giving away Predators hats, t-Shirts, etc at drawings during intermission. Sometimes they have practice jersey’s and other high-end swag too. Best of all -TICKETS! That’s right, they give away a pair of tickets at every party. How sweet is that?!

The next party will be Jan 12th an 6:00pm for the game against the hated Columbus Blue Jackets. The game is not on Fox Sports South or Versus, so if you want to watch this important divisional game, you have precious few choices in Nashville – why not try to win some Preds swag and tickets!

While you’re there, i highly recommend the burgers or the Philly Cheese Steak…and the chocolate dessert. Killer food that doesn’t belong in a sports bar.

For more info an directions to the bar, check out www.beyondtheedge.net

crime and punishment (part 2)

In Hockey, Sports on December 19, 2007 at 2:26 pm

A while back I was ranting against the NHL’s policy of letting the injury determine the penalty handed out. Well, it looks like they finally realized that in some cases that just can’t apply. While there hasn’t been any formal retraction of this policy, there have been a few higher profile cases lately where penalties and suspensions were obviously given out for the severity of the penalty, not the injury (like Scott Nichols’ 5-game suspension for a stupid cross-check that caused only a nosebleed).

Best case yet is Chris Simon’s record breaking 30-game suspension (breaking his own record 25-game suspension from last year). He intentionally stomped on the foot of Jarkko Ruutu (with a sharp skate blade on his foot, remember) while Ruutu was down. Miraculously Ruutu was not injured at all on the play, but he could have been seriously. The NHL’s statement says it best:

“While fortunate, Mr. Ruutu suffered no serious injury as a result of Chris Simon’s actions, the deliberate act of kicking an opponent with a skate blade, especially when that opponent is in a vulnerable position, is and always has been a repugnant and totally unacceptable act in the game of hockey.”

That’s two good suspensions in a row for unacceptable behavior. Let’s hope this translates to the minor/double-minor/major calls on the ice for an otherwise decent check or a minor trip that turns into a fluke injury.

Preds Sign Blum

In Hockey, Sports on December 14, 2007 at 10:21 pm

In more Preds minor league/prospect news, Eklund is “reporting” that we just signed our draft pick Jonathan Blum to a three year deal. Blum was our first round pick last year (23rd overall), and is yet another strong defensive prospect. He’s another one “puck-moving” defensmen (as opposed to the ones that sit on the puck?) with a penchant for offense. Right now he’s just 160lbs, but he stands 6’0″ and is just 18 years old, so hopefully he’ll fill out and become a more physical presence. He’s from Long Beach, CA (that’s California, not Canada), a great hockey town (that’s for you, Mirtle). He’s been playing in Vancouver of the WHL for a couple of years.

Good stuff.

the mullet is called up

In Hockey, Sports on December 14, 2007 at 3:32 pm

The Preds just called up forward Antti Pihlstrom from the Admirals. That’s right. The man/boy with the best mullet in camp this summer (pictured at right), who was a star in Finland last year, has been called up. My big question: is this a reaction to the poor play of our current players? An offensive shot in the arm? Or is this just a chance for Antti (to be called “Pihlly”?) to sit on the bench and be ready in case someone else falls victim to the flu? Or worst of all, is Erat out for a while?

There has been some discussion around the forums and other blogs lately that since Sully will be gone for a while, the Preds need an offensive shot in the arm. A trade or some other shakeup to get things going.

Pihlstrom has been having a very strong year in Milwalkee and from what i saw at camp, is a Radulov-esque offensive firecracker. High energy, shoot first attitude, but not as reckless as Hornqvist still looks. The fact that they are calling up Pihlstrom and not Peverly or other forwards with more NHL experience tells me that Poile is looking for production and spark, not just safe reliability.

I like it :-)

smack talk

In Blog Stuff, Hockey, Sports on December 10, 2007 at 2:05 pm

I just had to point out that Able to Yzerman just handed out some major smack talk to Preds fans. Actually a pretty well written, funny entry from an objective point of view.

Fantasy Hockey Update

In Hockey, Sports on December 10, 2007 at 11:22 am

Just wanted to post a quick update on my Fantasy Hockey league.

Pulled a quick stats analysis for everyone. Basically this shows the totals for all stat categories for everyone currently on all rosters (averages, not totals for the GAA and SV% categories). Just a quick, sloppy view of where everyone’s strengths and weaknesses are. Of course, Starcats and Rebel Mandos are both carrying 4 goalies and Ice Holes just has 2, so the win totals are a little skewed, but this gives the general idea.

Should point out the need for a few trades… hum?

Full sheet available here if this view doesn’t work for you.

Just a reminder, here’s the cast of players:

Rebel Mandos: Kevin Peters
Ice Holes: Paul McCann
Novice — Fresh Meat: Kevin Hicks
Fab Forecheckers: Dirk Hoag (aka “The Forechecker“>
Preds: Paul Nicholson (me!)
Disastros: David Carlson
PuckNtheMouth: Brandon Felder
PredHeads: Ryan Cassell
Nashvegas Starcats: Christy Nicholson (aka HockeyWife)
Old School Blues: Gary Nicholson

oh the shame

In Funny, Hockey, Sports on December 10, 2007 at 9:41 am

T.J. Hensick and Marek Svatos have got to be going through some real self-reflection time right now. Their team, the Colorado Avalanche dropped 9…NINE goals on the St Louis Blues last night. But somehow, in their 9 and 12 minutes of ice time (respectively) they managed to end up -1 for the game. Now, granted, Colorado also gave up 5 goals to a powerful Blues team, it was a crazy shootout. But still. When you’re team finishes with 9 goals, ending the game -1 just looks silly.

Note: For the non-hockey fans among readers, the plus/minus rating is a hockey stat that measures the team goal differential when a specific player is on the ice. If a player is on the ice when his team scores (even strength or short handed) they get +1. If they are on the ice when their team is scored on (even strength or power play) they get -1.

Free beer! (and sodas)

In Hockey, Nashville, Sports on December 9, 2007 at 12:17 am


New Preds owner David Freeman just walked through section 303, shook everyone’s hand, thanked them for supporting the team, and passed out coupons for free beer or soda. This guy knows what he’s doing. Not sure if Craig Leipold is gonna join us up here for the game again or not. There is definately a buzz in the arena. First official game with the new owners.

ok…here it goes

In History/Politics, Hockey, Nashville, Sports on December 6, 2007 at 8:55 am

This is something i’ve thought about for a long time, but never posted, mostly out of fear of a ‘sensitive’ issue. Very few people do talk about it. But Kukla’s Korner just linked to someone else talking about it, so i figured i’d chime in:

I have often wondered about the lack of minority players playing at least a partial role in hockey not being as quickly adopted in the southern (particularly south-east) US. When i go to games in Nashville, the vast majority of fans in the stands are all white. Like 98.5%. Meanwhile Titans games and other sports in town draw just about equally from the black and white communities. In cities where there is a large minority population (in some cases they are the vast majority, in fact) it makes an “all-white” sport a tough draw, economics aside. I wish it didn’t, but i think it does. I’ve often wondered if the Preds would start drawing better if they traded for Ray Emery, Anson Carter, or maybe even Mike Grier (i’d love to have Jarome Iginla, but i don’t think that’s going to happen).

Outside of just the local team draw, i think the lack of diversity impacts the overall appeal nationwide. Many sports right now are heavily promoted/influenced/marketed with “black culture”.

A friend of mine (who is black) told me he just got season tickets for the Preds. He was amazed. He’d never seen hockey live before and has absolutely fallen in love. He said he grew up watching nothing but football and basketball. He’d just never been exposed to it. I don’t think that much is unique to him being black, just growing up in Nashville. But what i think is more unique is that, for those little kids who are 9 or 10 growing up…they look for role models. People they can relate to but want to emulate. Right now, as much as he may enjoy watching a game, there aren’t a whole lot players for a 9-year old black kid growing up in Nashville or Atlanta to relate to.

I’m not saying hockey is doing it on purpose. I’m not saying that hockey can’t succeed as it is now. But i really think that hockey would have a huge boost, especially in the southern US, if they could increase the minority presence. Many teams (the Preds included) are starting to run hockey programs for kids that can’t afford it. The more accessible they can make it, the better. How might things look different if someone like Lebron James had decided he wanted to be the next Wayne Gretzky, not the next Michael Jordan.

Ok. There. I said it.
Let the flame wars begin…

new place to watch games

In East Nashville, Entertainment, Hockey, Sports on December 5, 2007 at 10:49 pm

Well, Beyond the Edge apparently did decide to pick up the Center Ice package after all! They just posted yesterday on MySpace that they would have the game on (against Montreal) and had subscribed to the package. I wish they had gone non-smoking, but i understand why they didn’t. It was really amazing, earlier this year Christy and i called around to a ton of places trying to find someplace that had Center Ice and didn’t allow smoking. After a while we just tried to find someplace that had Center Ice. The only place we could find was Sam’s Place in Hillsboro Village. We’d never been there and it was pretty cool. Nicer than most sports bars i’ve ever been to, though we were stuck watching the game on a small TV in the corner that night since it was a big college football night. But this will be waaaay nicer being able to watch the game 1) on the big screen 2) much closer to home and 3) with our good friend Josef (the manager) who is also a big Preds fan and will yell and high-five us when they we score :-)

crime and punishment

In Hockey, Sports on December 3, 2007 at 10:39 pm
The NHL just handed down the suspension for Scott Nichol’s cross check to the face of Patrice Brisebois the other night. 5 games. I guess that’s about right, though I expected less and would have been ok with more.

What was particularly interesting to me about this, was the statement by Colin Campble, NHL disciplinarian (VP of Operations). His statement read: “The crosscheck by Mr. Nichol to the head area of his opponent was reckless and dangerous. Although no serious injury resulted, the action is unacceptable.”

Interesting. I am a little confused though. I’ve ranted about the punishment fitting the crime not the injury in the NHL before, but this year the league has outright stated that punishments will be doled out in accordance to the severity of the injury (if any).

But this situation has me confused. I figured Nichol would get a game or two since there was very little injury (a small cut on his chin). I think the action deserved a 7 game suspension if not quite a bit more (in light of the 20+ game suspensions for some sketchy hits during the course of play earlier this year). And a 5 game suspension gets handed down. And the comments go with them… I’m not sure if Nichol got of easy because there wasn’t an injury, or if these comments should lead us to believe he got a stronger penalty because of his actions, not the injury.

Either way, i know Horichuck doesn’t have the (occasional) defensive smarts and penalty killing that Nichol has, but i’ll be glad to see him in and Nichol out for a while. Nichol’s a decent player, but he’s gotta stop doing idiotic stuff like this or he’s going to cost his team big time when it comes to the playoffs… oh wait…he already did last year.

NHL BoG Approves Preds Sale and New Schedule

In Hockey, Nashville, Sports on November 29, 2007 at 7:13 pm

Looks like Nashville hockey fans have two things to be happy about.
104.5 is reporting (that TSN is reporting) that the NHL Board of Governors has approved the sale of the Predators to the “local” group. Despite my recent criticisms, i strongly believe this is a very good thing, particularly in light of the recent comments about a push for promotion off the ice byt he about-to-be-owners.

The BoG have apparently also approved a new schedule format that will mean 6 games against each divisional opponent (3 home, 3 away), 4 against each conference foes (2/2), 1 game against opposite conference teams (could be home, could be away), plus a few random games against other opponents. The wild card games i particularly like. As i understand it, it gives the opportunity for out-of-division and out-of-conference rivals (like Colorado and Detroit) to play just a little more often if they want.

And after 2 periods the Preds are up 3-2 and JP Dumont (on my fantasy roster) has 1 goal and 2 assists. The Preds won 6-5 in a crazy shootout. Wow. Best of all, between JP Dumont and Martin Erat i got 2 goals, 5 assists, +2, 9 shots, and 2 short handed points for my fantasy team this week. Thanks boys! :-)

preds breakdown

In Hockey, Sports on November 28, 2007 at 8:06 pm

Just wanted to point everyone over to Forechecker, who just posted a great analysis of the Preds first 1/4 of a season.

(I just realized the title of this post could be totally misinterpreted a very pessimistic post. I hope no one thinks that. I think we’re doing really well, actually.)

That is all.

proof it wasn’t a dream

In Funny, Hockey, Pictures, Sports, Videos on November 26, 2007 at 9:02 pm

Some of you who know me and have heard me talk about the Predators, have heard me tell the story about the night the Predators Flying Tiger (seen in its normal state here) got stuck in the rafters at a playoff game. It was actually the first every home playoff game for the Preds on April 11th, 2004 (a game we won handily by the way).

Basically what happened was this: The Flying Tiger was doing its usual thing, flying around and dropping passes for free stuff to fans. Then all of a sudden the crew directed it down over the ice, which it never does. They flew it lower and lower until someone went out on the ice and grabbed its “tail” (mooring cable i think) and began to lead it gingerly to the zamboni entrance floating about 6 feet above the ice. Then, all of a sudden, the whole fan/motor system on the bottom just fell off. Of course, all the weight of the fans, batteries, etc was the ballast for the balloon, and now it weighed far too little. The keeper holding the cable was unprepared and the whole thing shot straight up in the air and jerked the cable out of his hand. It flew straight up and jammed itself in the catwalk and remained there for the rest of the evening (probably a great view from there actually).

Well, i was just digging through a whole bunch of old pictures in my archive folders, and i stumbled upon video that i actually shot of the occasion on my old Sony Clie UX50. It’s not pretty, but it’s proof! You can definitely see the Flying Tiger motionless at the top of the arena, stuck in the rafters above the ice.

So here ya go. Enjoy!

Predators Flying Tiger stuck in the rafters from Paul Nicholson on Vimeo.

Apologies to fantasy sports owners

In Funny, Hockey, Sports on November 15, 2007 at 9:24 pm

Fantasy sports players (any sport, not just hockey) need to watch this video. Now. Just the beginning. Don’t have to watch the whole thing. If you don’t want to or can’t watch the video, you can check this summary here.

Finally! ..or not

In Hockey, Nashville, Sports on November 14, 2007 at 10:44 am

It looks like our long national municipal nightmare frustration is over.

UPDATE: It isn’t. I’m leaving the rest of this post up, but though the city has put forth it’s “final” offer, the local ownership group hasn’t signed off on it. So, no press conference…return to your holding pattern.

This is really getting old.

The Preds and the City are announcing a deal this afternoon. Thanks to the Nashville Post, we have the agreement in hand already.

I still have huge reservations about this deal as it is laid out in this document. The Preds can leave after just 3 years if they lose $20mil during that time ($6.6mil a year) and attendance is under 14,000 per game (the statement doesn’t specify if that is 14,000 average over all three years, or if they average under 14,000 for any time during those 3 years…or just during the last year). There is also a stipulation that the city will be paid back all of the many concessions and incentives they are paying the team if the team does leave.

So if you want to keep the Preds here past 3 years, it still comes down to attendance. Normally i would say that with this new, energized ownership group (and hopefully firing Steve Violetta) hitting attendance marks will be easy. But my faith that this ownership group is really going to be a knight in shining armor and be much better than Leipold are starting to waiver. It really won’t take much to get attendance up. I just overheard more co-workers talking and one mentioned the Preds game tomorrow night – the other responded with “they’re playing again, didn’t their season just end. I’ll have to go to a game”. Much work to do, but so much of it is so easy. We’ll see if the ownership group chooses to invest in those simple efforts, or let the team languish…

The most troubling element of this to me is that it takes a 30 year lease (with 20 years left on it) that would keep the team here as long as they hit 14,000 attendance at least once every 3 years and turns it into a lease that allows them to leave after 5 years – regardless of attendance – and allows them to leave after (theoretically) only one year of under 14,000 attendance.

Had any owner stepped up and supported the team with any marketing campaign, the team would have to stay. They could lose money and be on the salary floor every year, but they would have to stay as long as tickets were bough. Under the new agreement, they can leave after only 5 more years, potentially after 3.

(Conspiracy theories in 3…2…1…) I’m begining to wonder if the new “ownership” group didn’t get in over their heads, get taken over by outside interest, who then worked a deal with politicians on the inside to make it look like they were saving the team, and in reality are moving it after 5 years (roughly the amount of time it will take to get an NHL caliber arena built in any city that doesn’t have one…like…Hamilton, Ontario). Man i hope i’m wrong. I really really do.

I’m just glad the team on the ice has things turned around. This could turn out to be a very good year.

Seeing Red

In Hockey, Sports on November 7, 2007 at 8:31 pm

Preds were absolutely robbed tonight. The Wings played well, but that game should have been 4-2 Preds. 2 goals taken off the boards just kills ya. The refs just blew it. As my dad said: “Isn’t the NHL supposed to be the league with the best replay officiating options, that never misses a scoring call?” But they blew the plays dead not once, but twice, right as the Preds scored. Either of those goals count, and the game is very, very different.

Best part: we made it a game anyway. The game was 2-0 and the Wings were clearly satisfied with letting that be the final score. I don’t think anyone would have been surprised if the Preds were as well, especially with plenty of excuses to make for how they should have won. But they played through it and stayed after it and played harder in the third than in the first, which is hard to do against Detroit. Shows a lot of character and the type that this team is absolutely going to need if they are to have any success. We’ll be coming from behind far more this year than we did last.

Mason was fabulous in the game, but looked slow (tired) in the shoot out. Before the game i told my wife that i’d almost rather see a 1-0 or 2-1 loss than a 7-5 win. I wanted to see a good, responsible, disciplined hockey game and that’s what we got the vast majority of the time. Mason was outstanding in net all night, and i think that the game was a solid boost in confidence he needed. I just hope he doesn’t take the shootout loss too hard and too personally. He could have done better in the shootout, but after facing 45 shots, killing off a 4-3 through overtime, and with Holmstrom logging as much time in the crease as Mason through the game, i don’t blame him for being less than sharp by the time the shootout came around.
But hey, i’ll take the point for OT.

Predators Deal Done?

In Hockey, Nashville, Sports on November 7, 2007 at 12:44 pm

The Hockey News is reporting that the deal between the new ownership group and the city is a done deal, just waiting for sign-offs from all the councils and authorities needed.

Why am i not jumping for joy?
While the new agreement supposedly says the Preds will get the funds from the city, and upgrades to the arena that they wanted, they only have to stay in town for the next three years. They do have to stay for the next three years, no matter what, but after that, not even attendance can keep them in town.

Right now this sounds like a horrible deal. As optimistic as i am, i think the Predators are at best still 5-8 years away from real profitability. Which means in 3 years the new owners can just up and run, and nothing can stop them…if this report is correct. This is a very short, very spotty article that i don’t completely trust. So we’ll see…

UPDATE: The Tennessean is reporting that the Mayor’s office has denied any deal as being “done” – they are still working. Hopefully that’s a good thing.

fan frustration

In Blog Stuff, Hockey, Nashville, Sports, Videos on October 30, 2007 at 9:06 pm

Preds lose another tough one. Put 40 shots on net, you expect more than one to go in. but from what I saw (the later two periods) the Flames did a good job of limiting the Preds real quality scoring chances. In the 3rd we finally had some spark, but it wasn’t enough to compensate for a horrible 2nd period that was full of turnovers and shots from the point with no rebound.

The rough part of this is that a lot of Preds fans, unable to watch the game, will probably be coming down hard on Chris Mason when they see the box score. I hope Pete and Terry were singing his praises because the defense left him out to dry. Repeatedly. The final two goals in particular were 100% Greg deVries’ fault. They were both breakaways to begin with, and deVries just escorted the Calgary players down the slot, not playing the shooter or the pass. Just skating through, looking confused, and letting passes go between his legs. Mason never had a prayer on either goal. The Calgary TV crew kept talking about how great Mason was playing all night, and repeatedly compared the Predators to Calgary’s experience last year – a hard working team that deserved to win more games, but were being stoned by a hot goalie.

I just hope we can get things along on the right track soon.

In less specific hockey news from around the world…

Here’s what the game looked like for me last night:


I was once again watching online. Can’t see the players numbers, much less the puck most of the time. But at least I could roughly see what was going on. Better than Pete and Terry’s “simulcast” stuff. The site i get my feeds from has just been redone, so here’s the new link for NHL feeds.

Also, I just got added to the blog roll for the 2 Man Advantage. A really funny blog/show put out by a couple of hardcore hockey fans up in New York. Fun stuff. These guys are crazy hockey nuts (especially for NY teams, but they aren’t real bad “homers”). Very funny videos. ESPN and Fox Sports Net had better be watching these guys, because they are putting out better content than most pro hockey shows i’ve seen lately. If you’ve never seen them, i advise you check this out as a good example. They are funny, irreverent, but have somehow managed to get interviews with NHL players, gotten into camps, and done interviews with former NHL GM’s. The longer they go, the bigger their rep will grow and i have a feeling they could well have a special segment during someone’s coverage of the playoffs/finals this year. Well, if someone decent covered the games anyway.

Lastly, All hockey fans need to go check this guy out right now. He has somehow managed to figure out a way (and amass the money) to see all 30 NHL teams play a home game in 30 days. 30 Nights, 30 cities, 30 teams, 30 games. Wow. He’s just a few games in so far. He’s coming to Nashville on Thanksgiving night to see the Preds play Detroit (remarkably, the only time he will see the Preds play during the whole 30 days). Of course, he has a blog going to cover the trip. I also love that he’s from Orlando.

Lastly, there’s apparently some news about a potential new financier from Canada coming in to help out the “local” group trying to buy the Preds (which is looking less and less local). Interesting. At this point, i just hope the drama ends soon. Heck, i’d take Balsillie owning the team at this point if it just meant the uncertainty would be over and the team could get itself together on the ice. I really think the off-ice elements are effecting the on-ice product. Trotz’s job, trades, waiver moves, call-ups…with us at the salary-floor it really limits what Poile can do and what the options are for the on-ice product. Not to mention the absolutely horrendous lack of marketing (waaay worse than it usually was, and that’s saying something) is killing attendance. The only thing filling the building even to the 12-15k we’ve been seeing is word-of-mouth and 104.5 FM’s efforts to keep promoting the team. It really won’t take much to give this team a major shot in the arm (on and off the ice), if only the ownership deal can get settled.

pic of the week

In Hockey, Pictures, Sports on October 29, 2007 at 8:02 am
This is, by far, the picture of the week year so far for the Preds.
(Original found here)
The expression on the Panther player’s face, Vokoun lying flat on his back, and the celebration of the Predators players. Great stuff.

bi-polar hockey

In Hockey, Sports on October 26, 2007 at 10:06 am

The Preds game last night was certainly a bit better. Still quite a bit of sloppy play, especially late in the 1st. Still a ton of chances left lying on the doorstep because no one was at home in front of the net. Plenty more occasions where we had great chances with the puck up front, but couldn’t finish (pictured at the right). I’ll grant you, Hedberg played well, but not amazing. We are still just not finishing the way a winning team should.

But so much was improved.

The defense was checking hard (Hamuis was involved in more than one hard hitting, body sacrificing play, which i haven’t seen from him as much). I especially loved Hammer’s check at the blue-line (pictured at left). That’s building a wall!

I also loved how Erat was playing with Dumont and Arnott. Not just that he was playing with them, which i thought a good combo, but the way he was playing. More than once i thought it was Legwand out there, the way he was playing an aggressive but smart, positional forecheck. If he’d just put that puck in the net instead of off the post, i think everyone would be calling him out for a great game as well as Toots and Smithson, who played like first-liners…well, up against the sieve-like 2nd and 3rd Atlanta defensive pairings. But hey, we’ll take it!

Win is a win. It felt great.

Ellis played really well, but i think more importantly, the team played better in front of him. Just like they used to do with Mason compared to Vokoun last year, the team seemed to play more intelligent, especially on defense, when playing in front of “the backup”. It’s amazing how much of it is still mental for this team. I do not envy Trotz the decision of going with Ellis (who is confident and hot) or Mason (get his confidence back and fulfill the “Mason vs Vokoun” billing for the big game) for the game against Florida.

Last note about the on-ice product:
We have two versions of the Predators. One that wins and wins big, and one that loses and loses big.

Our total Goals For / Goals Against per game for the year is 2.3 / 3.3. Doesn’t look too horrible and is about what you’d expect (or better) from a team that is 3-6-0. However, if you check our GF/GA per game for wins, it is 4/0.3. That is dominant hockey! We’ve only allowed 1 goal in our 3 wins. That’s great! Trouble is our losses. GF/GA per game is 1.5/4.8 there. Ouch. We’re giving up nearly 5 goals a game in our losses.

Normally i would look at those stats and say they are indicative of a young, inexperienced team. But we’re supposed to have more age and experience this year than last. What gives? Also, we supposedly got bigger and stronger during the off-season. But we still rank 27th out of 30th in the league in overall size (height/weight). That isn’t going to get it done if we’re trying to play more physical, grind-style hockey this year.


A few other random notes from the game:
The big new screen is now apparently being called the “Megatron” (capital M?). Paul McCann and the rest of the arena crew called it that multiple times last night. I don’t know of this is a Hasbro/Paramount sponsorship, or just a cheesy name. There’s even a new feature video about it up on Predators TV (i haven’t seen it yet, streaming video is blocked at work). I think it sounds a little silly, but i don’t know what else to call it…so fine.

What is not fine is that the crew i called out for doing such a good job of paying attention to aspect ratios has now either been replaced or gotten dumb. All the videos all night were stretched to fill the width of the screen. Now, i know there are a lot of bumpkins out there that probably complain about “those black bars at the side of the screen, it ain’t workin’ right”. But now the videos look bad. Those bumpkins can watch Seinfeld re-runs in ‘fat’ stretch mode all they want on their $899 plasma’s at home, but please don’t make me watch it that way at the arena. Especially for videos that are actually wide-aspect to begin with (like movie clips) – crop the videos! Don’t just stretch them so we have a fat Gnash and a tiny little strip of Matthew Broderick in the middle of black bars. Cummon people, this is your job and i can do it better as a hobby. If you need me to do it for you, send me the videos at my gmail account and i’d be glad to reformat them to 16:9 for you with the correct cropping/scaling so that everything looks nice.

Also, we apparently are losing sponsors right and left. We’ve picked up a few (most notably the Signature Tower), but we’ve also lost quite a few. It is no longer the “Fantastik Fan of the Game” it is the “fan of the night”. No longer is the second Zamboni painted like Scrubbing Bubbles – now it’s just a Predator Zamboni. We no longer have the “Windex Seats on the Glass” (movin’ on up!) where they took people from the upper decks to seats on the glass. Most importantly, the free tacos from Taco Bell at the 5-goal mark are gone! (thanks to HordyHsrHar for the reminder- i knew i left something out!) I’ve also listened to several games that were on Lightning 100 with nothing but music during ‘commerical’ breaks. They didn’t have commercials to fill the air time. Partially i blame that on Lightning 100′s sales department, but it proves there is still not a line of sponsors waiting to be associated with the Preds. Not a good sign and something that needs to be turned around quickly.

There is also just no promotion or advertising off the ice going on at all. I overheard someone walking down the hall at work the other day asking someone if they were going to the Preds game Thurs. They replied “Nah. I thought they were going to move in 6 months anyway, weren’t they?” This team is in desperate need of off-ice support and a major PR campaign, but there is no way Leipold is putting another dime into this team, on the ice or off. Contract/negotiation periods aside, this team needs new owners who can come in tell the city that the Preds are here, they are staying, and they are exciting and worth coming to see. Not just “worth supporting” like something on welfare, but worth spending money on as great family entertainment.

frustration

In Entertainment, Hockey, Sports on October 24, 2007 at 2:46 pm

Interesting note from LA Kings/HockeyBuzz blogger Carla Muller, who was at the game last night:

One of the more unique events of the night actually happened off the ice. I am not trying to diminish the Kings’ strong dominating game, not at all. Nonetheless, in the stands, a over zealous Predators’ fan was behind that team’s bench and appeared to the person in front of me with binoculars that he tried to climb over the glass at his own team… ouch!

Security moved this individual away from the bench and that proved to be a bad choice. A fight broke out between this guy who started shouting “Lets go Predators”. Peanuts were tossed only to be followed by fisticuffs, five security people in red blazers and his female friend following when she joined the melee by throwing a beer in the stands… Double ouch!

That about sums up my frustration. When i go to the game on Thurs night, i’m really just hoping for a score and solid play. A win would be pure bonus.

As for all these asking for Trotz’s head… I can’t argue that too much, but i wouldn’t hold your breath.

  1. Trotz has been around for so long, it will take more than this to get him fired (though not much)
  2. The Thrashers are already looking to hire a coach, so trying to find a new coach in this market would be rougher than usual – can we improve over Trotz right now?
  3. I don’t see Poile/Leipold firing the coach just before a new owner steps in (whoever that turns out to be.

Lastly, a note regarding watching games: I don’t have cable at home, and since FoxSouth/104.5 went back to “simulcasting” games (read: putting TV audio on the radio) i can’t really follow the action on the radio. So…enter the wonders of the internet. And no, i don’t mean the NHL’s new online Center Ice package that blacks out the majority of my local team’s games. No, i’m watching online over live P2P broadcasting services using Sopcast and streams found here: http://www.myp2p.eu/NHL.htm

The really interesting thing about this is that most of these end up being the local Fox Sports for the other team. Occasionally it is the Preds feed, but for the last several games i’ve been listening to the Kings/Ducks feeds. It’s been very interesting hearing the other side of things. And i gotta say: as great as Pete and Terry are, FoxSports South is a dinky 2-bit operation compared to FoxSports LA. They have a studio they go back to with a talking head for replays during intermission, the works. Good stuff. I suggest watching the “other” feed once and a while once in a while.

Vote Preds

In History/Politics, Hockey, Nashville, Sports on October 16, 2007 at 10:19 am

What he said. And he said.

Go vote on WMSV’s poll asking if the Preds should stay or not.

Not that this poll matters a hill of beans, but it’s easy to do. Why not. Go vote.

You’re kidding, right?

In Hockey, Nashville, Sports on October 12, 2007 at 12:48 pm

It isn’t April Fools. The site isn’t The Onion.

But this has got to be a joke:

The Research In Motion co-CEO is the owner of a group that has approached the NHL team with an offer to buy it if the deal with the current bidders fails.

According to a letter sent to Nashville’s Metro Sports Authority, Balsillie is now committed to keeping the team in Nashville and winning a Stanley Cup there.

The letter also states that Balsillie’s understanding of the Nashville market earlier this year was “incorrect.”

The Nashville Post has a story about it too.

They say:

The Research In Motion chairman made a proposal that wouldn’t change the Sommet Center’s lease terms for the benefit of the team. In fact, he offered to substantially increase the penalty for terminating the license agreement.

And later, quotes an article from Balsillie’s new Nashville-based spokesman for the issue:

He is now committed to Nashville as a viable hockey market, one in which he strongly desires to own a franchise; and that he will commit the resources that are necessary to lead to a Stanley Cup for the Predators and Nashville. He is also keenly aware of the recent outpouring of support of the Predators by the community, and our concrete expressions that hockey and the Predators are important to Nashville. Along these lines, Jim has assured me that he would welcome, but not require, local partners as a part of the ownership team

Now, don’t get me wrong. I said way back when Balsillie first made the offer and hadn’t shown what most would call his “true colors” (by being a jerk and starting to sell tickets for the team in Hamilton, Ontario), i was bullish on the idea of a guy who was this passionate about hockey and had pockets this deep. He will be a great owner for whatever team he ends up with eventually. I would like that to be my team. I just want it to be in Nashville.

At this point, he’d have to forgo the “out” clause in the lease with the city entirely and lock himself with no options before anyone in Nashville would believe that he has suddenly “seen the light”. Nashville would have to tread very very carefully here. Make sure Balsillie can’t just yank the team. But if they can…

I still think beyond having an owner with passion and deep pockets, the Preds would still do well by cashing in on Del Biaggio’s connections to AEG and forming ties with the group to manage the arena. It would mean more events and more profitability for the franchise/arena/city.

Most of all, i just wish people would quit jerking us around. I am fully convinced that the low attendance to date is largely due to the ownership mess being up in the air. Get that settled and fans will get behind this team (win or lose). Apparently Balsillie sees that now… maybe.

The other thing worth mentioning here, is that the local group is still the only one that can negotiate with current owner Craig Leipold. This new communication has actually been made to the city, as Leipold can’t talk with anyone else until the end of October. Shrewed way of getting the message out there without going around the contract. I think Balsillie may be learning after all.

UPDATE:
The Predators just released this statement: “We are committed to completing the sale of the Nashville Predators to David Freeman and his investor group.”


On a slightly different, but related note:

When we were at the Dallas Stars game the other week, we sat in front of two guys from Toronto. This isn’t the first time we’ve sat near guys from Toronto, down to watch a game. They loved it, and just like everyone else from up north that has come to see the Preds play, were in awe at the fans chants, support, yelling, and generally making things fun. Apparently they just sit on their hands and watch the game in Toronto (until they start yelling for the goalie’s job in the pre-season). Anyway – turns out these guys happen to be NHL refs, down to do a few games. It was a unique experience to say the least. I also got to talk to them about the injury = match penalty issue. They said the league felt 9and apparently they agreed) that most NHL refs had been around long enough to know when a guy was faking an injury. I still don’t buy it.

Good times.

New Feed Options

In Blog Stuff, Cool Tech, Hockey, Me, Sports on October 6, 2007 at 9:41 am

So, i just realized that in addition to the normal RSS/Atom feed services that Blogger provides, there are also feeds just for certain labels (the subject keywords i tag posts with).

The practical upshot of this, is that it solves my problem of really running two blogs here. One (which is the majority of posts) is about sports (mostly hockey). The rest us just my random ramblings about cool technology stuff, movies, or whatever.

Well now all those who just want to read the terribly wonderful and insightful things i have to share about sports, but don’t want to know about the latest cool items on thinkgeek.com can just subscribe here.

http://feeds.feedburner.com/blogspot/GeekThoughtsSports

(I also added the link down on the left-hand column).

To be clear for those who don’t know how these things work: Don’t worry, my normal feed will still include the sports stuff. If you subscribe to the main one already, you don’t need to subscribe to the new sports feed. It’s for people who only care to know when i post things about sports.

Enjoy!

the other part of the show

In Entertainment, Hockey, Nashville, Pictures, Sports on October 5, 2007 at 10:59 am

(Sorry for the long post, especially about something this trivial. But hey, it’s me)

In addition to being a big hockey fan, i am a media/marketing/entertainment geek. I also have a painful attention to detail sometimes (I say this not as a boast, but…well…”it’s a blessing and a curse”). Combine these two and…well…I study things like the videos and entertainment packages at the Preds games waaaay more closely than they are intended to be studied. Oh well. I am what i am.

Anyway, here’s what I noticed last night.

Quick mention: Lots of really cool new graphics that we didn’t see during the pre-season. New filler animations, Power Play animations, Goal animations, “Preds Win” animations, and “Thanks for Attending” animations. Also new “Kiss Cam” graphics, though these seem pretty plain. I’m guessing those will be tweaked in the near future.

There were also a few changes around the arena. The column at the attack twice end that used to be painted like a giant can of Edge shaving cream is now painted with the Signature Tower on it (the soon-to-be mega-sky-scraper that is planned for Church Street downtown). The Signature Tower also sponsored the t-shirts we were given last night. The interesting thing is that not only has the Signature Tower not been built yet, but it is years away and may not even happen. They are having trouble selling the last set of apartments needed to secure financing, etc. But apparently they are going to be huge sponsors of the Preds this year, which is great (for both i think). They are enough of a sponsor that the new opening video now features the as-yet unbuilt tower, but i’ll get to that in a second.

First, there’s a nice new opening video (that I tried to record and goofed for some reason and didn’t catch…I’ll see if I can get it on Sat) with all the players and cool highlights. Very nice video, very well done. Really hypes the crowd.

That then transitioned into the new Intro video (which i did record and will upload soon). It’s basically the same as previous years…hockey players representing other teams land on the frozen Cumberland River (they now arrive in meteor format, not skating down the river, and they don’t beat up the General Jackson) and a Big Cat/Predator (is that considered Gnash?) comes into downtown and beats them up, then climbs up to the top of a building and roars. Only now it climbs the Bellsouth/AT&T/Batman building (like it used to), and from there it jumps up to the Signature Tower and climbs it (picture on the right). Kinda cool really. Funny thing is, they don’t have the new Bass Berry and Sims building visible in the shots around downtown, even though it is actually being built right now and is quite close to the arena (picture on the left, above). You also can’t see the Signature Tower in the background of the long shots of downtown (picture on the left, below). Only in the close-up final shot when the Predator is climbing it. I am sure while the organization is putting things together they may think of some of these things but think “nah, no one will notice that, it’s just on the screen for half a second”. Sorry guys.

There was also a new concession stand on the lower level I had never seen before, and they are apparently remodeling some of the concession stands on the lower and upper levels. I’m interested to see what’s going in there (they better get them finished soon!). I was surprised that they weren’t finished for opening night.

All in all the new arena experience is great. The franchise is very much moving in the right direction.

Oh yeah – and the Predators played AWESOME.
Mason was great. Defense played well. I could really tell the experience of our youngsters combined with the new veterans meant much more responsible, positional hockey. Very few times did the Avalanche get any really strong scoring chances and those were mostly in the 1st period. The power play clicked on the first go, though later attempts didn’t look too strong. As my wife called it, the “power play kill”. Lots of work to do there, but if we get anything close to that effort on a consistent basis (which I think is more likely again, due to the young players having yet another year under their belts and the new vets) we’ll be just fine this year.

It’s Game Time!

In Hockey on October 4, 2007 at 4:02 pm


It’s Game Time!

Let the games begin

In Blog Stuff, Hockey, Me, Sports on October 3, 2007 at 5:57 pm

After a pretty crazy summer of following the news about the Predators purchase/sale/lease/contracts/etc. i am burned out. Done.

And boy am i glad that hockey season is finally really upon us.

As of now, i am no longer going to go out of my way to post updates about the off-ice business of the team. I’ll still be reading the news, so if something burns me up or gets me excited (like an actual sale going through) i’ll post about it i’m sure. But in the meantime, the only play by play you’re going to get from me is game related.

The product is on the ice. I’m going to support the team this year, hope they stay for next, and just watch hockey.

I want the Predators to stay because i really like watching hockey and love my Preds. I’m going to do what the players need to do and not let the distractions off the ice get in my way of doing my job – yelling myself hoarse at games and spending far too many nights up late listening to the radio or watching them at Beyond the Edge (which i really hope is smoke free) .

Go Preds!

And to that effect, if you haven’t watched this, go check it out: Predators Snapshot (a 20 min intro video/show for this season).

Predators Marketing

In East Nashville, Hockey, Nashville, Pictures, Sports on September 29, 2007 at 9:03 am

Caught this on the phone pole at 5-Points in East Nashville. Sign reads “IF YOU LIVE IT THEY WILL STAY. 10/4/07 IT BEGINS”. And it lists www.nashvillepredators.com, www.savethepredators.com, and www.ourteamnashville.com

I’m not sure if this is official from the Predators or not. If it is – wow, amazing, awesome, and it’s about dang time.

Unfortunately i’m pretty sure this is an unauthorized fan creation. Either way, great to see.

Predators Breakfast Report

In Blog Stuff, Hockey, Sports on September 26, 2007 at 9:30 am

Rob over at Thinktrain just put up a great post on the breakfast held this morning to foster support for the Predators from the business community. The mayor showed up, and it sounds like everyone is really approaching this in a mature, pragmatic way. They know it’s “just” a sports team and that the business community doesn’t owe the team anything – but that Nashville is a better place with the team than without. Go check it out.

Preds vs Thrashers with Video!

In Hockey, Pictures, Sports, Videos on September 21, 2007 at 7:23 am

Here it is, video of our awesome new scoreboard. Wow. This thing is amazingly sharp and huge!!! I think it must be even higher than HD resolution (1920×1080). It looked amazingly sharp, even right up close. That’s the other thing – it is so huge that it looks up close no matter where you are.

Best of all, replays are actually worth something. You can actually see the puck! For some reason the horn/music after goals was off all night. Hope they get that fixed soon. Ditto for the shot counter. It was off all night (3 shots to 5 in the 1st, 0 to 0 in the 2nd, 6 to 2 again in the 3rd…).

Here’s the video!

Nashville Predators new scoreboard from Paul Nicholson on Vimeo.

For all my friends behind firewalls, you can download the mpeg2 video here.

Also got a bit of video of the one fight. Tootoo and McCarthy did more than just scrum. McCarthy had Tootoo down and was wailing on him, the refs were moving in to break it up, just about then Tootoo regained his feet, and body slammed McCarthy over his shoulder, then started wailing on him. That dude is strong.

Jordin Tootoo bodyslams the opposition from Paul Nicholson on Vimeo.

I also took a ton of pictures at the game. I feel like i’m getting better and better at working with the right settings for shooting hockey. Check out the full set here.

Injured Penalty

In Hockey, Pictures, Sports on September 17, 2007 at 9:57 am

I’m looking for some clarification here. All you hockey bloggers and hockey fans, help me out.

In yesterday’s pre-season opener, Martin Erat was penalized for interference. David Vborny was injured on the play (he’ll be out “2-3 days”). According to the way the refs called the game (and this article) there can be or should be (still not clear on if it is discretion or mandated) a major penalty and game misconduct if an injury occurs as a result of the interference.

I have a huge issue with this, especially as it played out last night and in the Nashville series against San Jose last year.

In my understanding, historically an “injury” has been determined to occur when a player draws blood. There was no blood drawn yesterday, and rarely in the San Jose series. Yet we had players thrown out of games and suspended because an “injury” occurred – even when said injury was not severe enough to keep the opposing player off the ice.

But here’s why i have the biggest problem with this: If the same action is committed by a player, and in one case there is an injury caused, in another case there isn’t, the penalty for the action should be the same. By determining the severity of the penalty based on the offended players reaction, you are taking control out of the refs hands and putting it in the hands of players. Never a good idea.

The NHL has an issue with diving right now as it is. Since the refs are calling games tighter (which i like, by the way), many players are learning that they can dive and get a call, much more than they used to. Now with this injury change, i could easily see a 4th liner go out, wait to get hit by a star player, go down with an “injured” knee, and the star gets tossed. The 4th liner doesn’t come back out, maybe he does. Makes no difference. Conversely – there may be a nasty penalty committed that doesn’t injure the player (because of luck, better conditioning, whatever).

Of course, i’d love to be more informed on this, but the NHL’s website hasn’t listed any changes to the rule book this year (still says “New for 05-06!” in several places). The article in the Globe and Mail cites Rule 56 as dealing with the change to the interference call, but Rule 56 in the official book deals with fighting and instigating, and never mentions interference at all.


In other Predators news…pictures!

New ice is down at the Sommet Center
(note the new sponsor logo and name-change):

New scoreboard, turned off of course
(bad picture – i’ll hopefully take better ones myself soon):

New uniforms in use (we haven’t actually seen them on with pads until now).
I can live with it – not as good as i hoped, but it’ll work:

Predators Training Camp video #1

In Hockey, Sports, Videos on September 16, 2007 at 3:45 pm

Just wanted to post this real quick. Gotta get back and listen to the game vs. Columbus.

At about the 1:30 mark you can see Hordichuck dump Shea Weber, then right at the end you get to see some sweet goals from Arnott and Radulov during a breakaway drill.

Enjoy


Nashville Predators 2007 Training Camp Day 2

My Training Camp Report #1

In Hockey, Sports on September 14, 2007 at 6:27 pm

My thoughts on the small bit of training camp i got to see on Friday (just session 2):

  • Players were skating hard out there. Even captain Jason Arnott hit the deck more than once as things got physical and fast-paced out there. I think he was skating harder than almost anyone else on the ice. He was talking with other players, but wasn’t goofing around as much as i saw him doing it last year. He was there to lead. The Captain Has Arrived. Love it.
  • Nolan Yonkman doesn’t stand out as the beast he did last year. I think he may have trimmed down and gotten a little faster, but i think it’s mostly that this team is much, much bigger overall than last year’s squad.
  • Barry Trotz is much grayer this year. Not sure if he went gray over the summer, or just stopped using Just For Men. Probably a combination. Either way, he somehow looks both tougher and wiser. Good leader for a more blue-collar* scrappy, physical team.
  • I agree with what has been said elsewhere. We have some canons on our team. Tootoo, Weber, and Radulov were shooting often and shooting hard.
  • Rinne impressed me. Not that i am an ultimate judge of goalie talent, but he was moving quick, confidently, and was rarely out of position. I was concerned that he would be rusty given how little he has played over the last year, but he looked good. We’ll see how he looks in a game or even scrimmage, but i’m already feeling better about our backup situation.

Pictures are uploading now, video to come soon.

Lots more pictures and videos to come. I’m also going to the session tomorrow and am going to do everything i can to catch the scrimmage. Ah…to see something even resembling a hockey game again! Game On!

* Note to sports writers about the term “blue collar”. Do you know any hockey teams that wouldn’t describe themselves as a “blue collar” or as a “lunch pail” team? I don’t think there are a lot of hockey teams vying for the title of “most likely to try to avoid sweating”, “pampered”, or even “smarter not harder”. Being tough and hard-working is kinda the over-all ethic of pro-sports in general and particularly hockey right? I think more specific terms like “scrappy”, “efficient”, or “punishing” could apply in some cases, but “blue collar” is by far the most overused description i’ve been reading in pre-season write-ups around the league. Cut it out.

Training camp

In Hockey on September 14, 2007 at 10:20 am


Training camp

It’s cold. Loud. Fun.

Arnott to be captain, prices to rise

In Hockey, Sports on September 12, 2007 at 11:01 am

According to the news feed from the Predators site, Jason Arnott is to be named captain of the Preds at a news conference this afternoon. Like the choice. Dumont and Sully get the “A’s”. Good stuff. Good stuff all around.

And the Predators are going to be raising individual ticket prices, pretty significantly.

More Hockey-ness

In Cool Tech, Hockey, Sports on September 9, 2007 at 9:13 am

First a quick mini-update to the exciting news about the Dolphini Networks sponsorship: A little birdie half-confirmed form that there will be something in the way of player-cams in the Sommet Center this season! I don’t know of anything else like this in existence in pro sports (I know the SF Giants have some pretty spiffy high-tech stuff in their ballpark). I hope the Preds marketing department makes a HUGE deal out of this and gets press all over the place (nationally and locally).

And now, as i hit “Draft Ready” on my Fantasy Hockey league and get ready to request time off from my boss to go to some of the Predators Training Camp open sessions, here is a little poem for your enjoyment. This was written by an acquantence/friend, Matt McCluskey and is published here at his suggestion.

“Just Days Until Training Camp” (with sincere apologies to Clement C. Moore and Barry Trotz who isn’t really toothless :-)

Twas just days before training camp, when all through the arena,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a trainer;

The pads were hung by the Zamboni with care,
In the hopes that Lord Stanley soon would be there;

My wife and I were nestled all snug in the cheap seats,
Until visions of power-play goals had us dancing on our feet;

Then my wife in her jersey and I in my Preds cap,
Quietly settled down for a long summer’s nap;

When out on the ice there arose such a clatter,
We sprang from our seats to see what was the matter;

Away to the pricey-seats we flew like a flash,
Tore open the Zamboni doors and sat on the dash;

The gleam on the ice looked like new-fallen snow,
And gave the luster of mid-winter to objects below;

When what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But an old hockey coach, and eight Preds skating like reindeer;

With the Canadian coach, watching their shots,
I knew in a moment, it must be Barry Trotz;

More rapid than Mike Eagles, his skaters they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

Now Tootoo! Now Erat! Now Sullivan! and Mason!
On Smithson! On Suter! On Zanon! And Ellison!

To the top of the blue line to behind Mason’s goal!
Now skate away, skate away, skate away all!

As Edmonton Oilers before the Carolina Hurricanes fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;

So up to the rink-top, the skaters they flew,
With a zamboni full of jerseys and Barry Trotz, too;

And then, in a twinkling, I heard from the dasher gate,
The hissing and chirping of each little skate;

As I drew in my hand, and was turning around,
Down from the skyboxes, Barry Trotz came with a bound;

He was dressed all in nylon, from his head to his bottom;
And his clothes were all tarnished, like his goalie was Hardy Astrom;

A bundle of jerseys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like Ron Hextall ready to take a whack;

His eyes how they twinkled! His dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like Don Cherry;

His toothless little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as Garth Snow;

The stump of his whistle he held tight in his remaining teeth,
And his cool breath encircled his head like a wreath;

He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like Mike Eruzione;

He was chubby and plump, but could put it top shelf,
And I laughed when I saw him in spite of myself;

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to the puck;
And filled all the hockey bags, and hoped for good luck;

And laying his hockey stick aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the plexiglass he rose;

He sprang to the Zamboni, to his team he gave a whistle,
And away they all flew off the ice like a missile;

But I heard him explain, as they skated off of the ice,
HAPPY HOCKEY TO ALL, AND TO ALL A GOOD-NIGHT

Originally it was “Nine Days Until Training Camp” but i changed it to make it more general since it is not actually nine days until training camp anymore. I also liked Christy’s suggestions that it should have ended “Happy Hockey to All, and to all a good fight!”, but it is awesome as it is. Great job Matt!

Predators News – Lots of it!

In Hockey, Sports on September 7, 2007 at 10:15 am

It has been a busy week for the Predators, though most of it is behind the scenes.

The quick points:

  • Preds signed ‘journeyman’ Josh Langfeld. He has been compared to a Fiddler-style player that still has potential. Trotz stated earlier this week that they are looking to shore up their depth at forward, especially when it comes to depth beyond the NHL level. This fits that category well.
  • The local potential-ownership group has moved several steps closer to closing the deal to purchase the team. The last of the paperwork has been signed between the new group and Craig Leipold, meaning all that is left is for the NHL Board of Governors (owners) to vote and approve (which they are expected to do)…and of course the local group still has to renegotiate the lease terms with Metro Nashville government to make the needed changes in the lease in order to secure the remainder of their financing.
  • The Predators crossed the 9,000 season ticket mark earlier this week. That is 9,000 full-season tickets, or full-season equivalents (in other words, probably several thousand full-season tickets, and many thousand more half-season and quarter-season packages). The team has yet to start selling individual game tickets, and camp hasn’t even started (so media coverage hasn’t really ramped up yet). Last year the team ended up the year at 8,758 full season tickets (or equivalents). That means assuming ticket sales for individual games doesn’t go down, the team will more than make-up the roughly180 seats per game they fell short of the 14,000 needed to lock the team here. Individual ticket sales start Sept 15th, and season ticket sales always go up as the year progresses. These numbers are very very encouraging.
  • FSN South announced which games they will be broadcasting. 55 games for the year over the regular season. Pretty good spread throughout the season. Nothing noted so far as to which of the games will be available in HD, though my hope is all of them… we’ll see. I’d love to have an option of a local terrestrial broadcast station pickup at least a few of the extra games (especially some of the away games) but i guess we’re still not there yet. NBC has an option to have us on against the Red Wings twice, so those two Red Wings games aren’t on FSN. I’m not sure if FSN gets to pickup the games in the event NBC chooses not to broadcast them. We’ll also be missing at least one game against the Stanley Cup Champion Ducks. Looking up sports bars with Center Ice…

Ok – so that pretty much covers the news that you’ve probably seen or heard about in the paper. Now for the update of the other stuff you probably missed:

The Nashville Post reported yesterday that the Preds have picked up another corporate sponsor. This one i’m really excited about. Not only are the a corporate sponsor in terms of helping give the team financial support – their main support is actually in discounted services they are providing. Dolphini Networks, based in the Cummings Station building just down the street from the Sommet Center, is a high-tech media services company. Among other things, they will be running a special fiber-optic backbone from their offices to the arena. This will allow them to “provide the team with Internet support, voice over Internet protocol services and, down the road, wireless simulcast of games within the building.”

This is where it gets good: that later feature is described as one that will “allow fans to receive feeds from cameras following their favorite players.” Are you freaking kidding me?!?! They’ll have camera’s just trained on each individual player on the ice. You can focus on Mason all the way in on a breakaway, or watch Leggy with his great back checking that is so rarely on camera. I just hope they allow fans to get access to this data at a later time, through a subscription internet site perhaps.


Lastly, it’s been a while since we’ve had some good old fashioned free agent speculation for the Preds… so here we go… Eklund, the master of fuzzy rumors, has updated his list. Here’s the Nashville mentions off the list:
1. Peter Forsberg (Nash, Ottawa, Col, Edm, Van, Phi)
5. Mike Johnson (Nashville, Washington, Phoenix)
13. Eric Lindros (retire or Calgary, Vancouver, Nashville)

That’s right, Eric Lindros is now apparently a possibility for Nashville. Uh huh. Right. Only thing that makes sense about that to me is as a replacement for Sullivan. Anyway…

Throwing a little speculation out there of my own: ESPN’s (known for great hockey coverage of course) Scott Burnside wrote an interesting article about Curtis Joseph’s desire to continue to play in the NHL. He doesn’t want to follow Eddie Belfor to play overseas. Fine. Preds need a good, experienced backup behind Mason. I’ll take CuJo. Of course we couldn’t and wouldn’t pay him anywhere near the $2mil he made with Phoenix last year, but maybe we wouldn’t have to. Having Pekka Rinne as our only backup, as solid as he looks in the minors, just makes me nervous.

Anyway…

Last little jab: If the Predators did this, i guarantee people up in Detroit would be using it as an example of how Nashville is a failure as a hockey club. Cities are different. They don’t always compare exactly. And everyone – even the great Hockeytown – has to resort to unusual methods to fill seats on occasion. Personally i think it’s a great promo and with Detroit luck in filling seats (just not filling nets).

Oh – last shot – looks like we might be getting NHL games live online next year (finally!). For those like myself who don’t have cable but do have broadband (all 4 of us) this will be awesome!

Update: New Preds jerseys go on sale Sept 15th (same as individual game tickets) at the Preds Pro Shop at the Sommet Center. Looks like they will be available elsewhere (Sports Seasons, etc) on Sept 22nd-ish.

Fantasy Hockey Update II

In Friends, Hockey, Sports on September 5, 2007 at 6:42 am

Well, things are looking pretty good.

We now have 10 people signed up for the league, with a few more potentials. Last year we had only 8 people, and i found it a challenge at times to find quality talent to fill my roster with. Given roster sizes (19 players per team) we’ll be at least 190 players deep. According to Yahoo’s pre-set draft rankings, that means we’ll be drafting down to the range of Ladislav Nagy, Jere Lehtinen, Jordan Staal, Mike Sillinger, and Doug Weight. Really not that bad. I think we can survive taking a few more people on board.

So anyone else interested?
Here’s who we have in the league so far so you know who you’re up against:

Brandon Felder – HockeyBuzz blogger, Sports Journalist student
Christy Nicholson – my wife, hockey blogger, general fan (6)
David Carlson – general fan, friend of mine from work
Dirk Hoag – aka “The Forechecker”, Nashville area hockey blogger
Gary Nicholson – my dad, general fan, first-time fantasy sports player
Kevin Hicks – sports nut, and frequent fantasy player, friend from work
Kevin Peters – general fan, friend of mine (7)
Paul McCann – HockeyBuzz blogger, PA announcer for the Preds
Paul Nicholson – Me, sometimes hockey blogger, general fan (1)
Ryan Cassell – general fan, Denver native, friend of mine from work (2)

The numbers listed indicate their standing in the league last year, for those who played. So Ryan and i are back for more, Christy and Kevin are here for redemption :-)

I think with all the hockey bloggers among us, it is going to be interesting to see how it plays out. Several of these guys (McCann and the Forechecker in particular) tend to get news very quickly from time to time. I’ll be curious to see how that might effect their strategy. Do they post news on their blog first, risking that someone else in the league takes action first? Or do they pickup/drop a player from their roster then post about it online, risking that someone else online gets the scoop? The rest of you should probably start reading those guys blogs regularly.

One things for sure, i think this is going to be a lot of fun. Kevin and Christy can both tell you that they should have done much better than that last year, but injuries hit them hard. This is also just a game of stats, so it is very possible for a first-time fantasy player like my dad to beat someone like McCann. Anything can happen.

I will probably set the draft to ‘ready’ status over the weekend. I’ll make sure to send out a note to all the ‘managers’ at least 2 days in advance to give you plenty of warning so you can fix your pre-draft rankings.

If you are interested in signing up:
Just visit- http://hockey.fantasysports.yahoo.com/hockey
when prompted for the league ID, enter 15408. Password is “mason” (without quotes).

Signings and Trash Talk

In Blog Stuff, Friends, Hockey, Sports on September 4, 2007 at 10:54 am

Jeremy Roenick just signed with the San Jose Sharks. This allows me the first opportunity to trash-talk during the new season with my Sharks-fan-friend, Jim.

Jim commented on my posts about Roenick back in July:

Roenick=washed up, done, loudmouth, that still thinks he can play like he did 10 years ago, he should have left a very very long time ago, kinda feel the same way about Tkachuk.

I gotta give the Roenick props. His personal website (which most hockey players don’t even have) already has the news updated. Kinda funny though, his site links to the TSN article about it, not the Sharks page making the announcement.


In only partially related news: The Predators just signed another two-way prospect forward, Josh Langfeld. Of course, this is a ‘prospect’ that is 30 years old, so i think this is more about depth than future.

Predators on the Ice

In Christy, Hockey, Sports, Videos on August 30, 2007 at 9:31 pm

It is so good to see players on the ice again!

Christy had some time this morning and swung by the open, informal practice session today. Mason, Fiddler, Gelinas, Erat, Hordichuck, Legwand, and Dumont were there today. They played light 3-on-3 most of the day, and Christy took a lot of pictures. Also some new news about the practice facility and what they are doing for the fans during open training camp session… go read about it at Christy’s “Hockey Wife” blog.

Only thing she told me that she didn’t put in the blog was the Hordichuck and Gelinas were hanging out talking together most of the time she was there. Makes sense to me. From what i understand they are both fitness nuts and seem to be cut from the same cloth.

Oh – and it looks like Mason does indeed have a new mask design and new pads for this season. I think it is interesting that Mason, who has been very pro-Nashville through the ownership mess, chose not to go with a mascot theme, but rather plaster “NASHVILLE” and the old Nashville Arena symbol on his mask.

Christy also shot a TON of pictures and some good video.
Video below. Pictures are here.

Oh – and if you watch closely, and about 2:06 into the video, someone actually gets checked lightly into the boards behind the net :-)

Nashville Predators Informal Practice.

Fantasy Hockey is On!

In Games, Hockey, Sports on August 29, 2007 at 8:42 pm

Well, i have lots of other things i want to blog about but i’ve been way too busy…more later. Until then…

IT IS FINALLY TIME TO
DROP THE (virtual) PUCK!
I’m starting up another Fantasy Hockey league with Yahoo’s free system. My wife and a bunch of friends from work (and outside work) all played and i think we had a lot of fun. Well, all of us except Kevin. Worst luck i’ve ever seen man…

Anyway, the settings worked well last year, running with the same settings again this year. Just a once-per-week roster set (like football) so you don’t have to constantly micro-manage your team. Pretty much just draft your team (it will auto-draft a good team if you don’t know who to set) and then watch for injuries and you’ll do decently well.

This is a no-cash, bragging-rights-only league. Most of us are not hockey experts, just fans. I started it last year to make myself learn more about the rest of the league and it worked well. A whole lot of fun.

This is a ‘private’ league, but it is open to anyone that wants to join.
Just visit- http://hockey.fantasysports.yahoo.com/hockey
when prompted for the league ID, enter 15408. Password is “mason” (without quotes).

Game on!

Sully out – New owners in?

In Hockey, Sports on August 24, 2007 at 2:13 pm

Predators bloggers are still buzzing about the Predators lease news. Forechecker points out that the Chamber of Commerce just voted unanimously to endorse the changes being suggested by the local ownership group to the lease. It looks like a binding agreement is just around the corner as well.

In other Preds news: Steve Sullivan was apparently worse off than we thought and just had his second back surgery of the summer. He will be out at least 3 months, which means he’ll miss all of camp and pre-season, as well as at least a few games of the regular season. Probably coming back around the time we play Tomas Vokoun and the Panthers… Unless by 3 months they mean the first three months of the season… I’m not clear on that yet. I agree with Forechecker. Pressure just went on Radulov, Dumont, Arnott, and Erat to produce offensively.

3+6=11 for the Predators

In Hockey, Nashville, Sports on August 24, 2007 at 12:06 pm

One of my business law professors in college used to complain about coverage of business law in the media. Business law, he would say, is far more complicated than fits in an easy to read 2-inch column in the paper. It certainly doesn’t fit in sound bytes. The burden of proof and reasons for prosecution would frequently get distorted.

He summed this up (pardon the pun) by using the analogy of a mathematician telling you that 3+6+4-2=11. But the media doesn’t want to take the time to explain all of that, so he just puts 3+6=11 in the article. Both 3 and 6 were part of the equation, but it is a fallacy to believe that that was all that was involved.

That little story came to mind when Chris Wage over at Metroblogging pointed out this article in the Nashville Post regarding the potential buying group Predators efforts to renegotiate the lease terms with the city.

Great article. Highly advise reading it, if you can make it through. Basically this is complicated. It is money, budgets, politicians, taxes…all that fun stuff.

To me (as a Preds fan of course) it boils down to the group asking Metro for help in making this work, with the promise of taking on more of the risk themselves. They ask Metro to pay more up front, but give up most if not all of the risk. Fixed cost for Metro, more incentive for the ownership group to make the Sommet Center and the Predators profitable.

Sounds like a good situation to me.


In other Predators related blogging news: Christy has a funny post up about her bad luck with Fantasy Hockey last year.

Predators Captaincy

In Hockey, Sports on August 21, 2007 at 8:38 pm

For those that don’t know, HockeyBuzz (Eklund‘s place) has a new blogger for the Predators. Paul McCann will still be blogging (thank God) but he is moving to a more general role. The new guy is, well, new. He’s very young and writes like it. But he is enthusiastic and hopefully will grow in to the role soon.

His first post was about the captaincy of the Predators. Who should or shouldn’t take the reigns since Captain Kimmo and Kariya (who was an alternate on occasion) left.

He puts up Sullivan (C), Arnott (A), and Weber Dumont (A) as nominations. With Weber, Suter, and Radulov as possibilities. Here was my response:

First it has to be said that i hate that Mason can’t wear an ‘A’ at least… He hasn’t played as much but he has been and is going to be the emotional core of this team.

Anyway, Sully gets the ‘C’ in a perfect world, but my concern there is health. A captain in a luxury suite nursing his back isn’t much of a captain. If i’m Trotz, i think about giving him an ‘A’ again and letting him lead when he’s there. If his back is proven strong enough in camp, then perhaps give him the ‘C’, but Trotz already said he wants leadership named before camp even starts. His back is just so iffy at this point…

If not Sully, then Arnott. Of course if he’s not ‘C’ then ‘A’. That’s a given.

As for the other alternate, Weber could be good, though i’m not sure if he or Suter are there yet. They’ll have enough filling Kimmo skates on the ice. I want them to concentrate on their play. Ice time is going way up for those two (was already high). They wouldn’t be bad choices…just not sure.

No way Radulov gets anywhere near leadership. He’ll be a scorer, but he has a lot of maturing to do. He was something of a goof-ball last season. Not that i minded, but he isn’t a leader. Not to mention there is a decent amount of language barrier still there, if interviews last year were any indication. Great player. I’d pick him to lead the team in goals and probably scoring, but no way he’s leadership.

I would think about players like Zanon and Fiddler personally. They aren’t going to be on any all-star teams, but that isn’t the point of a captain. They are veterans, respected, responsible, reliable on and off the ice… Those are the characteristics i look for in leadership. Many teams have strong leading captains who aren’t on-ice producers. I think they could be similar to a Greg Johnson, etc. Suter and/or Weber could be the same, but i just don’t see players that young in leadership on a team that actually got older (on average) during the off-season, not younger.

random updates

In Christy, Hockey, Me, Movies, Sports, Work on August 20, 2007 at 9:32 am

I feel like i’ve been so poor in blogging lately. Not that i’m one of those people that feels i have to blog everyday. I know the masses of you that hang on my every word can live without hearing from me for a few days. No – i’m missing blogging because i have so much i wanted to blog about but have been to busy with all of said things to actually get around to doing it.

So…let’s play a little catch-up:


New Business Blog
Coming out of Barcamp, Christy and i talked a lot about what she/we’re doing with Ghia. Among other things, i’m going to start blogging on the Ghia corporate blog. First entry: here!

I’m really excited about how the business is doing so far, and looking forward to pushing it further. As much as i ragged some of the presenters at Barcamp in my last post, i really did learn a lot. Christy’s working on our Google Local entry and we’re thinking of doing a site re-design soon. Christy has done an amazing job with the business so far, but she’s been working largely by herself. I’m pumped about getting more involved and getting the rust off my web and marketing skills.

We already spent some of yesterday shooting pics for the new inventory we got in last week. Check for it on the site soon!


Blockbuster Trade
Just a couple of weeks ago i posted about how happy i was that Blockbuster had bought MovieLink. I was already very happy with the value we were getting with Blockbuster Online (we locked ourselves into a great rate many months ago) and i was looking forward to them adding the downloadble movie features.

Well, last Friday i got an email from Blockbuster titled something along the lines of “Changes to your Blockbuster Account”. I was excited. I was ready to open it up and find out that they were going to give us the option to do downloadable movies instead of in-store exchanges, or better yet both. Um….no. Nothing about downloadable movies was mentioned, but they did explain that my previous plan of 7 movies (4 in store, 3 in the mail) per month for $7.99 was being discontinued (in reality they stopped offering this to new subscribers months ago) and i would have to choose another plan. The offer they made instead was 4 movies (2 in-store, 2 in the mail) for $7.99 – what a deal! Same price, 40% fewer movies!

So half out of looking for a better deal, and half out of anger/spite, we switched to Netflix this weekend. Just after i’d starting swapping recommendations and stuff with my sister and my friend Amber on Blockbuster. Oh well. Now we get to find friends that have Netflix. Anyone? Click here to set us up as friends on Netflix.


Predators and the City
There has also been a lot going on in the world of the Predators.
For more reading i advise the Forechecker. He continues his marvelous assessment of the situation.

Essentially the local ownership group is asking the Metro government for $3 million more per year (according to them this is being required by their creditors) and a guarantee of 14,000 in paid attendance (so the team doesn’t lose on league revenue sharing). In exchange they are offering to donate the first $3 million in profits every year (if/when there are any) to local charities and groups, and are promising to take fuller advantage of the Sommet Center as a facility and increase the number of events (tax generating events) held there. Sounds fair enough to me. Much ado made out of very little last week, i think.

hockey family

In Basketball, Blog Stuff, Christy, Hockey, Sports on August 16, 2007 at 11:15 am

First: My wife is awesome.
She just started a hockey blog on HockeyBuzz.com: http://my.hockeybuzz.com/hockeywife
By the way, i am surprised myself at just how sexy i find this.


This reminds me of something i was thinking about the other day… would i be a crazy die-hard hockey fan if i moved away from the Nashville Predators (or God forbid, they moved away from me). I am pretty sure the answer is still yes.

See, i have only really been a hockey fan for about 4 years. I grew up in Texas following mostly basketball and football. Between those two i am certainly more of a Spurs fan than Cowboys or Oilers/Titans. I prefer basketball as a game over football, despite the myriad of problems plaguing the league right now.

Right now i prefer hockey over basketball though. Given a chance to watch the Flyers and Devils play or the 76ers and Nets, i’d go hockey for sure. (Granted, if it was Flyers/Devils up against Suprs and anyone i’d watch my Spurs).

But i’ve been a big basketball fan for pretty much 20 of my 28 years on this planet. Hockey, only 4. So if hockey was to become less convenient, would i go out of my way to follow it the way i have basketball? I have to be honest and say that i hope so, but i’m not sure. Probably depends on if the Predators moved or i did. I can and would follow the Nashville Predators if i moved back to San Antonio, but i can’t see myself living in Nashville and following the Kansas City Predators. I would certainly be more interested in hockey than i used to, but it wouldn’t be the same. If on the other hand the Spurs left SA, i could still see myself following basketball, at least to a degree. I know the players, coaches, and back stories so much better.

The summary result of all these deep thoughts: It takes time to be a real fan of any sport. I am a crazy Predators fan, but it will take me years more of following the league to know players on other teams, know who hates who, who came through in the clutch and who is overrated.

So i will close with once again asking the rest of the fans in the NHL to be patient with the newer markets. We’ll get there.

Ownership Loyalty

In Hockey, Sports on August 15, 2007 at 10:14 am

Predators owner-to-be William “Boots” Del Biaggio may have just given himself a rough start with Nashville fans, some of who are already worried that he just wants to take the team to Kansas City.

The San Jose Mercury News interviewed Del Biaggio for an article on the Sharks ownership changes this off-season. He gave them some interesting quotes (taken totally out of context i’m sure):

[The Sharks] lost money, in spite of the new NHL labor agreement. It makes you wonder if this was why Del Biaggio evacuated. Not at all, Del Biaggio said. Reached by phone this week, he sounded like a kid with a new toy.
“I’ve just been really looking to become a larger owner of a team in the last few years,” Del Biaggio said. “It’s a turnaround situation in Nashville. And I’m going to have a much larger say in the hockey operations there. I’m excited.”

When asked if he was unhappy in San Jose:

“I have no issues here in San Jose. I loved being an owner of the Sharks. It’s a first-class operation, and Greg Jamison is a first-class executive. I just have a desire to be a majority owner of an NHL team one day. But I’m still living here. I’m not moving. We have season tickets behind the Sharks bench. Our son plays for the Junior Sharks squirt team. When Nashville comes in to play the Sharks this season, I’m sure he’ll be wearing his Sharks jersey.”

So, this brings up an interesting question: How effective can you be as an owner if you’re still a season ticket-holding fan of a rival of your own franchise?

I don’t mean to blow this out of proportion. It was an interview given to the San Jose paper. But still…telling Nashville fans that you aren’t moving from San Jose, will continue to attend Sharks games from behind the bench, and your kid will be wearing Sharks jerseys?

Not exactly a great start to the new relationship of a group of fans that are admittedly a little fragile and shaken from this off-season to begin with.

nhl 06-7-8

In Entertainment, Games, Hockey, Reviews, Sports on August 10, 2007 at 10:13 pm

A quick post combining two of my favorite pastimes. Hockey and video games.

I first bought NHL 06 for my PC as i really started getting in to hockey. I think i played it at someone elses’ house or something and decided to play it more. For the record: i advise this for anyone who wants to get in to hockey – playing the video game version is a great way to learn the basics of the game (penalties, etc) – though you will never advance beyond the very basics of course.

That was the real rub. NHL 06 was fun to play, but EA obviously put out a very half-hearted effort compared to NBA or Madden. But hey, i’m in sales and marketing. It’s money. I get it.

When it was time for NHL 07 to come out, i was pumped. They were promising this new ‘skill stick’ change and amazing new graphics. I saw the trailers and was very impressed. So i went out and bought a copy soon after it was released. I was horribly disappointed. Not only did i not have the skill stick on the PC version, but i also didn’t have the improved graphics. Essentially the PC version was simply a port of the PS2 and Xbox versions – not the “next gen” PS3 and Xbox 360 versions that all the trailers had been for. The only difference i could tell between NHL 06 and NHL 07 was that the goalies sometimes played butterfly style now instead of always stacking their pads. Yeah, that was worth $40.

Now i see trailers for NHL 08.

First, amazing graphics. To be expected, but worth noting. These looks awesome. The crowd still looks horrible, but the players look and move better than ever. Second, they really tweaked the custom/create mode. You could create customer players before, but you had one default head to choose from, with very very limited customization. Very poor by most game standards today (especially on PC – i should be able to import skins dang it!). The new NHL 08 looks like it will be much better in that department. It also adds the ability to create your own team, including selecting from a preset choice of logos (PC import option please?) and a full color pallet to chose from. This video highlights these changes…and then showcases video of the team pictured on the right. Any copies of this game they may have sold, just disappeared. Why. On Earth. Would anyone make a team look like that? It would hurt your eyes to play a whole game like that.

Anyway…

Most importantly, they are also touting improved collision/hitting physics and adaptive AI. These address the two biggest weaknesses in the game. The collision physics used to be determined entirly by two factors: balance and speed. So a player who’s balance and agility stats were high, was hard to knock down. One who’s stats were low, was blown over by a passing butterfly. Worse – small, fast players (like Steve Sullivan for the Predators) routinely lead the team in hits, and can deck anyone on the ice simply because they move so fast. It is all about speed. The new version is supposed to take mass/weight/momentum into account. Yay.

They have also supposedly fixed or at least improved the AI. The AI used to be horrible. I can run the same play over and over again and score about 7 out of 10 times. I regularly run up stats and get 4 or 5 players hat tricks per game when i play NHL 07 on easy. On hard it just makes the opposing goalie block a higher percentage of your shots, your goalie sucks more, but the defenders never learn a thing (on either side). The new version is supposed to pickup on repeated plays or positions and adjust to be ready for that cross-ice pass from the corner that used to be so easy. We can only hope.

The one thing i was horribly disappointed in is that the uniforms will apparently all be last years unis. Unless they are going to completely recreate the models, they are all still wearing the old-style baggy sweaters, not the new fancy tighter-fitting RBK jerseys. What, bringing them out in the Olympics last year and the all-star break this year wasn’t enough time? Even if they try to change the skins to match the new patters, the fit is all wrong. That is actually a pretty big selling point to me, and they are totally missing the boat.

But here’s the thing i’m really waiting to find out: is the PC version crippled again? They are making PS2, P23, Xbox 360, and PC versions of this game. Now, a top-of-the-line PC has more processing power to put to this game than any console, but i understand most modern gaming PC’s lie in the Xbox 360 range of power. Either way – the PC should get the
best features available. I know this probably won’t happen, because EA Sports PC games are always just sloppy ports of the console versions. What is more frustrating on top of that, is that all game review sites that bother to even review the NHL games, always just review the console version! Not even a note of ‘this game is the same on PC’ or ‘the PC versions is actually a Gameboy Color port’. Nothing.

Why? Why must i endure this pain? I would go over to the other PC NHL franchise… but… wait… there isn’t one. Curse you EA! Curse you!!!!!!

(sorry for the long post – i needed to get that one out)

predator profitability

In Hockey, Nashville, Sports on August 10, 2007 at 7:28 am

This article in the Winnipeg Free Press is asking the question that i think a lot of people around the sports (and business) world have been asking themselves: Why would anyone buy hockey teams that have been losing serious amounts of money. The Predators reportedly lost $15mil last year, and a total of $70mil over the past 10 years. The previous owner of the Lightning reportedly lost “more than $70mil” over the 7 years he owned the team. The teams first owner reportedly lost $20mil in one year (1998-1999).

So why would anyone, especially less-than-billionaire groups of owners, buy these teams? It’s a fair question.

I can’t speak to the case of the Lightning, but for the Predators the answer is that the NHL franchise was not the only thing changing hands. There was also Powers Management.

Powers Management is the separate company that manages and runs the Sommet Center. Every concert, revival, rally, and gathering that happens there. Every major artist tour that uses the state-of-the-art practice facility. Everything that goes on in that building – Powers Management gets to keep the profits. Better yet, thanks to the agreement with the city, Powers Management is guaranteed not to lose money. The city of Nashville has to subsidize any losses. Though Metro sees none of the direct profits, it does see benefits in tax revenue and other peripheral economic impact. There have been a few years where Metro has had to pay, but i believe on the whole, Powers has been running a positive balance sheet.

So while the Predators can honestly be losing money year after year, the overall business of running the team and being the anchor tenant of the Sommet Center is still quite profitable i am sure.

Note: Normally i would have this post chock full of links to references backing up my statements. There are articles too numerous to mention that talk about the teams losing money – but amazingly few places online that reference the deal that Powers Mgmt has with the city, and fewer still that give any details about Powers Mgmt itself. In fact, there was a lawsuit by the Tennessean last year against Powers Mgmt for them to open their books as a public entity. The courts agreed that though Powers Mgmt was a private company, they operated a city-built and owned arena and therefore functioned in a public capacity.

the Forsberg effect

In Hockey, Sports on August 8, 2007 at 4:47 pm

Way back when the Predators traded for Peter Forsberg, i made the argument that the trade made sense, if for no other reason, than from a financial point of view. Regardless of how much his contract cost, Forsberg paid for himself in extra jersey (sweaters for all you old-school hockey fans) and ticket sales.

I was made fun of.
I was ridiculed.
I was right.

Check out this press release from NHL.com today.
The important parts: The Predators experienced 425% year-over-year growth in merchandise sales (a growth rate second only to Buffalo’s gaudy 746%). And Peter Forsberg’s jersey was the 6th most popular sold, behind only Sidney Crosby and collection of Buffalo Sabres.

Two snide remarks to make here:

  1. I think the Predators had an unfair advantage in these numbers. Everyone had to buy their Forsberg jerseys from NHL.com because there are only like 4 places in Nashville that carry Predators jerseys. The support is there…when are the Predators going to get a licensing deal with Academy or Wal-Mart in the area? Where is “the official retailer for the Nashville Predators”?
  2. I don’t think it is fair for Buffalo to mandate a Sabres jersey as part of their standard school attire, which is clearly what happened last year.

So yes, i am back to harping on the marketing group for the Preds. I really hope that the new ownership group has better marketing sense and better local business connections. Maybe Leipold didn’t notice that you couldn’t find a Predators t-shirt at Target because he didn’t live here. Hopefully these guys can fix that.

Predators rumor updates

In Blog Stuff, Hockey, Sports on August 8, 2007 at 9:42 am

If this article is to be believed, then nothing you are about to read is to be believed – but hey, i don’t mind. That article has given me about 350+ unique visitors in the last week and is yet another place where one of my photos was used in a publication. Still waiting for the AP to call me.

Anyway….

Here’s the latest update from Eklund on rumors around the remaining Unrestricted Free Agents. Interestingly, Jeremy Roenick hasn’t signed with anyone, but is suddenly off the list all together, much less off the list for the Predators.

1. Peter Forsberg (Nashville, Ottawa, Vancouver, Colorado, Philadelphia)
8. Mike Johnson (Nashville,Phoenix, NYI, NJ)
20. Janne Niinimaa (Columbus, Detroit, Nashville )
21. Jan Bulis (Columbus, Nashville, Pittsburgh, Washington)

Also interesting is that last time (just a few weeks ago) Mike Johnson was listed as the 32nd best free agent left, well after Jan Bulis (at 21st last time). Jan Bulis didn’t move, but suddenly Mike Johnson is the 8th best free agent left. Been working out in the off-season?

The new guy on the list for Nashville, Janne Niinimaa, isn’t very exciting looking. Only played in 41 games last year and ended up with a -13 plus/minus rating. Not what you’re looking for in a defenseman, especially since we have Kevin Klein, etc. all coming up strong from the minors. So, i’m gonna call foul on this prediction from Ek. I hope it is totally hooey anyway.


In related news: great article about new Predators Jed Ortmeyer and how he fits the Predators is in today’s New York Sun (Ortmeyer came from the Islanders last year).

predators sale analysis

In Hockey, Nashville, Sports on August 2, 2007 at 9:41 am

Great article by Daniel Tolensky just got posted on Hockey Buzz.

Very honest assessment of ‘Boots’ Del Biaggio’s role in the purchase (which it turns out may be as much as 40%, making him the largest owner).

If you are a Predators fan, or just someone interested in business in Nashville, it is worth the read.

Predators-Locals letter of intent signed

In Hockey, Nashville, Sports on August 1, 2007 at 1:06 pm

Not just a letter of intent – it is a Binding Agreement. They have layed down $10mil in cash money. This is it (barring something really weird).

The letter of intent has been signed. Business man “Boots” Del Biaggio has stepped forward as a major part of the ownership group, but it is majority owned part by a local group of 7 investors. Major local investors include David Freeman, CEO of 36 Venture Capital LLC, and Herb Fritch, CEO of HealthSpring Inc.

The anticipated closing date for the transaction is no later than September 30, 2007.

Again – “Boots” is only a minority owner. Apparently most of the budget/team decisions will be made by a group of the 5 big share-holders. I assume more details to come on that. Supposedly there are no circumstances (under the current agreement) that would see “Boots” become a majority owner.

Sale price: $193mil.
Less than Ballsillie was going for, but more than “Boots” was offering by himself.
Apparently “less than 25%” of the deal is debt, which is supposed to be good for a sports team sale these days…

I am getting to listen to the press conference live (thanks to the firewall at work going on the fritz again). Everyone is very clearly talking about the team staying in Nashville in the mid/long-term. No word on any changes in the lease with the city yet, or very specific details on how the

Craig Leipold also just said that he is planning on turning around and buying season tickets (since he assumes he’s losing his owner’s suite [much laughter in the room]), and is thrilled that the team is staying in Nashville.


Article is up on NashvillePredators.com, includes full audio of the press conference.


New lead-owner is David Freeman. He is acting as the spokesman for the ownership group, etc. I would assume he is the largest shareholder. He’s not much of a spokesperson. They are interviewing him on the radio right now…he’s not a very good speaker. At least right now.


Confirmed: Del Biaggio will have to divest himself of his share of the Sharks. No word on what happens with his agreement with the arena in Kansas City to eventually operate a club there.

predators sale to locals is pending

In Hockey, Nashville, Sports on August 1, 2007 at 8:36 am

This was reported several places yesterday (PredJoe really broke the story), but i want to get in on the fun too.

Paul McCann just posted that a press conference is about to be announced…looks like it’s here!
(Sounds like a press conference at 2:30pm…that’s the buzz anyway)

The Predators will be being sold to the local group (who will obviously do everything to keep the team in town) with the addition of some mysterious outside investor. Maybe “Boots”. Maybe Todd Wagner. Very interesting.


In other Predators news, i like the topic of this article in today’s Tennessean.

When the Preds signed Gelinas, that got us to the salary cap floor. But there is at least one more trade to make – since we have 24 players on contract that should be at the NHL level, it means we will likely see a trade of some kind. Since we have to stay above the floor, we can’t give up any salary, which means we can’t just trade a player for draft picks.

We have to lose a player, but not lose salary. So…trade two-for-one. Trade two players and get one (better) replacement. Could be great. I’m not going to begin to speculate who that would be (yet).

Of course, another option exists if any of those 24 players are on a two-way contract. Even if they have to clear waivers, Poile has to try to hold on to the talent he has. Especially since there is no way everyone stays healthy this year (especially with Sullivan’s back), we’ll need those extra players to be key.

This is also a good time to point out that as much as i love Darcy Hordichuck, he doesn’t make sense on the ice. I’d get rid of him easy in place for someone else. He is still here purely for the fans…or to step in if/when Tootoo gets suspended again.

The article also points out that training camp should be very interesting this year given the pressure for roster spots. We saw a few fights last year, i wouldn’t be surprised to see a few of the same this year. Those scrimmages started to look like games when the 4th-liners and prospects were on the ice. This is gonna be fun.

chris mason for vice-mayor

In History/Politics, Hockey, Nashville, Sports on July 31, 2007 at 4:31 pm

Someone just commented on this flickr photo of mine, that they just voted for Chris Mason for vice-mayor of the city as a write-in.

I don’t think Chris is even eligible, being Canadian and all, but it sounds like a good idea to me. I get to show my general distaste for the current political landscape and the offerings i have to choose from, but still cast my vote – all while supporting the Predators!

This wouldn’t be the first time, mind you. Me and a few friends of voted for a co-worker as a write-in during the last election. I don’t even remember what office it was for.

NHL on ESPN

In Entertainment, Hockey, Sports on July 31, 2007 at 2:09 pm

Ok, i’ll go ahead an weigh in with my thoughts about ESPN talking to the NHL.

First, the basics:

  1. I would love the NHL to be anywhere but on Versus. Even if they went exclusively to their own NHL network (which is being discussed, but it wouldn’t be exclusive), it would be better than Versus.
  2. NBC wants to get out of their contract. The NHL hasn’t done well for them (mostly because there is no secondary support and only airing a few games for a few weeks out of the year isn’t enough to build an audience). But the NHL needs a free, over-the-air presence.
  3. ESPN also carries with it ABC. See point #2.

Now, my thoughts are this. ESPN would be great. No question. But what would be better? Fox.

For everyone that remembers the old glowing pucks and has a general hatred for the idea of hockey on Fox – hear me out.

Is ESPN the “worldwide leader in sports”? Yes. But here’s the rub. They also have the TV contract for the NHL’s major competitor, the NBA. The NBA and NHL both have 82-game seasons that run through the winter. They have games on the weekend and during the week. ESPN and ABC will be forced to choose between the two leagues for prime coverage spots. If given the opportunity to air an NHL game or an NBA game, ESPN is going to choose the NBA game every time.

Meanwhile, Fox Sports is the only other major factor in sports broadcasting these days. This makes more sense for a few reasons. First, most of the NHL teams around the US have contracts with regional Fox Sports affiliate for cable broadcast (the Predators are on Fox Sports South for instance). Fox does also have experience in covering the league (1994-1999).

More importantly, Fox’s other sports contracts are with MLB, NFL, and NASCAR. Baseball is off-season while the NHL is playing, and the football is just 1 day a week for Fox (Sun afternoons) and NASCAR is at a minimum over winter. This means the NHL will get more prime coverage and more choice spots.

Of course the main down-side to that is that Fox Sports does have great broadcast presence, they lack a major national cable channel to replace Versus. The ESPN/ABC combo is a powerhouse. It would be great to get. I just worry about scheduling issues…

We’ll see how it pans out.

predators sign new forward

In Hockey, Sports on July 26, 2007 at 10:19 am

Predators have signed winger Martin Gelinas to a 1-year $1.25 million deal. (He’s coming off a 2-year $1.9mil deal with Florida).

Gelinas is coming to us from the Florida Panthers.
Last year he had 14 goals, 30 assists, (for 44 points) was +7 and had only 36 penalty minutes in all 82 games for the Panthers (averaged 13+ minutes of ice time last year). Looks like a good 2nd-3rd line winger and a penalty killer. Possibly a replacement for Scott Hartnell of sorts. Not a huge player (5-11, 202), but we already picked up size elsewhere this off-season.

He’s also an experienced veteran. At 37, he’s the oldest player on the Predators roster and has been playing professional hockey for longer than Radulov has been on the planet. He played for the Oilers, Nordiques, Canucks, Hurricanes, Flames, and Panthers. his peak year was in 96-97 when he finished with 68 points (35 goals, 33 assists). But he has been a consistent performer through his career, and it looks like recently he’s turned himself into a reliable two-way player, finishing with an average of 42 points and +8 over the last 5 years.

This signing uses up most of the salary-floor space we had left so i think Eklund’s newly posted update (this morning) of Foppa-to-Nashville possibilities are looking unlikely. Assuming that thePredators stay on the salary-floor, which i think is likely, at least until we get in to the season and see how the team and ticket sales are going…or if the sale of the team goes through and the new ownership (whoever it is) has money to spend.

The Forechecker and Paul McCann have posted their thoughts as well. Forechecker has some interesting looks at our possible line-ups for next year too.

Hockey trivia – the Predators site is listing Gelinas as one of the players traded to Edmonton from LA as a prospect for Wayne Gretzky back in 1988.

predators rumor update

In Hockey, Sports on July 25, 2007 at 11:31 am

Eklund just posted an updated version of his list of available free agents (ranked in order) and their possible destinations. As stated previously, the only player listed a few weeks ago was Jeremy Roenick.

Here’s our presence on the list now (with other possible destinations):

1. Peter Forsberg (Nashville, Vancouver, Detroit, Philadelphia)
21. Jan Bulis (Columbus, Nashville, Pittsburgh, Wash)
31. Jeremy Roenick (Toronto, Nashville, Ottawa)
32. Mike Johnson (Nashville,Phoenix, NYI, NJ)

It is very interesting of course to see Peter Forsberg added to the list. We have a good bit of room left to spend to get to the salary-cap floor, and supposedly Foppa really liked it here. Whether or not he’d give us another shot is another issue. He would be a huge boost to the team, both for fan draw and marketing, and would still be able to contribute on-ice as well (though i would pencil him in for only 50-games tops with his ongoing foot problems).

Jeremy Roenick i’ve already talked about.

Jan Bulis and Mike Johnson…interesting, but nothing special. These guys are more 3rd/4th line fodder (unless they have a breakout year) but do provide more good size (6’0″ and 6’2″).

I’m just happy to see us back on the shoppers list. Best of all, i still trust David Poile to put together the best possible team given his financial pressure.

It is a testament to his skills and deal structuring that we are still not to the cap floor yet and we are putting a team on the ice with Steve Sullivan, Jason Arnott, JP Dumont, Alexander Radulov, David Legwand, and Martin Erat up front and Zidlicky, Weber, Suter, Zanon, and Hamuis on defense – and a goalie that finished # 2 in the league in save percentage and 12th in shutouts, 10th in goals against.

All that for less than the salary floor.
He gets my (totally unbiased) vote for GM of the year if we get close to the playoffs.

video from predators rally

In Hockey, Nashville, Sports, Videos on July 20, 2007 at 8:04 am

[Check here for the latest Predators news]
[For more pictures of Eklund, look here]

I’m swamped catching up with things at work, but wanted to post the video i put together from last night’s rally.

If the video isn’t working, try this link.

In short:

  • Rally was fun, but not amazing (a little too short)
  • Turnout was great (though my inner fan-boy hoped for more)
  • Results were fantastic – tickets sold!
  • The Predators are staying
  • It felt really good to be back in the arena
  • I can’t wait for the new jumbotron…i was really disappointed it wasn’t installed yet.

More thoughts later…

Predators Rally Recap

In Hockey, Nashville, Sports on July 19, 2007 at 6:35 pm

Amazing. 700+ full season tickets*. Over 7000 people in attendance.
This team is staying.

Now the challenge is to sell even more seats so that the team can really be profitable and have the budget needed to put together a team that can win a cup.

104.5 had some of the leaders of the local ownership group on while i was driving home from the rally, and they said their goal would be to reinvest any overage or profits into the team. They weren’t looking at this as a money making venture (understatement of the year), but wanted the team to be successful and wanted the team to stay in Nashville so it could maintain its level of national and international respect.

Right now i am furiously trying to edit video. That will really show you what this was like.
Tons and tons of pictures coming soon.
If you want to browse through the raw stack, they are uploading to Flickr right now.

Oh – and i just made a comment on Eklund’s post thanking him for coming out, then linking to pictures of him at the event. The post was deleted and my posting rights on the site were suspended for 6 hours. This guy is serious about not wanting to be seen – or he is serious about not wanting people to post on his blog fishing for hits…which i understand. I guess. I just think it was funny.

This is a picture of him to the right.

No question, this was the picture of the night though:

As the governor later said…he may live to regret that picture :-)

Great photos of the event by Chris Wage too.

My full breakdown and recap tomorrow.

(* the equivalent of 700 full season ticket packages. Made up of full and partial packages)

predators ticket sales update

In Hockey, Nashville, Sports on July 19, 2007 at 10:59 am

For those looking for updates on the ticket sales, check Paul McCann’s blog.
He’s there all day, on the radio off and on.

I’m stuck in a training class at work otherwise i’d be posting my own updates.

So far, 202 new full season ticket equivalents (read: lots of full packages, but lots and lots of half and quarter packages).

It’s looking really good!

FYI: For anyone interested – I’ll have pictures going up live throughout on my Flickr stream.

predators license plate

In Hockey, Nashville, Sports on July 18, 2007 at 5:07 pm

Just in time for the Rally tomorrow – the Predators License Plate is here…well…90% here.
Just fill out this form, send it in with a $35 check, wait for 999 other people to do the same, then we get our plates! They will be accepting deposits at the Rally tomorrow as well.
This is what the plate should look like (taken from the PDF form online)
Pretty different from the other sports plates, and not much like what i predicted. But i like it.

rally is tomorrow – be there!

In Hockey, Nashville, Sports on July 18, 2007 at 2:43 pm

Some great posts around the web about the Predators Rally tomorrow.

Seriously – all you bloggers out there that love “live blogging” and you photographers (i’m looking at you Wage) need to show up. This is going to be big. You don’t want to miss it. My wife will probably be there off and on all day photographing the festivities.

For the Rally itself, we will be sitting with the rest of Cell Block 303 in section 103 if you want to come meet us. We’ll be one of about 8,000 people wearing our jerseys. Mine doesn’t have a name on it.

Misc Notes:
Hockey blogging celebrity Eklund just made a long, impassioned, very impressive post about why Nashville is a great hockey city, and explained why he is flying down to support the Rally (scroll down a bit to read the main part about Nashville).

Predators P.A. announcer and hockey-radio personality Paul McCann has made a few posts as well.

This event is going to be great.

Even if you aren’t a Predators fan – especially if you aren’t a Predators fan – this is a great time to come down to the arena for free – get inside, and see what this is all about.

It has been confirmed that players Ryan Suter, Chris Mason, Vern Fiddler, and Scott Nichol (at least) will be in attendance, that the new uniforms will be debuted, and that the ice pack and rival packs will be announced. No word on whether or not the new multi-million dollar high-def jumbotron has been installed yet. (It is supposed to go in sometime “this summer”).

To make things even better, it is looking more and more like tomorrow will be a party to welcome (if unofficially at that point) our new local ownership. The local ownership team met with Leipold and NHL officials today in New York and apparently the meeting went well.

104.5 The Zone will be broadcasting all day live from the Sommet Center.

Here’s their broadcast schedule of the day (from Paul McCann):
6am-10am – The Wake Up Zone with Frank Wycheck, Kevin Ingram, and Mark Howard. Predators player guests will be on

10am-2pm – Nashville Predators Insiders hosted by Willy Daunic and Pete Weber, and Paul McCann…possibly Eklund…?

Box Lunches will be available for only $5 from 11am – 1:30pm

2pm-6pm – The Sports Zone
George Plaster and Darren McFarland with Mike Coyne, Rick Regen, Butch Spyridon, and Ralph Shulz

6pm-7pm – THE RALLY
The Rally will be held on the floor of The Sommet Center… wear your Predator finest and prepare to get crazy!

7pm-9pm – The Sports Zone with George Plaster, Willy Daunic, and Darren McFarland


While we’re back on the topic of hockey, On The Forecheck has some interesting thoughts about what the addition of teams in Kansas City and Las Vegas would mean to re-aligning the league. Includes pretty pictures.

Update: The Predators just agreed to terms with Vern Fiddler, the last player on last years roster not accounted for through resigning, trade, or signing with someone else. This still leaves the Preds $1.5 million+ left to spend to get the salary floor. We’re gonna be a very good team for one with that low a payroll.

jeremy roenick a predator?

In Hockey, Nashville, Sports on July 16, 2007 at 2:45 pm

Now this is an interesting theory.

This morning James Mirtle posted that former Blackhawk/Flyer/King/Coyote, Jeremy Roenick, may not be retiring after all. Then this afternoon, hockey blogger extraordinare, Eklund, posted his updated list of unrestricted free agents and included Roenick on that list, and listed Nashville as a possible destination (the only player on the list with Nashville as a destination).

For those that don’t know, Roenick is something of a controversial player. Not exactly a dirty player, but a whiner and a talker. Mostly a talker. Picture an NBA player drafted out of high-school but in a 37 year old hockey players very worn out body. On the ice he is nothing compared to what he once was, which wasn’t a whole lot to begin with.

So, would Roenick signing with the Predators be something that fans want?

I think yes.

This may sound strange, from a fan that normally is all for the well behaved, mature, quiet teams. But think about it from this point of view: Nashville needs not only a successful team, but 1) vocal leadership 2) a face to the franchise 3) coverage from local and national media.

Roenick brings all of these, but especially #3. The scene at the right is where he would be most useful. Having him on the team guarantees sound-bytes worthy of Sportscenter and the local news. If nothing else, i think it would make for an interesting season. The only possible down side would be if he became too negative on Nashville, but considering how long he’s played in Phoenix, Nashville is Toronto by comparison.

Maybe that’s where we spend our extra cap money…

He could also come in, alienate fans, and kill any sense of team-unity the Predators have.

I’m glad i’m not the GM.


In related news (and yet another reminder):
The great Eklund himself will be coming to Nashville on Thursday for the Rally. Even more reason to be there! We gotta show him that Nashville fans will show up!

predators sign more players

In Hockey, Sports on July 16, 2007 at 1:29 pm

The Forechecker just pointed me to the Tennessean article with good news: The Predators just resigned Zanon, Klein, and Hordichuck.

I left a long comment on his post, and here it is – my thoughts on the signings:

I love getting Zanon back.
Klein will be a big part too.

Hordichuck – that one’s for the fans. He’s a duplicate player with Tootoo, really doesn’t add anything to the team besides a great personality and a radio show – which is why he was signed.

Zanon will be huge though. He is a bargain, but i’d have paid him 50% more than that if that’s what it took. He is a defenders defender and a big part of our penalty kill (which is going to get even more work this year).

I think it will be really interesting to see who else we pick up with the few extra million left to hit the cap floor. Probably waiting to see who he can grab coming out of arbitration (like JP Dumont previously). My only question about that is that though those players are solid, they are not the ‘bargain’ players. By the nature of the arbitration/UFA process, they are usually paid on the high-side of what they are worth.

I agree, we’re slightly more balanced this year, and most importantly a playoff team.

Reminder: The big rally for the Preds is this Thursday! Be there!

new look hockey

In Hockey, Sports on July 13, 2007 at 8:01 am

If you don’t remember, or haven’t heard, the NHL is rolling out new uniforms across the whole league for this next year. New material, new cut to the sweaters, etc. The new look was debuted at the All-Star game this last year (for all 26 of you that watched). Should be a real upgrade for the players.

The Predators will be showing off their version of the new suits for the first time at the rally on the 19th. That is also going to be when they announce which games will be a part of the ice packs, rival packs, and half-season packages. So – be there! (or at least listen to the radio and buy some tickets)


In somewhat related news, the Sharks just rolled out their revised logo for next year: ewww. Isn’t really a change, so not sure why they bothered. Just a little more anime looking.

predators news

In Hockey, Nashville, Sports on July 10, 2007 at 7:21 pm

It’s been a whole three days since i last posted about the Predators, and there actually has been some news today, so here’s a big huge update:

City Paper had a great article* today about how he thinks we will actually be pretty good this year and that we could surprise people “the most talented team does not always win the Stanley Cup”. Of course he’s the coach, he has to say that. But i agree. We certainly have a better team than our first playoff year when we barely made it in. And that team actually won two games in the first round before getting knocked out, as opposed to just one game the last two years. With Arnott being one of our main guys up front, and trading Hartnell and Timonen for Bonk and de Vires, we are a much bigger team overall. I will be really curious to see if we keep going after more size with other free agents or prospect call-ups. Though after seeing him in camp last year, don’t hold your breath for 6’7″ Yonkman to be in the lineup regularly.

Speaking of camp…
Here’s the schedule so far (finally announced today!!!)
Training Camp starts Sept 13th
     with testing and physicals at the Sommet Center
First open, on-ice session will be Sept 14th
     at Centennial Sportsplex (as usual)

The Preseason was also announced today. Looks like an all South East schedule for us, which is kinda fun. I really wish we were in a division with all these teams. Would really help build the sport in the south i think (all the SEC’ers would be more likely to get into it). But the NHL is so eastern heavy that Nashville, Columbus, and Detroit are all in the Western Conference. How nuts is that. Anyway – i’m hoping to go visit some friends in Atlanta for the pre-season game there, but we’ll have to see since its a “school” night.

NASHVILLE PREDATORS 2007 PRESEASON SCHEDULE
Day Date Opponent Site Time (CDT)
Sunday Sept. 16 Columbus Blue Jackets Nationwide Arena 4:00 PM
Thursday Sept. 20 Atlanta Thrashers Sommet Center 7:00 PM
Friday Sept. 21 Carolina Hurricanes RBC Center 6:00 PM
Saturday Sept. 22 Carolina Hurricanes Sommet Center 7:00 PM
Tuesday Sept. 25 Atlanta Thrashers Philips Arena 6:00 PM
Saturday Sept. 29 Columbus Blue Jackets Sommet Center 7:00 PM

I also just got the latest email update from Section 303.
Lots of “Save the Predators” events going on. I’m just going to do a cut and paste for ya here…

1) IF YOU DON’T HAVE ANY, GET SOME SEASON TIX..OR ADD-ON!
http://www.seats3d.com/nhl/nashville_predators

2) COME TO THE BIG “SAVE THE PREDATORS” RALLY ON THUR. JULY 19.
Sponsored by 104.5 “The Zone” and OurTeamNashville.com, this event at the Sommet Center (the new name for the Nashville Arena) will be an all-day affair from 6 AM to 8 PM, but they want to pack the arena out at 6:00 PM. There will be tons of media coverage for this so we want to see the joint rockin’!

The event will be inside to avoid any problems with inclement weather. Folks will be able to roam around the arena to look at season ticket locations. Current Predators players will be on hand to answer phones and help sell tix.

More info:
http://www.1045thezone.com/?pid=6506

If you would like to volunteer to help at the rally, go to:
http://www.ourteamnashville.com
Phone: 615-259-4754

3) SAVE THE PREDATORS BENEFIT CONCERT
(was tonight at the Rutledge)

4) BUY A NASHVILLE LOVE HOCKEY WRISTBAND
Price is $5.00 and 70% of the money goes to buying tickets for worthy groups. For more info go to:
http://www.nashvilleloveshockey.com

5) ZANIES SHOW 7/25 TO SAVE THE PREDS
Featuring Patti Vasquez
Wed. July 25 at 7:30 (doors open at 6:00–seating first come, fist served)
Tickets are $16.00
100% of proceeds go to SavethePredators.com
Call 615-269-0221 to reserve seats

6) SIGN THE PETITION TO SAVE THE PREDATORS
http://www.petitiononline.com/19972007/petition.html

7) FILL OUT THE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE SURVEY ABOUT THE PREDATORS
http://www.nashvillechamber.com/predators/

Like i said, the concert for SaveThePredators.com was tonight. We didn’t go, but Christy and i did order shirts from the site to support the effort. They aren’t anything special and i don’t know if i’ll ever where it in public (i have about 6 Predators shirts that are cooler and i have to wear collared shirts to work now), but it’s nice enough. Anyway…interesting thing is that the City Paper announced the concert. Had a little write-up next to the main Predators article.


And for those still trying to keep track of the off-ice Predators news, On The Forecheck just posted that the Nashville Post is reporting that Jim Balsillie is apparently out of the running for purchasing the Predators. It is now just down to “Boots” (the Kansas City guy) and the local offer. I like the idea proposed that they may combine. Of course, there is also always the possibility that Leipold will decide to work with the local group to do what he asked for way back in the spring – partial ownership from locals. No one took that talk seriously back then, and now suddenly this group has to play catch-up. How different might this have all looked if a few of these local businessmen had just stepped up with a few million back then?

I wonder if one person can own a minority stake in two NHL clubs at the same time? I’m not sure why “Boots” would want to trade a small share of the Sharks for a share of the Predators. I mean, i love the Preds, but the Sharks are a stronger team financially than we are right now.


* Of course, i would love to link to the Preds article in the City Paper, or the write-up on the concert tonight – but noooo. The City Paper’s new online version (as cool as that is) keeps me from linking to it. I like that i can now see the pictures (the old site had no pics) but how the heck am i supposed to bring them extra readers if i can’t link to their articles?!

more players, more video

In Hockey, Sports, Videos on July 2, 2007 at 4:24 pm

First, the quick news that the Predators picked up the first new additions that may be said to be ‘real’ players. I think it is also safe to assume that David Poile saw what the Ducks did in the playoffs with their size and decided to follow suit.

Defenseman Greg de Vires (ex-Predator) is a 6-2 220lbs defenders defenseman. Low on scoring, but high on ice time last year for Atlanta (22+ minutes per game, played in all 82 games). Looks like a huge presence on the blueline to go with our young core.

Forward Radek Bonk is 6-3 213lbs, played for Montreal and appeared in 74 games last year, registering 23 points. He was once a 70-point man with Ottawa back in 2000-2001 and has solid playoff experience.

We also signed a few more prospects, though they are unlikely to see any ice time at the NHL level anytime soon. For pictures of them at practice yesterday, see here.


Also, courtesy of Rob over at Think Train, here’s a cool new video with none other than Pete Weber, encouraging everyone to come down to the Sommet Center and support the team on July 19th.

kariya goes for money, certainty

In Hockey, Sports on July 2, 2007 at 9:30 am

Paul Kariya has signed with the St Louis Blues for way more money than the Predators could offer him.

So much for him wanting to play for a contender. The Blues will be a playoff team next year, but not much else. Given their overall weakness in the past few years, i think this is a lateral move in terms of competitiveness. I think it is clear that Kariya signed with them not as a contender, but as a team willing to pay him more and with a stable ownership situation.

And it looks like all the speculation (which i agreed with) that Kariya would avoid a major hockey market because he doesn’t like too much of a spotlight was dead on. No Vancouver, Montreal, etc. He moved to one of the markets in the league that has averaged lower attendance than Nashville in recent years.

Oh – and the on-ice sessions at prospect camp were canceled today. No reason given that i have heard.

we still have a team you know

In Hockey, Pictures, Sports, Videos on July 1, 2007 at 7:27 pm

It is easy to get caught up in all the soap opera and debate and forget that we still have a really good hockey team in Nashville, and it is not too long until they will be playing the game that we have all been working so hard to defend.

We will still be able to put a very competitive team on the ice. Offensively we still have Sullivan, Arnott, Dumont, Erat, Legwand, and Radulov coming into his second year in the league. Defensively we still have Weber, Suter, Zidlicky, Zanon, Hamuis, Nichol, and Mason in net.

And GM David Poile has proved himself a master at doing a lot with a little. We won’t have the amazing team we had last year, especially depth-wise. But if we can stay healthy, i think we are still a playoff team, and could even surprise a few people. Predators fans know very well that the team that is supposed to be the best doesn’t always win. I’d like to think that this year we can be on the good side of that coin, considering we’ve seen enough of the bad.

So, now to the updates: First, a quick round-up of some of the player/contract updates to this point. The Predators have (as expected) laid pretty low as far as going after free agents. Only signing as of right now has been forward Jed Ortmeyer as a free agent (formerly of the Rangers). Don’t know much about him, but his bio lists him as a ‘defensive forward’. We also resigned Scot Nichol, Jered Smithson, and Alex Henry. Nichol, Zanon, and Smithson ensure that we’ll have a solid penalty kill again. Henry is as big a defender as we’ve had for the Preds in a long time, and his chances of seeing some NHL time this year are increased thanks to a thin roster. We’re also about to sign Chris Mason to a much needed pay raise/extension, keeping him with the team for the next 3 years total. We also inked his ‘new’ back-up Pekka Rinne to a new deal as well.

Last but not least, I finally got a chance to drop by prospect conditioning camp this morning. (9:00am on a Sunday. What are you thinking Trotz? Check here for my comments on that.)

Pictures are scattered through this post with many more here.
Video is here:

Predators Prospect Camp.

The video on Google turned out rough. It is actually much better quality. The horribly scratched-up glass wrecked havoc on the flash video codec. If you really want the high-quality video, let me know and i can post it.

It was great to get to watch hockey being played again. The session was run by assistants, but Trotz and Poile were both there (photo proof here).

As for players:

Hornqvist is a Radulov-type firecracker with even rougher edges. Scoring touch, but is a goofball. Good skills but looked silly (even tripping a few times) trying to show off a little. You can see in this in the video pretty well, actually. The whole session was blue vs. white. Hornqvist was going last for blue and only needed one goal to beat white for that session. When he got it, it cheered and stuck his arms up in the air – even though he had several more session of the drill he was supposed to do. He forgot this was practice, not just a contest. So…good competitive fire, but i have to wonder about discipline and control.

The other players looked pretty good. Only other one that stood out a lot was Atte Engren, a young goalie from Finland. He may have just been having a good day, but he looked the best and most under control of the goalies. The rest made the occasional cool-looking save, but he looked the most like Mason and Vokoun in my limited experience.

Oh and best mullet in camp (and there weren’t many) goes to Antti Pihlstrom. I think as much as anything because it’s bright blonde hair against dark blue sweater and helmet. Runner up goes to Viktor Sjodin, but he gets the award for looking the most like a caveman from a car-insurance commercial. At least in this picture.

No word yet on when big-kids training camp starts. It’ll be mid-September. I’ll be sure to let you know the dates when it is announced.

You are also all here on notice that i am not going to keep posting on every little off-ice thing that happens. Just the big stuff. Try watching Kuklas’ Korner, TSN, or the Nashville Post for that kind of news (heaven knows you shouldn’t look to the Tennessean for it). I am going to try to focus on on-ice related news and comments when it comes to the Predators from here on in.

player update

In Hockey, Sports on June 29, 2007 at 11:04 am

We do actually have a hockey team in Nashville, not just a franchise that is being fought over.

The Timmins Daily press is reporting on its native son, Steve Sullivan, and his recovery from back problems that kept him out of the later part of the season and the playoffs last year. No huge updates from what i can see. The article itself is truncated for their online version, though Kuklas Korner has some other excerpts cited as well.

Basically it looks like Sully is doing well, but they are still having to work on his back.

In semi-related news: Peter Forsberg is going under the knife again. Doctors in his native Sweden will be working on his foot to see if they can rebuild the thing. I personally doubt he will play hockey next year, and if he does it will be for Colorado, making a rousing ‘come back’ in January or so. He doesn’t have full seasons left in him, but there is no question he was still a very good player for us last year at season’s end and in the playoffs. Sadly, i think one of the biggest factors in his wanting to return is that he won’t want to retire with his last moments having been playing for a team for 2 months, getting knocked out in the first round, and sitting out the final moments of his career (literally) in the penalty box. Not a way for someone like him to go down.

talkin’ hockey

In Blog Stuff, Hockey, Sports on June 29, 2007 at 8:54 am

I just left this long segment as a reply to James Mirtle’s response to my request – i asked him why he seemed to not want hockey in the US, etc. read here for the original exchange. James is a sports writer for the Globe and Mail in Toronto, so he knows what he’s talking about. My question was not argumentative, but serious. Thankfully, James replied in kind and i appreciate his response.

Read here for his response post.

Now here’s mine:

James,

Thank you for your response. You’ve been very civil and thoughtful in our discussions and i really appreciate that. It is not always the case in other places.

I also appreciate your response. I’m starting to think we don’t disagree as much as i thought we did.

I don’t think Kansas City would be a good place for the NHL to go. I think Las Vegas, with the additional media attention and cache that being the first NHL franchise would bring would be a huge lift to the league. I don’t think Las Vegas would be a very profitable team immediately as a team in Hamilton would be, but there are considerations other than immediate profit that would benefit the league.

Let me also be clear on this: I do not think the Bettman has been a good commissioner.

I think he has done a horrible job and squandered the NHL’s position in the larger sports market for years. But i don’t think contraction to instant-profit Canadian cities is the solution either.

The league is profitable as it is, subsidized by the Canadian teams. If i have never thanked Canada as a whole and the fans there for making the Nashville Predators possible (and i don’t think i have) let me do so right now. I have no illusions as to what makes it possible for me to go and watch the team.

The one point you make that i disagree with is that attendance is the problem in Nashville. It is not. Could attendance be better? Yes. But lets assume for a moment that the Predators had sold out every single game last year – and for good measure raised ticket prices 15%. The team lost $15mil last year. That extra ticket revenue wouldn’t cover $1.5mil of that gap (more like half that).

The problem for the Predators and for much of the league as a whole is one of marketing and sponsorships. That was the point i made in my post yesterday. The NBA has learned how to make money on everything they do. The NHL on the other hand (at least the Predators and many other teams) rely on tickets and t-shirts. They seem to be waiting for the businesses to beat down their door and throw money at them. That may happen in Canada, but that simply doesn’t happen in US markets when you are competing against the NFL, NBA, and MLB for revenue.

Contrary to your conclusion (that Hamilton= money and Bettman should follow it) I think Bettman follows the money too much. His biggest failure has been there. Not in trying to spread hockey to new markets, but in expecting those markets to support themselves and be instantly adopted. Bettman expects the fans to come to him, to find the league wherever it is.

Best example of this is the US TV deal. He should have sold the rights to the first post-lockout season to ESPN for $1 (even $1 Canadian). Instead he went for the higher rates that the OLN was willing to pay.

It is all about brand and associating yourself with winners. Bettman has not been able to do that.

balsillie out?

In Hockey, Nashville, Sports on June 28, 2007 at 6:35 am

At this point i am skeptical and i don’t have time to read every single report, but i have awakened to many new articles this morning saying that Leipold has nixed the Balsillie deal, but is instead selling to William “Boots” DelBiaggio who will take the team to Kansas City (if we don’t sell enough tickets).

My initial thoughts:
First, i’m glad to have Balsillie out. As much as he is a hockey guy and will be a fun owner some day, he has also proved himself to be an inconsiderate jerk. Balsillie wanted/wants a team in Canada badly, but most of all i think he wanted to be a hockey owner. If the Preds sell enough tickets this year, i think he would be satisfied staying in Nashville, just happy to be an owner. DelBiaggio on the other hand is not really a hockey guy (though he is a partial owner of a minor league team).

Interestingly, DelBiaggio just said last week that he was not interested in going after the Predators since this “was Jim’s deal”. Apparently either 1) he was lying through his teeth and just upped his offer or 2) Leipold knows that the Balsillie deal and move to Hamilton was not going to be approved by the league, which i think is more likely.

This isn’t much better for Predators fans, except that our new potential owner has shown more discretion than Balsillie, at least to this point. however, DelBiaggio just wants to take a team to Kansas City. If he succeeds, Kansas City will be even worse than Nashville in terms of number of pro teams per capita, unless you don’t count the Royals, which is certainly an argument to be made. Either way the league will be moving in to another NFL dominated market, only this time the NFL team is long established, instead of starting out 2 years behind the NHL team like they did in Nashville.

Can hockey succeed in Kansas City? Well, they tried it once and it didn’t work, but that was a long time ago. I think it could succeed, but the NHL shouldn’t think that it will be any easier there than in Nashville. And now they will be starting all over.

Oh, and of course all the local papers just have news about the local investors still trying to get another big name for their bid for the team. Maybe all this is why i couldn’t sleep last night.

Update:
Leipold’s official response to all of this:
“We are currently free to explore any and all options regarding the sale of the Nashville Predators. However, until and unless there is a binding agreement in place, we do not plan to comment on the status of Predators ownership. We will not comment on rumors and speculation.”

In other Predators news:
Paul McCann has a post up about the top prospects at came that started yesterday.
And the Tennessean is reporting that newly-crowned starting goalie Chris Mason just bought season tickets in an effort to save the team in Nashville.

predators open practice

In Hockey, Sports on June 25, 2007 at 6:09 pm

Just a quick note: The Predators Prospect Conditioning Camp schedule has apparently been announced. I can’t find it any place official, but i’ve seen it posted on some other forums, etc.

All on-ice workouts at Centennial Sportsplex are open to the public.
On-ice sessions are currently scheduled for: (updated courtesy of Paul McCann)

Thursday, June 28 (All players) 2:45 p.m.-3:45 p.m.

Friday, June 29 (Goaltenders) 10:45 a.m.-11:45 a.m.

Saturday, June 30 (Goaltenders) 2:15 p.m. (All players) 3:00 p.m.

Sunday, July 1 (All players) 9:00 a.m.

Monday, July 2 (All players) 2:00 p.m.-3:30 p.m.

The most famous type players that will be in attendance here will be Cody Franson, Blake Geffreon, and our new picks from this year’s draft.

But it is still an excuse to see some guys on the ice.

As soon as i find out the rest of the schedule (the sessions go through Monday) or when i hear anything about the ‘real’ training camp, i’ll be sure to post it here.

ahead of schedule

In Hockey, Nashville, Sports on June 25, 2007 at 7:13 am

The Tennessean is reporting that the Predators are well ahead of their normal pace when it comes to season ticket sales. Renewals are about the same as this time last year, with 67% of the previous season’s STH renewing so far (those figures climb as the season gets closer). The really great news is the new season ticket sales. The Predators have already sold the equivalent of 1,000 new season tickets (through a mixture of full and partial packages). Last year at this time the team had sold 750 new season ticket packages.

This is HUGE! There are several other initiatives still just getting started, and two ticket selling events planned that haven’t even happened yet – the concert on the 10th, and the all-day ticket-thon and rally that 104.5 is doing at the Sommet center (and on-air for 13 straight hours) on the 19th. I also have to say i love how these groups are raising money to buy tickets that will then be donated to charity groups in town.

The best thing about all of this is that even without those events we’re already ahead of last year, when we only fell 185 tickets short of the magic 14,000 number. If the rallies and ticket-thon that 104.5 is planning have any level of success, then things are looking very good indeed for keeping the Predators here.

Of course, the other major benefit of all of this, is that with all of these high-visbility campaigns and large numbers of the public showing up for events, local businesses are getting a chance to see that the Predators have rabid fans and that sponsoring and advertising with the team (aside from buying tickets for themselves) make business sense, which will help the team be more profitable and viable in the future – whoever owns the team.


Predators prospect conditioning camp opens tomorrow! It runs June 26th – July 2nd. All of our new draft picks and several other prospects are expected to be in attendance. They will be held at the Centennial Sportsplex, but no word on what if any times they will be having workouts that are open to the public.

Also no work on when training camp will be yet. I’m saving up a vacation day or two ;-)

not alone in our fight

In Blog Stuff, Friends, Hockey, Me, Nashville, Sports on June 24, 2007 at 9:08 pm

I just received a fabulous note from Jim Henshaw (Canadian TV writer/actor/etc). In short, it was his response to the pending sale of the Predators and the mess surrounding it – and he ties in lessons he learned when he had a chance to hear Fred Rogers (as in “Mister Rogers”) speak years ago. As a huge fan of Mister Rogers, this really hit home for me.

His note really made my day, and his piece on the Predators gave me hope. With the chaos that has been happening lately, i was really starting to get fatigued defending my fandom and my city. And though i keep telling all my friends ‘we have a chance’ and ‘we control our own destiny’, in my heart i was beginning to get discouraged. This piece reminded me that, while reality is still what it is and we have an uphill battle, i can at least rest knowing that not everyone outside of Nashville is against us. Thanks Jim.

His writing is superb (surprise), if a little long. So from here, with his permission, i’ll just let Jim do the talking:

Paul,
I finally posted my thoughts on Jim Balsillie. It’s part of a much longer post on Canadian TV, but I wanted to give you the chance to share it with Nashville fans… All my best on the fight to keep the team. Believe it or not, a lot of Canadians are with you.


HOW RICH BOYS BREAK THEIR TOYS

A cold snap hit New Orleans on the opening day of The 1997 NATPE Convention. Within hours, the trendy men’s wear store across from the Convention Center had sold out its entire stock of overcoats, sweaters and gloves as the California contingent snapped up anything they could find to fend off the bitter chill.

Inside the cavernous meeting halls, attendance was slim for the early morning panels and lectures, as attendees opted to breakfast in the comfort of their hotels before venturing to the icy banks of the Mississippi. Television luminaries from franchise showrunners to network heads found handfuls instead of hoards awaiting the insights and information they had come to deliver.

All except one.

Fred Rogers took the stage at the final breakfast meeting, accepting a Lifetime Achievement Award to a standing ovation from several thousand television execs who had either grown up or watched their children grow up in his neighborhood.

Wearing his trademark sweater and sneakers, the man who once said, “I went into television because I hated it so.” was as gentle and ego-less as he had been for more than 30 years in the public eye.

But “Mr. Rogers” didn’t want to talk about making television for children or share anecdotes from his career that morning. He wanted to talk about the people in that room — and what was wrong with us.

Arriving at New Orleans airport, he’d noticed the squadrons of private planes parked on every spare patch of runway. He’d seen the long lines of limos outside and had toured the lavish sales displays of the world’s networks and studios. He wondered what any of it had to do with making good television.

As the hushed room hung on his every word, he read a poem. I don’t know whether it was something he’d penned some time before or on the spur of the moment. But it was about kids defining themselves and their status by their toys, instead of sharing the best that was inside them. It concluded with a wonderful line…”Remember your toys aren’t you — your toys are beside you.”

Two events of the last couple of weeks got me thinking about that speech. The first was the sale and subsequent dismembering of the CHUM/CITY empire. The second is the ongoing hockey soap opera as Canadian Billionaire Jim Balsillie attempts to buy and move the Nashville Predators to Hamilton.

It’s far too early to know for certain how either of these events will finally play themselves out. But in both cases, they feel like the triumph of money, power and ego over something that was special and good and more important to the future.

[Here, again with Jim's permission, i will skip over the discussion of Canadian TV mergers, etc. While it is of no small importance in its impact, even here in the US, most of you won't know the background. I encourage you to read Jim's original piece to get the full story - he has a lot of good things to say. Sufficed to say, large media companies are buying up others and programming could/may/will suffer.]

My big fear is that they’ll beat each other up acquiring US programming that comes with a more or less quantifiable return; rather than invest in programming they can actually own and fully exploit in the future.

But then Guys with money wouldn’t have money if they didn’t know what they were doing and success always breeds success, right?

Which brings me to Jim Balsillie, Billionaire owner of Research in Motion, creator of the Blackberry and aspiring NHL owner.

Jim (and I can call him Jim because we Jims are informal that way) bid on and backed away from purchasing the Pittsburgh Penguins a few months ago. Depending on which story you believe, either he or the NHL killed the deal over his plan to move the franchise to Hamilton.

Now he’s bidding $50 million more than the Nashville Predators are worth with the same plan in mind. The conventional wisdom is that his offer vastly increases both the paper value of all current NHL franchises as well as what can be charged bidders for expansion teams. Therefore, Jim’s made all the other owners a ton of money just by turning up with his wallet, so how can they say “No” to him?

His first move after over-bidding for the franchise was to tell Commissioner Gary Bettman he wasn’t moving the team and his next was to sign an arena deal in Hamilton and start selling season tickets.

This puts him in conflict with the League’s bylaws, the Commissioner, the Fans of Nashville as well as the two current franchises (Toronto and Buffalo) whose local jurisdiction intersects the city of Hamilton. In layman’s terms, this means Jim can’t move there without infringing on their existing fan bases, television penetration and God Given right to print money without interruption.

According to what passes for wisdom on Sports radio stations, this may all sound duplicitous and dumb when Jim doesn’t even own the team yet. But he’s “a real smart businessman who doesn’t make mistakes”, and “has pockets deep enough to win this fight”.

In other words, he’s the richest guy, so he should get to make the rules.

Well, for starters, Jim’s a really smart businessman who paid $450 Million to another software firm a couple of years back for patent violations in the design of the Blackberry. He dragged that suit out, because he was the big dog, when he probably had the option to settle earlier and for much less. Only when a federal court in the US began considering a ban on Blackberry service did Jim cave — and then the patent holder turned the screws a little more to maximize his own profit.

Somehow, all that doesn’t strike me as the mark of a smart businessman.

I heard a friend of Jim’s interviewed this week, relating a story that was also quite telling. By all accounts, Jim’s a real nice guy (his name’s Jim, how can he not be) but after losing a $20 bet on a golf game, he apparently was almost beside himself. The friend told him to relax, it was only $20. Jim’s heated response, “No! It’s not!”

Rich guys. Money buys deference. But it doesn’t make you something you’re not.

And if you look at the big picture, selling a team to Jim and moving it to Hamilton could be one of the worst things that could happen to the NHL.

Maybe hockey isn’t thriving in Nashville, but it’s doing better than it was 10 years ago. New fans are constantly finding the game. They may not provide the immediate gratification an owner would find in Hamilton, Winnipeg, Halifax or anywhere else in Canada. But to grow, a sport needs to cultivate new fans, not just keep preaching to the same choir.

The NHL is hoping to expand to Houston, Kansas City and Las Vegas, where producer Jerry Bruckheimer wants to place a team. None of those are hockey hotbeds. But they are large and viable markets that can further expand the fan base and make a major American television deal for the NHL more likely.

One has to wonder how much that TV deal is jeopardized if the Nashville market is lost by Jim moving the team. And one also has to wonder if expansion to the cities mentioned makes sense at the current $190 Million price tag, but much less if the price cranks up (because of Jim’s overbid) to $220 or $240 Million.

More kids are playing hockey every year in the US. This year the top picks in the Junior draft were all Americans. These kids are going to need new places to play or all that hard work, training and growth of a fan base will have been for naught.

But the Canadian fan who just wants a local rooting interest doesn’t care about those things. Hell, as a frustrated Leafs fan, I wish Jim would move the Predators to Toronto. It’s been a long time since we had a real NHL team in this city!

But here’s what money talking in this instance could mean…

Atlanta sees Hamilton do well in the hockey mad Golden Horseshoe and moves to Niagara Falls. Tampa decides to set up shop in Mississauga; both places offering access to larger markets than Winnipeg or Quebec City.

Given the rule changes Jim would have to force to make his move, neither he nor the league would be able to prevent these eventualities. And suddenly, Jim’s team isn’t making money either — and what the nets are paying for TV rights becomes as fragmented as the local market.

If you want an example of where this already exists, look at Australian Rules Football, an incredibly wild and exciting game that was born in Melbourne. Today, Melbourne is home to 9 of the AFL’s 17 teams. That’s right. Half the league is in one city. And while Melbourne has more than enough crazed fans to fill its stadiums, when half the games are only of rabid interest in one location, there’s no money in National broadcasts. So the game has never grown as it should have.

Adding another team in the Ontario TV market can only further fragment already declining audience numbers for the Leafs and the Sabres. God knows what it’ll do to Ottawa, who have been the poor cousins for 12 years in a local market already splintered by Montreal and Toronto.

So if Jim gets what his money says he should have, he may actually hurt the financial base of two Canadian teams that are currently making money and a team in Buffalo that’s on the bubble.

I can’t believe I actually agree with Gary Bettman on something! I might be required to turn in my passport.

The problem with our world is that it’s all about money, numbers and market share. Too many good things wither because people with money can’t see an immediate return.

Which brings me back to Fred Rogers…

Through the 1950′s, Mr. Rogers wasn’t very successful with his concept of using television to “nurture” those who watched it. Then in 1963, he moved to Toronto, where he had been contracted by the CBC for a 15 minute children’s program entitled “MisteRogers” (sic) in which he made his on camera debut.

The show was a hit with kids, but 3 years later, the CBC decided it knew better and that its money was better spent elsewhere, canceling the show. Fred moved back to Pittsburgh, launching the identical concept as “Mister Rogers Neighborhood”. Four decades of children later, his sweater and sneakers reside in a place of honor in the Smithsonian Institute along with the trolley, Eiffel tower, tree and castle that were created by CBC Designers.

The Guys with the Gold will always make the Rules. But money is short-sighted and rarely gives worthwhile endeavors a chance. What endures and makes a difference in life does not come from the toys. It comes from people who care about more than that.

“Remember. Your toys are not you. They are beside you.”

Great piece Jim.
Thank you so much for sharing it.

be still my heart

In Hockey, Nashville, Sports on June 22, 2007 at 8:15 pm

It’s been quite a night.

First things first – the picture to the right is of a fan at the NHL draft in Columbus, OH.
This man is my hero.

Now…to the rest of the night’s craziness.

Apparently while we were over at a friends watching the finale of Stargate SG-1 (more on that later) there were rumors flying around that Craig Leipold sent a note to the NHL saying he didn’t want to sell to Balsillie anymore. One person was even kind enough to comment about it on my blog (i really appreciate that!).

I can’t tell you how happy i was about this at the moment. I don’t absolutely despise Balsillie (yet at least), but the reasons that were supposedly given in the letter were that Leipold didn’t want to sell the team to Balsillie since he was so clearly not going to give the team a chance in Nashville. That means that not only was Balsillie essentially out of the picture, but that Leipold would prefer a Nashville centric-owner.

Unfortunately it turns out that reality was a little more predictable. Leipold sent a letter to the NHL, but it only said that the NHL need not pursue its background checks, and continue with paperwork on Balsillie until Balsillie enters into a binding agreement with him – which would include a deposit.

Now, my guess here is that reality lays somewhere in between.

Leipold needs money. He isn’t broke mind you, but he wants the financial albatross that is the Predators off his back (i love the team but it’s the truth). I also believe that he would like to see the Predators ultimately succeed in Nashville (though not too badly). I think he is using this to put pressure on Balsillie, but more specifically to let him know that he is not very happy with what Balsillie has been doing. Balsillie has the money. He could write a check for the full $220mil in cash right now, so it isn’t about not trusting Balsillie’s seriousness or financial standing.

I think this is Leipold’s way of putting Balsillie on notice that he is absolutely willing entertaining offers from other suitors that would be more willing to give the Predators a chance in Nashville. Or at least other suitors that won’t be jerks about moving the team. This is supported by the fact that the Nashville post is quoting someone ‘who would know’ that Leipold is willing to offer something of a “Nashville discount” to someone who would keep the team here. Possibly something in the $180mil area instead of the $220-240mil that Balsillie is reported to be offering, but that those discussions were also before Balsillie’s offer came through.

Trouble is, i’m not sure who any prospective local owner would be. Unless someone rides out of nowhere, we aren’t hearing any great news out of the camp of local businessmen trying to raise $125mil so that they can then borrow the remaining $60-100mil needed to buy the team. Honestly, if the group 1) has no significant leader and 2) doesn’t have enough money to buy the team that isn’t financially solvent, then the NHL won’t approve that sale. Whoever buys the Preds is going to have to have a minimum of $250-300mil at their disposal. It will be years before this team turns a profit – unless Leipold is lying through his teeth about recent financials for the team. Which, while i admit is a very very distinct possibility, i am still unwilling to believe is true.


On the subject of lying – one more comment about the Vokoun trade.
It makes absolute sense on the ice. Get picks and free cap space to bring in better players and move a slightly overpaid goalie to make room for an underpaid star waiting to bloom (you’ll remember that Mason finished higher than Vokoun in Vezina trophy voting this year).

What worries me, or upsets me about the trade is that just the day before, David Poile told the press that he “had no current plans to trade any of his high-salary players that were under contract for the coming season”. Again, i agree that the trade made sense, but still… I am just hoping that Poile made a careless slip of the tongue and was thinking of valuable but non-duplicate players who are under contract (read: Sullivan, Arnott, Erat, Zidlicky, Weber, Suter, Radulov, etc). I would think as long as Poile has been a GM he would know better. And that’s what makes me nervous. ESPN is also reporting (guessing) that Kariya is probably gone. I think our lack (or perceived lack) of competitiveness will hurt our chances of signing him, regardless of the salary he is offered.

Another interesting note: a few places are reporting that Vokoun had a no-trade clause. I guess he knew that he would be a solid no-contest #1 goalie in Florida, and no so here, so he waived the clause.


One last hockey related note. To all those Canadian haters who keep bashing on hockey in the US and the south, etc. Tonight for the first time ever – ever – two US born players were taken 1-2 in the amateur draft. The Predators also selected the first California native to be selected in the first round. They weren’t exactly from Brentwood, TN, but i’m just sayin’…

vokoun is gone

In Hockey, Sports on June 22, 2007 at 2:01 pm

Breaking news: Tomas Vokoun was just traded to the Florida Panthers for 3 draft picks.

We also didn’t make a qualifying offer to Ramzi Abid, but we did make one to Darcy Hordichuck. Look the end of last season and explain that one to me.

David Poile was trying to tell everyone that there were no plans for a fire sale, that he was still going to put together a competitive team. That made sense when he just let two about-to-be-expensive free agents go. But this was a new trade. One that makes a lot of sense, but still, the perception is there. it would be much different if this was a trade for a D-man or center to replace Kimmo or Hartnell, but for picks – next year? That doesn’t look good, or help the team this year.

…Unless Poile can now use these picks to trade for someone else…

Update: The team will get better. It has to. I just heard on the radio we are now several million dollars under the salary minimum for next year – so we have to get someone else. Maybe resign Kariya, maybe a few lesser additions. But something. What i don’t know for sure is if the recent qualifying offers are factored into that. Keeping Hordichuck, Nichol, Smithson, Zanon, etc may take us to the minimum by themselves. But even as we are – we still have Arnott, Sullivan, Erat, etc etc – we still have a solid team. No question.

But this trade was about math, not hockey. The fact remains, the Predators are not profitable as they are. The franchise can’t support a very high payroll without an owner that dumps extra money in – lots of it. Right now Leipold still owns the team and there are no guarantees that he’ll be able to find a buyer this year. He can’t afford to dump any more money, so the budget has to come down. Our best hope is that our farm system really comes through. It’s good, but i’m not sure it is that good. We’re probably looking at a low playoff seed for next year, depending on how the rest of the conference looks.

The team will be fine without Vokoun. Mason played very strong, and i think better than Vokoun for much of last year. He even held his own for a very long stretch while Vokoun was injured, so i think he can be trusted with the starting job. The only risk is if Mason gets hurt, will Rinne be able to step up (assuming he even accepts the qualifying offer we just gave him).

In many ways, this mirrors the trade that our rivals, the San Jose Sharks, just made with the Maple Leafs hours before – though theirs has less of a fire-sale mentality to it. Both teams had the best goalie tandems in the league, and the players were just too valuable to hold on to. Both have had rumors of trades hanging over them for quite a while now.

The other rather sad note here is that Vokoun and Timonen were the final two players who had been with the team since the franchise began. And they are both gone now :-(

Of course this is going to make the goal of selling 14,000 just a little harder – again. But we still hold our destiny in our own hands.

no buyout option for preds

In Hockey, Nashville, Sports on June 19, 2007 at 5:39 pm

Well, it looks like the little Nashville Post finally caught up with itself and posted a ‘breaking’ story too fast without researching it enough. They reported what a lawyer said in a Metro Sports Authority meeting last week. Now they are saying it isn’t true after all.

Basically, the $27mil fee for “liquidating damages” is only for that – if the team declares bankruptcy or is found in default of the lease (like the city is saying they are by not having enough total “tangible net worth”). The Post was also kind enough to finally post a copy of this dreaded and complicated lease everyone has been arguing over.

Basically i fell into what Paul McCann called the chicken little syndrome.
It is looking like it will be tough to sell enough tickets to keep the Preds if the team doesn’t put a quality group on the ice – but this is far from over.

Oh – and we signed Jerred Smithson today. So…yay.

and so it begins…

In Hockey, Sports on June 18, 2007 at 1:48 pm

A black day indeed.

The sale is not going as fast as they Leipold needed it to, so he is unloading salary and soon-to-be free agents while he can get something for them.

We just unloaded Scott Hartnell and Kimmo Timonen to Philadelphia for a first round pick (they were both about to be unrestricted free agents, so this is better than nothing). They have been signed there to huge long-term contracts. Far more than Nashville would have been able to offer if we had tried.

You have to assume Kariya won’t be far behind, and there is no way Forsberg is coming back to Nashville.

What is worse – the fact that we are not going to be well positioned for another cup run is going to make selling those 14,000 magic tickets that much harder.

I don’t want to get too pssimistic, but i really feel like our only chances of keeping the team now would be for the sale to Balsillie to be dropped (which i think would only happen if the NHL doesn’t want him) and for the local investors to get enough money together to buy the team. But even if that happens, that group won’t have enough cash to go after top free agents, and will put together a mediocre team on the ice. Again, fewer ticket sales…

I love the Predators. I love hockey. But outside of a real marketing genius stepping in – and i mean fast – the Predators will be gone. If not this year, then in a few. Right now they just can’t be profitable. They were well short of the salary cap last year, and Poile put together a great team with little money – and according to Leipold the team still lost $15mil. Even if we sold out every single game (an extra 3930 seats per game)…and assuming an average sale price of $100 for those missing seats (which it wouldn’t be)…that’s about an extra $393k in revenue. The Predators need merchandising, licensing, and sponsorship/endorsement deals to survive and they just aren’t getting them. Once again, it isn’t about the fans. It’s about the businesses and the way the team has been run in the environment they have.

Honestly right now i just hope the NHL moves to vegas before the NBA gets there. I know there are a lot of reasons it seems odd, but if they were well marketed (and i think they would be) they would raise the profile of the league in the US. Oh – and the league needs to buy out their contract with Versus and give the games to ESPN/ABC for $100 per game. Less if ESPN/ABC won’t take it.

predators hit the road

In History/Politics, Hockey, Nashville, Sports on June 18, 2007 at 10:14 am

A bit of an update from a post back in Feb.

The Tennessee legislature finally got around to approving a license plate for the Nashville Predators.

Great timing guys.

They have to pre-sell 1,000 plates before they’ll actually start making them. No idea yet if they have a sample design, but i made the graphic to the right back in Feb, and it’ll probably be something like that.

My understanding is to contact your local county clerk if you want to order one. I’ll try to call this afternoon and see what it takes and how much they’ll cost (proceeds go to the Predators Foundation).

Now the question is, do i get one of these for the Rabbit, or one of the antique car plates i now qualify for…

preds exercise claws…er…clause

In Hockey, Nashville, Sports on June 15, 2007 at 8:41 pm

Not that this is a surprise, but it is still significant: The Predators did exercise their “cure” clause in the lease with the city.

Of slightly bigger news is that the Predators can break their lease with the city, even if we sell 14,000 tickets. All the owner has to do is pay a $27mil fee for “damages”. Now, the NHL has said that if a lease is in place when an owner buys a team, the team cannot move for 7 years. That would presumably mean that an owner cannot break the lease themselves, but if the lease lapses on its own because of time, or in this case, attendance, that the owner is allowed to leave.

I have to wonder though (nervously) if the NHL does want Balsillie to move the Preds after all, if they wouldn’t try to call this a “buy out” instead of breaking the lease, and thus allow him to move the team.

I want the Predators to stay. I would rather Balsillie not be the owner, but i’ll take what we can. But i also do understand that 14,000 sold seats or not, the Predators are years away from being a profitable franchise in Nashville (without putting the team salaries on the floor anyway). With that said, from a business point of view the move makes sense. From a marketing point of view i don’t think it does. But then again, putting the league on the Outdoor Living Network (now the All Fight Channel, AKA Versus) instead of giving the rights away to ESPN after the lockout doesn’t make marketing sense either. Just short term financial sense.

As horrified as i am to say this, i really think that our best hope for keeping the Predators in Nashville lies in 1) Bettman’s pride and 2) the greed of the Leafs and Sabres ownership. I think that the corporate sponsors and potential owners in the area are a safety net that could catch the team if this Balsillie mess all blows up, but it isn’t a serious option on its own merits right now. If it was, they should/would have come forward last spring when Leipold asked for partial ownership from locals.


On a related but random note: discussion on Paul McCann’s latest post tonight (at 5:00pm on a Friday) was a little lighter than usual, but still rather heated. I didn’t get to read until we got home from hanging out with friends, but one person pointed out that 30 minutes after Paul posted the story, no one from Nashville had commented yet, but many from Toronto, Buffalo, Vancouver, etc had, and that this somehow demonstrated the lack of true fans in Nashville. However, someone else accurately pointed out, i think, that this only means that people in Nashville have something better to do on a Friday night in the middle of the summer.

I think that may be the Predators problem: Nashville is too great a city. Too many options and things to do. I guess that isn’t the case in some cities that are more “deserving” of hockey. Touché.

And oh yeah – by my calculations we’re about 13 weeks from the start of training camp.

(one more time, happy anniversary to us)

new preds buyer?

In Hockey, Nashville, Sports on June 15, 2007 at 9:01 am

The Nashville Post continues to scoop all other media outlets in Nashville for Predators news.

They are now reporting that a group of local businessmen is putting together a bid to purchase the Predators. With this in place, it leaves Bettman open to do what he did in Pittsburgh – tell Balsillie to take a hike, and sell to the locals. With this level of local corporate/business support, you also have to think the odds of the Predators selling enough tickets to stay in town are pretty good, which may cause Balsillie to drop the bid on his own.

Huge news! Good way to start the weekend!

Update: Another good article from the Nashville Post is reporting that the legal roadblocks that the Metro Nashville government have been throwing up all of a sudden are part of why Balsillie has been moving faster to relocate, rather than just purchase the team. They go on to say that between Metro trying to say that two years isn’t two years and that players don’t count as part of the team’s value, they are creating a hostile environment that may kill the Balsillie deal and lead to Leipold moving the team on his own…or of course selling to locals (as mentioned above).

(and happy anniversary to us)

nhl award voting

In Hockey, Sports on June 15, 2007 at 8:32 am

Just a quick note, since the Predators site and certainly the Tennessean aren’t going to cover it. James Mirtle was kind enough to post the voting totals for the various league awards handed out last night. Here’s how some of the Preds finished:

Hart Trophy (MVP): Paul Kariya – 16th
Calder Trophy (Rookie): Alexander Radulov – 9th
Jack Adams (Coach): Barry Trotz – 4th
Lady Byng (Sportsmanship): Paul Kariya – 15th
Norris Trophy (D-man): Kimmo Timonen – 5th
Frank Selke (Defensive forward): David Legwand – 12th
Vezina (Goalie): Chris Mason – 10th

But some of the voting was kinda strange. For instance, apparently Alexander Radulov got a vote for the Selke – defensive forward of the year. Radulov is great, and certainly a better defender than Kariya – but not by much. Weird.

(and happy anniversary to us)

balsillie, bringer of chaos

In Hockey, Sports on June 14, 2007 at 10:28 am

New stories on the Balsillie’s moves here and here. Read them.

I vote we rename Balsillie “Balls-y”. He is moving really fast and i think he’s making the NHL mad. He just may screw up his chances of getting this team.

Summary from those articles: Balsillie is now offering rights for those in Hamilton to buy seat rights (yes, from Ticketmaster) for the “Hamilton Predators” (ad to the right)

Of course, he doesn’t own the team, and just requested a meeting with the NHL a couple of days ago to discuss the purchase. That meeting was scheduled for the 19th and was to make a full formal presentation on the 20th, for the purchase to be made final on July 1st. (By the way, the team, whoever owns it, has to invoke the default attendance clause by June 30th). Well – the NHL just canceled that meeting. They said that the papers Balsillie submitted were incomplete. They also pointed out that the board needs more time to vote on some procedural things apparently.

This makes me think two things: either 1) Balsillie isn’t as good a business man as we thought and maybe he didn’t think this stuff through or 2) the NHL board of governors is already throwing up roadblocks to Balsillie’s bid.

Either way, i am liking Balsillie less and less every day.

Oh – and a Senators fan just did this to the ad from above. I love it.

maverick owner for the predators?

In Hockey, Nashville, Sports on June 14, 2007 at 6:44 am

[This article was written a while back - i am sooo glad Balsillie didn't get the team now, and it looks like a local group will be buying the team - possibly with Todd Wagner or someone from outside as an investor - check here for the latest Predators news]


You’ve heard me say several times that i think Balsillie will be a good owner because of his similarity to Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks. Cuban is stinking rich, and a fan first, owner second. He has repeatedly used his influence as an owner and bottomless pockets to go up against the league and advocate for change. As much as many people are annoyed by him, I think his influence has by far been positive, and there is no question all my friends that live in Dallas love him and say that he puts together a fantastic product.

For those that haven’t been following the news, there are tons of reports of Balsillie making everyone mad, telling Nashville that he would like the team to work here, though he has yet to actually talk to anyone from the Nashville, and has been telling the city of Hamilton, Ontario that he wants to move the team there. Most of all, he is really frustrating the league and the Board of Governors of the NHL (owners) before he’s even got the team. The trick here is that very group has to approve his purchase of the team, and then again approve the move. There is no question we’re headed for some messy legal wrangling.

So while Balsillie would possibly be a good “Cuban-esque” owner, why not wish for the real thing?

The Nashville Post (the one that broke the news of the sale in the first place) just pointed out that Mark Cuban’s business partner Todd Wagner, is buying a large plot of land in Nashville to build an estate and live here part time. Cuban grew up a rabid Penguins fan in Pittsburgh and has publicly considered buying the Dallas Stars and was rumored to be interested in buying his childhood team when the Penguins were up for sale and even said on his blog that he knew he would regret not buying a hockey team.

If Balsillie yet again ticks off the NHL ownership and doesn’t get the Predators (which i have to say i am starting to hope for), how awesome would it be to have Mark Cuban buy the team?

Craig Leipold: If you don’t sell to Balsillie, PLEASE PLEASE sell to Mark Cuban.

predators benefit concert

In History/Politics, Hockey, Nashville, Sports on June 13, 2007 at 2:25 pm

SaveThePredators.com has organized a concert to support keeping the team in town. The show will be on July 10th at the Rutledge and feature Small Time Rock Stars (who frequently perform as the house band at Predators games), Kink Ador, and others.

The part that i think is really great is how they are working this. The concert is a benefit for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Middle Tennessee – that also supports the Preds.

Here’s how it works: proceeds from the $10 ticket price will go to buy Predators tickets, which will then be donated to the Boys and Girls Clubs. So while i don’t think you could exactly use this as a direct tax write-off, it’s a genius way of supporting the Predators and the community all at the same time.

See you there!

save the rally for later

In History/Politics, Hockey, Nashville, Sports on June 8, 2007 at 9:07 pm

Copied from a few posts i’ve seen around today (and heard rumor of earlier this week):

According to SaveThePredators.com there will be NO “Save The Predators” fan rally for June 16th. That’s is the weekend for the Bonaroo festival. If you see any on-line fliers, etc. just disregard them.

There IS a huge rally in the works for mid-July that 104.5 The Zone and the Chamber of Commerce (among others) are putting together.

Stay tuned.

our team nashville

In Blog Stuff, Christy, Hockey, Nashville, Sports on June 8, 2007 at 3:42 pm

Katherine’s right. I do dig it…

The new initiative rolled out (they rolled initiative…ha!) by the Nashville Chamber of Commerce to keep the Preds:


A while back Christy (my wife) and i were talking about what we could send in to Balsillie’s office and to the league office to save the Predators. We’re big fans of Stargate SG-1 and when that show was about to be canceled everyone sent in empty tissue boxes with “Please Send More” written on them (reference to the pilot episode of the TV show). Jericho fans of course just sent in a bunch of nuts.

I think BA has the right idea: we send them all catfish.
Who’s first?

marketing playoff beards

In Hockey, Pictures, Sports on June 8, 2007 at 2:27 pm

I have frequently complained here about how the NHL’s marketing is weak. The brand just doesn’t attract fans the way it should, especially in the US. Some of this is things like advertisements and sponsorships.

But some of the rest is the personalities and personnel. The fact that most players “aren’t from around here” doesn’t help. There can even (treading lightly here) be a race issue in some cases i think. Especially in large US cities, and especially in the south and west, there are large african american populations – not much there for hockey right now.

But that is not what this post is about.
This is about facial hair.

I love the playoff beard tradition. It is fun and silly and team-building and all of that. But it doesn’t help the leagues marketing efforts.

Example:
This is what the Niedermayers look like in their team pictures:

Good looking young star players. The face of the league. Great to have on the front of sports magazine’s and newspapers everywhere.

But that is not what everyone saw.
Thanks to the playoff beard tradition, everyone saw this:

Sorry….wrong shot…
They saw this….

They look like a couple of mountain men. Not the picture of energy and youth that we want in our professional sports champions.

really deep pockets is a good thing

In Hockey, Sports on June 7, 2007 at 2:35 pm

The news for the Predators keeps getting better and better.

The Tennessean published an article this morning, pointing out the possible issues that David Poile would have in putting together offers for players during the off season given the uncertainty around ownership, and thus budget.

Weeks ago i guessed that surely Balsillie’s people had talked to Poile behind the scenes and at least given him a ballpark budget to work with.

But if Balsillie is half the businessman and hockey fan we have heard, he has already given Poile an idea of where he needs to be. Even if he plans on moving the team, he will want a good team to move. It could be Quebec all over again (they moved and won the Cup in their first year in Denver), or even the inverse: the team wins the Cup, then moves.

Apparently Balsillie’s lawyer/spokesperson read the article this in the Tennessean this morning and called with info. The news was very good.

“We want to give David Poile a very generous budget to build the team however he wants, having regard only to the league salary cap and not to any budget restraints imposed by ownership,” Rodier said. “This is about winning, buying a team that has a shot at winning the Cup in our view.”

Nice! This is HUGE! Like i said, regardless of whether the team moves or not, Balsillie wants to own a hockey team, and he wants to own a winner. And unlike Craig Leipold (good owner that he was) Balsillie has the deep pockets to REALLY make it happen. Poile has proved himself a great GM by doing a lot with a small payroll. With a larger payroll, this should get real fun real quick.


It is also huge that Balsillie’s lawyer/spokesperson is starting to make helpful statements and removing some of the uncertainty. And even better, the news is good.

“The team’s not going anywhere unless two things happen,” Rodier said. “One, there is no lease and (two), the NHL has considered the relocation issue in accordance with its constitutional bylaws and has granted its consent to relocation.”

A lot has changed in the last few weeks.
I am officially changing my forecast to 55% that we keep the team.
I’m loving this!

(Note: Did John Glennon even bother calling Balsillie’s office or the Predators office and ask for a comment before writing his story? This guy is really looking bad again.)

wouldn’t that be a little obvious?

In Hockey, Nashville, Sports on June 4, 2007 at 5:31 pm

Nevermind.
The Tennessean is back at it. Being scooped to any real story about the Predators by the lowly City Paper. The Tennessean has yet another article about fans being fearful of uncertainty due to lack of communication with our future owner. While the city paper has an article about an upcoming meeting between the Nashville Chamber of Commerce and the Predators organization.

Quote from the City Paper article:

“Time is of the essence here, it seems to me,” Chamber of Commerce president Ralph Schulz said this morning. “The Predators have got to sell their season tickets, but the degree to which we can help them position their ticket sales and create the opportunities to talk to decision makers, and so forth and so on, we really want to do.”

I’m excited about this and loving it. More evidence of the community stepping up to keep the team in place.

However, the City Paper article makes me think: why in the world is this news? Shouldn’t the Predators organization have a meeting every off season with the Chamber of Commerce of Nashville, Brentwood, Franklin, and every city as far out as Murfreesboro? Not to mention every other business organization in the area. Even if they didn’t in season 1, by the time the team started struggling to sell to businesses in, oh lets say season 3 or 4, they should have made this a common practice.

The marketing for businesses is still pathetic. The business sales website for the Preds has finally improved slightly, but one of the main features is still the pathetic 100 things to do with season tickets. Amazingly, at least two of the other teams in the league that have ticket sales problems, Chicago and New Jersey, don’t have anything at all regarding business sales on their sites.

One more random thing that is interesting to contemplate: If this old post turns out to be true and Gary Bettman is replaced with Eddie Gossage, we could have an NHL commissioner from Middle Tennessee coming in just as the Predators may be looking to relocate. Bettman supports the Preds because they are one of his babies. I wonder what Gossage would think.

Last note: The first period of game 4 between the Senators and Ducks just ended…wow! That was a frantic, awesome, physical period of hockey. Giguere played lights out for most of the period, but finally allowed one in at the last second – literally. Emery was great as well. I hope the rest of the game and series are this good. And i love hockey in high definition. You can see the puck (thanks to resolution) and see plays develop (thanks to wide screen). I’d love to see the game in 720p instead of 1080i given the speed of the game, but at this point i guess i can’t be that picky. :-)

fans are coming through

In Hockey, Sports on June 4, 2007 at 6:15 am

According to an article in the Tennessean today:
      This years season ticket holder renewal rate so far: 66.5%
      Last years season ticket holder renewal rate at this point: 66%

And in regard to Balsillie’s silence to this point, the article quotes commissioner Gary Bettman as saying “In that regard, what (Balsillie) says or doesn’t say and when he says it isn’t as important as what the people in Nashville do.”

The fans are stepping up. At least as much as they did last year. We want to keep this team. The true fans are here.

Also wanted to point out a quote from James Mirtle, a hockey writer for the The Globe and Mail in Toronto (who has commented on my blog more than once).

I hear all the time how there aren’t hockey fans in many of the new American markets, but it seems like every second email I get is someone from Raleigh or Tampa or Texas and they often have sound reasoning for every point they make.

The league’s reach may be meagre on a wide scale, but in individual markets there are definitely growing groups of knowledgeable, hardcore fans. The funny thing is that, this season in particular, it was a lot of the markets that have been around for a long time that really struggled at the gate, and the bottom feeders in attendance the past two years have been St. Louis, Chicago, the Islanders, Washington and New Jersey.

Go Preds.
Go fans.

more from the commissioner

In Hockey, Sports on June 3, 2007 at 9:10 am

John Glennon continues his renaissance as an actual reporter, finally beating Canadian papers to stories about what is happening in Nashville.

The Tennessean just published an interview Glennon did with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. Worth a quick read. Nothing groundbreaking, but to me it does absolutely solidify that Bettman does not want the Predators to move for a wide variety of reasons.

While Bettman doesn’t make promises, and declines to answer comments that he could only speculate on, there are a variety of telling quotes:

“I’m hopeful that the franchise gets the support it needs from the local community. Relocation is not something we like and we hope it can be avoided.”

Go check it out.

chamber survey

In History/Politics, Hockey, Nashville, Sports on June 1, 2007 at 10:39 pm

Quick survey for the Nashville Chamber of Commerce. Took me about 1 minute and 15 seconds to take the whole thing.
www.nashvillechamber.com/predators
Go take it.

And check this out: www.savethepredators.com

i’m on tv!

In Blog Stuff, Entertainment, Hockey, Me, Sports, Videos on June 1, 2007 at 8:10 pm

Well, kinda.

For those that haven’t checked out Nashville is Talking yet, it is one of the few professional blogging sites in Nashville that i know of. It is owned by WKRN (channel 2) and is run by Brittney Gilbert. It is about as well run as it could be given its impossible mission of trying to make interesting and legitimate news and entertainment out of a bunch of amateurs ramblings on every topic that passes in the space between their ears.

Anyway, once every few days she gets to do an on camera piece. I think its on the afternoon news broadcast. I pretty much never watch the news (i listen to NPR in the car and read online) so i’ve never seen it (sorry guys). She reads on-line quotes from blogs on a given topic. Yes, even here everything has to be a sound bite.

Her most recent on air piece was about the Predators. I got quoted:

I couldn’t help but notice she didn’t pronounce the title of my blog.
Don’t worry Brittney, i don’t really know how to pronounce it either.

I think i’m going to have to start sending Brittney some talking points and suggested clips the way politicians and musicians do, though. I think i’ve had much better lines than what she quoted:

“The marketing, especially to businesses, needs to improve. Can you think of someone better to market to businesses than a billionaire…who happens to be the head of the Blackberry empire?”

I’d also quibble with the first quote she picked, simply as inaccurate. As there has been much discussion around lately – money is not all that is required to move the team. It takes the consent of the other owners, the league office, and a city – and oh yeah, a lack of support here. I guess that was the point i made, huh? Good choice Brittney. :-)

further developments

In Hockey, Sports on May 31, 2007 at 10:44 am

For those still following along at home, i’d put our chances at more like 25% for keeping the Preds now.

Jim Balsillie just secured the rights to operate an NHL team in the Copps Colesium in Hamilton, ON (just south of Toronto).

The most frustrating thing about this, is that Balsillie says he is doing the right thing and not talking to the press or fans in Nashville until the sale is final. Yet he is doing things like this that are open to the public and he knows will only frustrate matters.

However, to expand on my point from yesterday – i hope for his sake the Balsillie’s done his homework. The NHL gives teams the right to protect their territory within 50 (or is it 80?) miles of their headquarters. The Maple Leafs corporate headquarters are in the arena where they play, the Air Canada Center. As the crow flies, it is just 31.59 miles from the Air Canada Center to Copps Colesium. This gives the Maple Leafs ownership group the clear right to refuse to allow a move there. Which i think they would be likely to do given that they are already crammed in with the Buffalo Sabres, who are barely 50 miles away.

I’m still going to hit the rally though.

Update: The protection radius is 80 miles. So that means Buffalo and Toronto both have veto power. My hopes are slightly higher. Lets say 35% now. As many have said – it is up to us as fans. We can make Balsillie’s intentions a non-issue if we want to keep the team, all we have to do is buy tickets.

be there!

In Blog Stuff, Friends, History/Politics, Hockey, Me, Sports on May 30, 2007 at 4:33 pm

According to SaveThePredators.com there will be NO “Save The Predators” fan rally for June 16th. That’s is the weekend for the Bonaroo festival. If you see any on-line fliers, etc. just disregard them.

There IS a huge rally in the works for mid-July that 104.5 The Zone and the Chamber of Commerce (among others) are putting together.

Stay tuned.

Also – go sign the petition

Having said that…i don’t think the Preds are in that much trouble. Don’t want to seem too desperate. But hey, even if the team hadn’t been sold and sold out every game last year – i’m always up for a party supporting the team!

Oh, and a great post from Paul McCann (who should really be on NiT’s roll – hint hint Brittney). Best quote:

[Hockey] is the only sport that I can think of who’s fans believe that it doesn’t “belong” in certain places. Could you imagine a die-hard football fan in Chicago saying that football doesn’t belong in Seattle… Maybe a big hoops fan in Philly saying that the NBA shouldn’t be in Phoenix… Perhaps a crazed baseball fan in St. Louis saying that baseball doesn’t belong in Toronto? It truly boggles the mind to think that hockey fans wouldn’t want more hockey fans in more places.

Amen brother.

recap and props

In History/Politics, Hockey, Sports on May 30, 2007 at 10:12 am

First, let me hand out some props.
I have certainly done my fair share of ragging on our local media for their poor coverage of the Predators. I have even developed something of a reputation for it.

Today i woke up to see the front cover of the Tennessean with Jim Balsillie’s face on it, and an in-depth-ish article on the new owner. The paper has also done an excellent job lately in covering the pluses and minuses of the team’s sale, while giving both the optimistic and ‘realist’ views of the team’s chances of staying in town. As much as i’ve hated on John Glennon and team, i need to call out that since they were scooped on the sale of the team, they have really stepped up with good coverage. The City paper also had a great, reasonably balanced story on the economic impact the Predators have on Nashville (even though the picture of a crowd at Rippy’s on the front cover was clearly taken before a Kentucky basketball game, not a Preds game).


Now, i finally get around to posting my thoughts and opinions on where the Predators might be headed (literally and figuratively)…

I am excited. I think this is a good thing. The next few weeks will certainly tell us a lot more, but as it stands now, i’m thinking positive. A week ago i would have laid only 10-15% odds that the Predators would be in Nashville beyond next season. Now i’d put those odds at closer to 45%. So, notice, i am not a blind optimist, but things aren’t looking all that bad.

The Sale
Craig Leipold is rich. But not that rich. He was a good owner, but not that great.
He bought the team for $80 million, had losses in all but one of the team’s 10 years that totaled up to $70 million in losses. Sold for $220. Profit: $70 million. He’s a business man and doesn’t have infinitely deep pockets. The sale made sense. Who was willing to pay him the most? Jim Balsillie. I don’t fault Leipold for the sale and don’t feel cheated or lied to. He did what he had to do. We knew he had been looking to sell at least portions of the team for some time.

Under New Management
I am glad to have Jim Balsillie. I think he’s going to be the Mark Cuban of hockey. I expect to see him at every game. Heck, i wouldn’t be surprised to see him on the ice or on the bench during free skate. He is a passionate fan. There is nothing better in an owner. Well, that and being stinking rich – which he is.

What i hope for most out of Jim Balsillie is better marketing. We have fabulous individual fan support for a great product. Better than most in the league, or most leagues for that matter. What we lack is the ‘bigger picture’ business and community support. Unlike most, i don’t blame the community for this. I blame the team and more specifically, the marketing department. They never did a good job reaching out to the business community. After several years of discussion regarding lack of business support, i saw “100 ways to use Predators tickets for your business” and a few adds on TV and radio that started running well after the All-Star game last year. A little late guys. The marketing, especially to businesses, needs to improve. Can you think of someone better to market to businesses than a billionaire (read: money to invest) who happens to be the head of the Blackberry empire?

The Move?
Will the Predators be moving? Well, not for the 07-08 season at least. That much is sure. And now, as mentioned above, the media has begun covering the team more. The impact the team has on the city has been seen. Business owners are stepping up.

NHL Commisioner Gary Bettman just said in a press conference that he spoke with Balsillie (apparently one of few people that have since the sale was announced) and that Balsillie told him he had no specific intentions around moving the team. He just wants to own a team. I accept that as truth, but not a no-move promise. He could still want to move the team. But according to what Bettman says he was told (read: hearsay) he doesn’t have plans in place.

Here’s why i believe him: Where would he move?

Hamilton? Too close to Toronto and Buffalo, their owners would veto it.
Winnipeg? They just lost a team to Phoenix and at just 633k residents, it is not big enough to allow a move back there.
Kansas City? Las Vegas? Maybe, but why would Balsillie move from one ‘non-traditional hockey market’ city in the US to another?
Portland? This makes the most sense for a move. They are 3rd to Montreal and L.A. in biggest population per team. They only have one NBA team and 2.5 million people. But there hasn’t been a big demand for moving a team there. And again, from Balsillie’s point of view, why start over with a new city (if you can’t move the team to your back yard)?

Remember one more important point: Bettman doesn’t want the Predators to move. That would be:

  1. Admitting that he was wrong in moving hockey to Nashville and similar cities
  2. That would be one less city to expand to (and he loves those expansion fees)
  3. Specifically it limits the chance for western expansion and re-alignment

There is still serious talk of the league expanding with two teams in the Western Conference and realigning Detroit to the east where they belong. The Predators moving to Winnipeg, KC, Vegas, or Portland makes that less likely to happen.

Even if the Predators don’t meet the 14,000 ticket level, i think the team will be sticking around, for at least a few more years.

The Fans
I also have to say that i was horribly disappointed in Section 303 leader Mark Hollingsworth. In this article, he was quoted as saying

“There are a lot of hard-core fans, including me, who might not even come to the games next year…I put way too much time and effort into this to watch a lame-duck situation…I speak for every serious fan that we want concrete assurances… that (Balsillie) is contractually committed to stay here somehow”

No sir, you do not. Next year looks to be a fabulous year on the ice. Nothing will change that. We will be cup contenders again next year. Moving or not, i plan on being there to watch a great set of hockey games. Note: Mark did a little backpedal here and tried to be slightly more upbeat. I think most fans are still quite supportive.

Other fan issues: I feel like the Predators are just now reaching a critical mass when it comes to fans. Early on, it was a novelty. We had very high attendance numbers while everyone checked out this hockey thing (and it was stinking cheap back then). Now the city has a real growing fan base. People that follow the team, talk about it around the water cooler, etc. I am personal proof of that. I had gone to maybe 15-20 games in the first 7 years and watched many on TV. In the last 2 seasons i’ve been to no less than 50 and watch every one i can. The fan base is just coming of age. Kids that were 9-10-11 when the team came to town are now 20-somethings with cash to spend and weekends to fill. We are just now seeing fans that grew up with the team be old enough to pay for their own tickets.

Will the fans (besides the aforementioned busiensses) step up? I think so. If Balsillie acts like he is going to support the team at all – which i think he will – then i think an extra 200 seats per game is easily done. All discussions of the team moving will halt.

The Team
The Tennessean ran an article a few days ago raising the concern about the Predators re-signing players with all the uncertainty about the team. While i agree that uncertainty is never a plus in contract negotiations, it really isn’t all that bad in this case. Scenario 1) The Predators stay put. The players like Nashville, we have a great team, they know what they get. 2) The Predators move to somewhere in Canada. The players now get to play in this great ‘hockey country’ we hear so much about, and for many of them, it is closer to home. Either way, they now work for a boss that is crazy passionate about hockey, which is just a plus over the previous ownership. The only downside is if Balsillie hasn’t given Poile (the Predators GM) a budget for next year.

But if Balsillie is half the businessman and hockey fan we have heard, he has already given Poile an idea of where he needs to be. Even if he plans on moving the team, he will want a good team to move. It could be Quebec all over again (they moved and won the Cup in their first year in Denver), or even the inverse: the team wins the Cup, then moves.


So i think this is my longest blog post yet. I’ve had to work on it off and on for a while now, but i think i covered it all:
New owner: good
Team moving: possible but not certain, maybe even unlikely
Fans: mostly supportive
Team: solid as ever

I’m out.

aftermath

In Blog Stuff, Hockey, Me, Sports on May 24, 2007 at 8:46 am

I am so dead tired. Stayed up too late last night reading about the Predators.
Tired of thinking about it. Most of all tired of reading other people talk about it.

I have to say though, i am a little surprised that the topic hasn’t come up much at work. When we got knocked out of the playoffs, it was 3 weeks before people quit stopping me in the halls and asking me “What happened to the Preds?”. I haven’t had anyone proactively ask me about the sale today. But like i said, at this point, i’m done thinking about it too much so i am kinda glad people aren’t bugging me.

What has been interesting about this is that i was a fairly early blogger to blast the story, and i posted links to my post on many other sites (in comment sections of other posts and articles, etc). This has by far been my biggest traffic drawing post. Already 261 303 hits in the last 13 14 hours (since 9:00pm last night). My previous 24 hour record was 180 hits. We’ll see where this one ends up.

Update: final count was 422 unique hits, 535 page loads, and best of all – 69 return visitors. Usually i average 7-10 return readers per-day.

Interesting though: statistically Nashville is Talking is my biggest link source. However,
it took Brittney forever to post a story about the sale, and she linked to two other blogs – and not mine. Though i’m a little miffed about this, especially given the general lack of information or content in the other posts (thought they are good posts over all), i am consoled by the fact that i was the only blog chosen to be linked by the freakin Wall Street Journal!

Oh, and NiT did apparently link to my story about grammar. Thanks Brittney.

the predators what?!?!

In Hockey, Nashville, Sports on May 23, 2007 at 7:20 pm

This just in.

The Predators were just are being sold to Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie (the guy that owns Research in Motion – the Blackberry guys). This is the guy that tried openly to buy the Pittsburgh Penguins last year and move them to Canada.

What We “Know”:

Random Quotes…as of 11:09pm central

“It is believed as of now that the team will remain in Nashville for the forseeable future”

“a press conference has been scheduled for tomorrow to announce the sale of the team”

“The Nashville Predators will soon be sold to Canadian businessman Jim Balsillie for $220 million, media sources reported Wednesday evening.” (Leipold bought/started the team for $80 million)

“Leipold met with the NHL Board of Governors at 2 p.m. Wednesday in New York, and then told his staff of the developments.”

Gerry Helper, Preds VP of communications: “We’re not confirming or denying or issuing any kind of statement at this time”

“Leipold told the Predators’ front office personnel that the team will remain in Nashville for at least the next season, but made no promised for the future.”

Also, it is apparently official. According to Paul McCann, who aside from being a hockey blogger, is the PA announcer for the Predators at the Sommet Center (that is still taking some getting used to).

Media coverage:

News broke here, here, here, and here. Also here, here, here, here, and here. Canadian media here. And probably other places.

An interesting note: The blogs got the news first (of course) and the AP is way more negative on Nashville and our chances of keeping the team. Bloomberg and most bloggers are saying the team will likely be here for a while. SI still doesn’t have anything posted (now they do), but Wikipedia’s page on Jim Balsille has already been updated, listing him as the Preds owner. Of course, the Predators page doesn’t yet.

Video here.

What is also amazing is that this story was really broken by the Nashville Post (who?). I’ve never read them before but they just scooped everyone else big-time, and i just became a reader. Still nothing on the Tennessean’s site (update: now it’s here). The City Paper (my previous preference) at least said that Leipold is “close to selling the team“. In general, it looks like Channel 5 and the City Paper are leading the pack in coverage from local sources.

Opinion and Speculation:

As Paul McCann said, this throws everything into question. Could be awesome. Or he could immediately exercise the out clause the Predators have with the city (which honestly Liepold would have been dumb not to do himself) and start the wheels for the team to move. He has many times in the past expressed a desire to have another team in north, even another in the Toronto area (which could easily support an additional team).

FYI: the deadline for the team to notify the city of its intent to exercise the attendance-based out clause in their contract is June 19th (60 days after the end of the season). Even if they do exercise that clause, the city can always buy the extra tickets and prevent the move. The team would have to stay here. And honestly, given the sweet deal with the city that the team has, they would REALLY have to have a lot of money to throw away to move the team…which i guess Balsillie does…

On the other hand, this could be the boost the team needed. A Canadian (read: long-time, hardcore) hockey fan takes over the team to make it a quality product on the ice (which it has been) and off the ice (not so much lately). We could get new coaches after all (though he’d have to fire them since Leipold just resigned them) and he could invest major money in major players, which Liepold did some, but these pockets go much deeper.

On the Owners:

Jim Balsillie…

“He was Athlete of the Year at Trinity College, University of Toronto, plays hockey and golf at competitive levels, and coaches his son’s soccer and basketball teams.”

I don’t think you could say that about good ‘ol Craig.

Quote from Leipold last week when the Sommet Center announcement was made:

“When I’m talking with people, it’s all under the provision that this team is staying in Nashville, and if you’re interested, come on and we’ll continue to talk. Those people are the ones I’m restricting it to, the ones who have an interest in maintaining a team in Nashville.”

Of course, at the time we all thought he meant a minority owner.


More updates…

Channel 4 just had Vern Fiddler and Darcy Hordichuck interviewed by phone. They were both shocked and hadn’t heard anything about it. Hordichuck (an unrestricted free agent without a contract) said that Leipold seemed excited about the team.

Channel 5 interviewed Chris Mason and Shea Weber. Neither of them knew anything about it either. Mason also said he was wondering what changes in personnel might be coming as a result.

And there has already been a “Save the Predators” group started on Facebook.

Related Pictures: here.

more on the sommet center

In Hockey, Nashville, Pictures, Sports, Videos on May 19, 2007 at 6:56 pm

First, a quick update with more pictures and media.


I have to say i’m a little concerned about the color clash between the Sommet groups color scheme and the Predators, but i’m sure it will work out.

Here’s a full video of the press conference of the announcement.


Oh – and as for many of the doubters that complained about the city not getting any of the money from the naming rights deal: I don’t recall many of them complaining about the Titans stadium. The Titans keep all the money from their deal. Tax payers funded that stadium too… so lets compare the two.

Between now and September, LP Field will host 7 events (1 four-day concert series and 3 Titans’ games). In total, LP Field has 14 events listed on its calendar until the end of 07.

Between now and September, The Sommet Center will host 40 events including concerts, graduation ceremonies for local high schools, Kats games, and 3 pre-season Predators games (assuming a schedule similar to last year). IN total, assuming no more concerts or events are booked for the rest of the year, but the Predators schedule goes toughly the way it did last year, there will be 57 events held at the Sommet Center between now and the end of ’07 .

So which of these two centers do you think is generating more revenue for the city? And for that matter, which location is going to get more exposure to more people? Even with the extra TV viewing audience that the Titans draw over the Predators, that is a big difference. I’d really like to see a break down of the numbers. More visiting team cities fans watching, etc.

Biggest deal for the Predators and more importantly fans like me is that this is a local company, stepping up and sponsoring the team, practically guaranteeing that it will stay around for many more years to come.

Oh – another interesting note: no one has parked www.sommetcenter.com if you want to cybersquat it and get sued. Vision3, a website design company that lists the “Gaylord Entertainment Center” website (whatever that is) as one of its clients, has parked www.thesommetcenter.com though. But it isn’t pointing to anything yet…

The Sommet Center

In Hockey, Nashville, Sports on May 18, 2007 at 6:09 am

The fact that this is the first blog entry i’ve ever made in proper capitalization should tell you something.

The Nashville Arena, aka Home of the Predators, will be named:

The Sommet Center

Pronounced “So-may”, they became the official team sponsors at the end of last season, and are stepping up even more this year. By the way, they provides HR, payroll, IT and general business support services for other companies.

I’ll try to watch for the new sign and post a picture asap.
Update: New signs are supposed to be up today – i will try to get pictures this afternoon.

Most about the significance later…
I have a big presentation to some higher ups this morning at work.

Update: Press conference is supposed to be at 11:00am this morning.

Update: Paul McCann posted about it here…and he thinks Forsberg may stay too.

Update: A picture!
No big sign up yet, but they have a temp sign over the main one.
More details…

From more articles:

Sommet Group Managing Partner Brian Whitfield and Leipold unveiled the arena’s new logo and signage. The Sommet Center name will be affixed to the exterior of the building and will be visible on the Broadway side of the Center to all visitors of downtown Nashville. In addition to interior and exterior signage, Sommet Center visitors will notice in-arena branding on the building’s marquees and graphics on the building’s new jumbotron, which will debut in September.

Tennesean article with pictures from the press conference:

The length and financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Leipold did say the number of years in the contract is in the single digits with multiple opportunities for renewal.

And last, video on Channel 2′s site is here. Wow.

Editorial side note: This report from Channel 2 is really bad. I’ve seen better on camera performances and reporting than this from highschool groups. I don’t want to bite the hand that is feeding me hits (NiT) but yikes.

playing to the crowd

In Christy, Entertainment, Family, Funny, Hockey, Me, Sports, Videos on May 11, 2007 at 11:27 am

Here it is.
Our 3 minutes of fame.
Christy and i running around on the ice in front of 17,113 fans during game 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

We were selected at random as we walked in to the arena.
It was pretty cool.

FYI: The Predators crew felt so bad about the way things went (we were clearly ahead when the official got in my way) that they loaded us up with as many things as they could find and cram into two Predators duffel bags. So we have bobble heads, towels, trading cards, and drinking cups galore now – all of which went into the bathroom downstairs that was already decorated in 90% Predators / 10% Spurs :-)

I was also able to snag the puck that Christy played as we left the ice.
Quite an experience.

And a special thanks to Paul McCann, the Predators PA announcer (and fellow Dell employee during his day job) who was able to secure us the DVD of the “show” – it is a raw feed from what was shown on the scoreboard.

forsberg staying in nashville?

In Blog Stuff, East Nashville, Hockey, Nashville, Sports on May 7, 2007 at 2:28 pm

I may, just may have some evidence to support that – whether or not he plays for the Nashville Predators or any other team next season – Peter Forsberg might be looking to stay in Nashville.

How am i coming up with this? Did i suddenly become friends with the hockey legend?
No.

I just check my web stats and visitors obsessively.
I had a visitor recently log in from a Swedish IP address, who hit my blog by searching Google for the phrase: “east nashville” hood

Clearly, this is Peter Forsberg (or some of his family) planning a move to the hippest ‘hood in Nashville. How can i make the jump to Forsberg?

1) How many people in Sweden are there that know that there is a part of town known as East Nashville and that it is “the hood”?

2) Google has recently implemented improved, personalized search results based on past searching history. Forsberg has searched for a lot of hockey stuff i am sure, and what do you know, i talk about hockey and East Nashville on my blog a lot.

Duh.

So all i’m sayin’ is: you heard it here first.

nhl history map

In Hockey, Sports, Videos on May 4, 2007 at 2:48 pm

I have to admit, i started this after being frustrated reading more posts from stuck-up Canadians claiming that Nashville doesn’t deserve a team and hockey belongs in Canada. Not sure what my point was going to be. Maybe that since 1926, the NHL has had more teams in the US than Canada or something. I don’t know.
Anyway, i’m not going to bother to turn this in to a rant defending hockey in the southern US.

I think the this video shows that the NHL isn’t a league for Canadians or for any ‘one’ (except maybe the northeast US, but most sports are that way, because that’s where the population centers are (and have been).

At some point later i am planning on doing one for other sports too, just for fun. Then probably layer them over each other so it will be easier to see that the NHL lost its chance during the infamous “Original Six” era when other sports were growing and they decided to be stagnant.

playoff rankings

In Blog Stuff, Hockey, Sports on April 28, 2007 at 10:51 pm

James Mirtle just posted an entry regarding the overall record of all NHL teams and their post-season success. However, since he based it on teams, it didn’t show reality very well…

Here’s the chart based on franchises.

Unfortunately, it shows the sad truth that my Nashville Predators are the one and only franchise in the history of the NHL not to have a playoff series win associated with it in anyway. :-( But I think the Coyotes/Jets franchise still has more actual futility and shame attached to it.

Note: these are based on the numbers James pulled together from whowins.com…i have no idea if they are right. However, at best they are based on last year’s numbers, not the playoffs so far this year.

Series W L Frc.
Edmonton Oilers 42 29 13 0.690
Montreal Canadiens 104 71 33 0.683
Minnesota Wild 3 2 1 0.667
Tampa Bay Lightning 8 5 3 0.625
New Jersey Devils 34 21 13 0.618
Colorado Avalanche (Nordiques) 35 21 14 0.600
Anaheim Mighty Ducks 10 6 4 0.600
New York Islanders 36 21 15 0.583
Pittsburgh Penguins 32 18 14 0.563
Philadelphia Flyers 56 31 25 0.554
Detroit Red Wings 79 43 36 0.544
Florida Panthers 6 3 3 0.500
Toronto Maple Leafs 73 35 38 0.479
Boston Bruins 80 38 42 0.475
Dallas Stars (North Stars, Seals) 46 21 25 0.457
San Jose Sharks 16 7 10 0.438
Calgary Flames (Flames) 26 11 14 0.423
New York Rangers 53 22 31 0.415
Chicago Blackhawks 63 26 37 0.413
Carolina Hurricanes (Whalers) 17 7 10 0.412
Vancouver Canucks 22 9 13 0.409
St. Louis Blues 48 19 29 0.396
Buffalo Sabres 35 13 22 0.371
Ottawa Senators 14 5 9 0.357
Washington Capitals 24 8 16 0.333
Los Angeles Kings 25 8 17 0.320
Phoenix Coyotes (Jets) 13 1 12 0.077
Nashville Predators 2 0 2 0.000

post-mortem

In Hockey, Me, Pictures, Sports on April 22, 2007 at 9:11 am

I was planning on posting about the end of the Predators season at some point, but i just read the horrid article over at the Tennessean that 2-bit writer John Glennon did. Most of the article was calling the Forsberg trade in to question…that got me riled up enough to post a response on their message board…so that, with a few modifications and pretty pictures, will be my blog post for the season ender:

One of the things Nashville needed this year (besides playoff wins) was respect around the league and in Nashville. Peter Forsberg paid off in that respect before he even put on a Nashville sweater. Much like the LA Galaxy with Beckham, I would be willing to bet that the Predators made back what they paid for Foppa’s salary in the flood of merchandising and extra tickets that he brought in, not to mention the flood of media coverage and respect it garnered from national media and fans. The trade was worth every player and draft pick we gave up for it. Having said that, i wouldn’t make the smallest effort to re-sign him. He will command too much money for the 40-game seasons that his body has left in it.

As for all the free agents (Kariya, Hartnell, Timmonen): Kariya i’d love to keep, but if we do, we MUST get another trigger man, even if young/cheap, to go with him. Kariya, Sullivan, Forsberg, Kimmo…they are all great assist guys. Amazing passing and puck moving skills. We need more guys like Radulov (and to a lesser extend Dumont and Hartnell) who have a shoot-first mentality. There were far too many games this year where D-men lead the team in shots on goal. To that point – keep Kimmo. Don’t over pay him, but he’s a strong offensive d-man and we’ve had too much success with him and Zidlicky playing that style. Back to the trigger man issue: i think it is worth it to keep Hartnell as well, even with the extra salary he will demand. He’s also a fan favorite, so that helps soften the blow for…

The coaching staff. I love Trotz. He is Good People. But he obviously can’t make the adjustments needed in the playoffs. After game 4, he said during his post game interview that what they were doing should be working (which i couldn’t argue with), and will work, they just have to keep trying it and wait for a different result. Last time I checked, doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity. Trotz is a great coach at doing a lot with a little, but given an all-star roster, he couldn’t win 2 home playoff games, much less a road-game or the series. We need a coach that can make adjustments and motivate the team. While we’re at it – a captain that can motivate as well. Kimmo is a fabulous player and I want him back on the blue line, but he and Trotz both are almost too even keeled. I don’t know about the European captain curse (I’d take Foppa as captain) but Kimmo didn’t fill that role well.

And as for all the worry about the city supporting the team if we don’t succeed – our best season attendance-wise was the 2000-2001 season, when we went 34-36-9-3 and missed the playoffs for the 3rd straight year. We’ll be fine. We just need Dell to step up and sponsor the Arena to complete the San Jose rivalry (they play in the HP Pavilion). Then all discussion of them ever leaving town would cease.

Lastly, the Tennessean needs to hire a real hockey reporter that hasn’t just been watching the NHL as long as we’ve had a team. The fact that most of the media covering the Predators (Pete Webber, Terry Crisp excepted) are not hockey people is making the community involvement level worse. The coverage is horrible, so only people that actually make it to a game and fall in love with the play on the ice ever get excited about it. Fortunately, there have been a lot of those people, especially in the last few years. But the media coverage MUST improve. (Note: I think Channel 5′s coverage did improve dramatically and I give them full marks for the effort. They are about 80% of the way there now, which is better than the 40-50% for the rest of the TV, newspaper, and radio in town.

Here is Christy’s post on the end of the season.

the game that was

In Basketball, Hockey, Me, Pictures, Sports on April 15, 2007 at 6:31 pm

I kinda feel like this represents the state of basketball in my life right now.

It’s a shot of a goal nailed up to a tree across the street from my friend Jamie‘s old place (just helped him move)

2 years ago I would have listed basketball as my number one sport, and i still love to shoot hoops on my own when no one is looking – but the last time i did that was more than a year ago. and now that i’ve gotten so in to hockey, and we have a team in town, i haven’t been following my Spurs most of this year. maybe when the NBA playoffs start up i’ll get back in to it again.

I was talking with my dad about this at the last Predators game. It really makes me sad. I just like hockey better right now. I guess that’s ok. That doesn’t make me bad right? I just grew up cheering hard-core for the Spurs for so long, i played basketball as a kid (in church leagues and pick-up games).

But the current version of the game, the way the refs call things and the way most teams play…the way the league is so unbalanced…it just doesn’t grab me the way it used to.

I am sure a lot of it has to do with the fact that i am going to hockey games live, and live a couple of hundred miles away from the nearest NBA town (500+ if you are looking for a team that actually wins games). We don’t have cable and i almost never get to watch Spurs games anymore. Here at the end of the season and in the playoffs that should change since ABC broadcasts games…but now i don’t know what’s going on. I don’t know who’s who. I couldn’t even tell you off the top of my head who plays center for the Spurs most of the time right now.

I still have a Spurs flag next to the Predators flag on my desk at work. And i still have an autographed David Robinson poster, “Go Spurs Go” sign, and a few other cool Spurs items in the sports-themed (Predators dominated) bathroom downstairs.

But alas, basketball is not the game it once was for me.

I have to say there is the teenie tiniest part of me that hopes that if the Predators don’t win it all this year that they just get knocked out early so i can have more time to watch the Spurs in the playoffs. Of course the same could go in reverse. I don’t even know if the Spurs are strong enough to guarantee our usually deep playoff run this year.

pictures, lots of pictures

In Blog Stuff, Christy, Funny, Hockey, Me, Pictures, Sports on April 14, 2007 at 6:11 pm

I haven’t blogged on pictures in a while, but for those who have been following my Flickr site, i have been posting a TON (several hundred in the last couple of weeks, actually).

I certainly wouldn’t expect most (if any) of my loyal throng of readers (i think i’m up to 4 or 5 now if my mom has been able to “make my blog work”).

So, here is a quick summary of what i think are the better and more interesting pictures, as well as the stories behind some of them. (for all of these pictures, just click to see the full view on my Flickr page)

First is a series of pictures taken with long exposure times. Basically the “shutter” (it is a digital camera, so no real shutter) is open for a full 15 seconds. The result is brilliant lights, colors, etc, as well as streaks/stretches anything that moves.

One of the down sides to the long shutter time is that if the camera doesn’t stay perfectly still, it totally blurs the image. Sometimes the results are kinda cool though. I’ve started doing it on purpose occasionally:

Of course, many of the hundreds of pictures i have posted recently have been of hockey related since we’ve been going to so many games.

Here are some pictures i was able to grab of a tradition that i have noticed that i think is really cool and i doubt most people have seen. Many teams in the NHL just have a bucket of pucks they pour on the ice for free skate (warm ups). Others (like the sharks) have a guy throw them all out on the ice. However, the Predators have someone meticulously stack them in a pyramid shape on the edge of the boards by the tunnel. Then when Vokoun comes out (he almost always leads the team out the tunnel) he knocks them off on to the ice.

Anyway, that’s it for now.
Many more on my Flickr site, and i’m sure i’ll post more soon.

fantasy hockey results

In Hockey, Me, Sports on April 9, 2007 at 10:22 am

Sweet! I won!

Honestly i didn’t rig the league (i was the commissioner and controlled settings) but i think i did win largely because i was one of the only people that remembered to check on it on a regular basis.

It was a very close final 2 weeks (the finals went for 2 weeks instead of one).
I didn’t take the lead until late in the final week. Here’s the final scoring summary.

Congrats to all my fellow players and thanks everyone for playing!

Final standings:

1. Predators (Paul)
2. Preds Baby (Ryan)
3. Knuckledraggers (Jason)
4. Puck It Up (Brice)
5. Sabertooth Diago (Brett)
6. Nashville Starcats (Christy)
7. Frog Feet (Danielle)
8. Mandos (Kevin)

Update: I also made it to the final round of my Fantasy Basketball league (Someone else is the commissioner for this one). This one will be over April 18th

the nhl experience – nashville style

In Funny, Hockey, Nashville, Pictures, Sports, Videos on April 8, 2007 at 3:43 pm

I’ve shot a good deal of video at recent Predators games.
As a result, i have a series of them uploaded to Google Video that, when strung together, may give you some idea what attending games can be like. (All of these can be viewed much larger by clicking on the Google Video logo instead of just hitting play)

First, we have the occasional open practice the day before a game. The Sportsplex is open to anyone that wants to watch the players run drills or sometimes even have a full practice.

Second, we have the pre-game warm-ups.
Anyone is allowed to go down near ice level (or to the glass if you get there early enough) and watch the players up close. If you are lucky, you may even be one of the many fans that J.P. Dumont or Vern Fiddler flips a puck to over the glass.

Next we have the visitor starting lineups.
In Nashville we have the tradition of yelling “SUCKS!” after each visiting players name is called out. After the coach, we yell “AND HE SUCKS TOO!”

After that, the Predators mascot, Gnash, is introduced. Sometimes he just comes out on the ice riding a four wheeler. Sometimes he comes straight down a rip line. But for really big games (first and last games of the year, playoffs, etc) he will come down the rip line swinging.

Then of course we have the Predators starting lineups as everyone skates out for the game.

Once the game gets starting, it usually isn’t long before someone on the opposing team is whisted for a penalty and has to go to the penalty box.
For this, we all yell “AHHHHHH…SIT DOWN YA LOSER!”

Once we are on the power play, it usually isn’t very long until we get to go through one of the many stages of our goal celebration with our own creative lyrics to “The Hey Song”

During intermission, there is usually some sort of silly contest featuring some people in tennis shoes trying to run around on the ice. This is my favorite flavor:

After a while the opposing team gets tired of being pushed around and they may start a little fight or two…and then someone may throw a catfish on the ice…and sometimes they happen all at once

So see, it is so much fun – everyone should come out and watch all the hockey games they can in person!

3rd jersey update

In Blog Stuff, Hockey, Sports on April 6, 2007 at 10:48 am

A quick update to a post i made waaaay back in October.

Much to the delight of fans (that hated the mustard jerseys) the NHL has outlawed 3rd jerseys in for next season. So last night’s season finale may be the last time we see them.

However, my call was right back in Oct – we were much better with them than without them. Much better.

Here’s how the record broke down this year (with one game to go):

win loss otl points %
overall 50 23 8 0.667
home 28 8 5 0.744
road 22 15 3 0.588
home jersey* 17 7 3 0.685
road jersey* 22 15 3 0.588
mustard 11 1 2 0.857

* Yes these numbers include the 2 times this year we wore our road whites at home and 2 times we wore and home blues on the road. We split those 4 games 2-2 so they were a wash.

So, clearly we were at our best wearing the mustard jerseys. Enough that i really have to wonder if it helped. Our blue home jerseys are dark, like the refs…i can’t tell you the number of times i’ve watched home games where we pass the puck to the ref…at least it looks like it. They are very distinctive sweaters and i really wonder if it helps us see each other better for passing.

Maybe i’m nuts. Maybe it was the teams we played.
But given the samples to pull from, i really have to wonder…

I wish i had the time/resources to do this for other teams to see what the results were.

pictures and videos

In Blog Stuff, Christy, Hockey, Me, Pictures, Sports, Videos on April 2, 2007 at 4:40 pm

Just a quick update on lots of new pictures I’ve posted to Flickr
I’ve included some of my favorites below, but as usual, just go to my main Flickr page to see the latest pictures.

Also – I now have VIDEO!
I’m starting to upload videos shot with my new camera (and probably some other random ones eventually too) to Google Video.

As a demonstration of the exciting videos you have to look forward to, here is a video that Christy shot at the Predators open practice recently. It is Vitaly Vishnevski doing puck drills. Thrilling i know.

I have to run now, but WAY WAY WAY more to come.

hockey championship

In Christy, Games, Hockey, Me, Sports on March 26, 2007 at 12:24 pm

It has come down to this.

Our Yahoo Fantasy Hockey league’s championship game is this week. I am proud to say i beat the odds (and my friend Brice) to get to the championship game.

This has really been a lot of fun. Christy did it with me, as well as a bunch of friends from work (and my friend Kevin, and my friend Brice’s wife Danielle). It did what i hoped it would, and gave me a view of the rest of the league. Christy and i (especially Christy) drafted heavily from the Predators, being the fans that we are, but it made us pay attention and at least notice when major players in the rest of the league got hurt or got a hat trick, etc.

Here are the final regular season standings (click to enlarge):

And here’s the way the playoffs went down (click to enlarge)


I have to also say that Christy made a great run for the playoffs and despite her team being made of 40% Predators players, she did very well – until the Predators all got hurt. The string of injuries that hurt the Preds have just about killed her in the standings. I think she would have won at least one round in the playoffs the way she was going, if it wasnt for the injuries.

Even if i don’t win this week, i’m very happy with my outcome. I figured i’d end up in the middle of the pack.

green d-men

In Hockey, Sports on March 17, 2007 at 11:11 am

Just a quick note to make sure everyone checks out the great article on ESPN.com about the Predators young defensemen. Great article.

Also, though i can’t attend tonights game, i do want to encourage everyone to NOT give in to the St Patrick’s Day temptation and wear green to the game tonight. We are playing the Dallas Stars tonight and their colors are green and gold. So wear green underwear if you must for St. Patrick’s Day, but don’t paint the Nashville Arena green and let the Stars feel at home.

whose fault?

In Hockey, Sports on February 26, 2007 at 11:17 am

I was going to let this one pass, but considering the Jim Rome is still talking about this on his show (he spent most of Fri on it, now today too), i decided to throw my $0.02 in. If you haven’t seen or heard about the fight on Thurs night, check ESPN‘s article and included video.

No the only thing Barry Melrose missed in his analysis is this: It is Chris Drury’s own fault that he got hurt. Chris Neil made a legal hit. Fine. Drury had his head down. Fine. Drury didn’t have his helmet on right, it went flying, and his melon bounced off the ice. Problem.

Had Drury worn his gear correctly the initial fight for the hit on a star player would have been the only action. But he was an idiot, cost himself the rest of the seasons and cost his team his contribution through the playoffs. The only other person i’ve found online who has called this out is blogger Jamie Fitzpatrick.

After that, Ottawa was stupid. They should have had at least a 2nd or 3rd line crew out, knowing that Buffalo would send out their tough guys. Their other players should have defended their goalie when he got jumped by a forward (though i have to say i love the huge smile on Ray Emory’s face through all his fighting).

tricksy

In Funny, Hockey, Sports on February 17, 2007 at 10:33 am

In an interview with sports radio 104.5 yesterday, Predators GM David Poile said that he drug his feet a little on the deal before making his final offer so that Forsberg would still be with Philly and give them a chance to do what they did – beat Detroit and help the Preds out a bit.

So Foppa was playing for the Preds before he knew he was :-)

forsberg

In Hockey, Sports on February 16, 2007 at 8:34 am

Poile did it.

The Preds now have Peter Forsberg.
Amazing.

I have to say, prior to today, i was cool to the idea of trading for him. I felt like we had a solid team that if we went on a roll could go deep. I was getting excited about the Preds winning a round or two. Now, we have to be cup favorites. Most of all i was afraid of us having to give up Hartnell or Radulov or someone else on our active roster.

But Poile knows what he’s doing. We had to give up Scottie Upshall and defensive prospect Ryan Parent, both of who are solid players. But Upshall was about as good as he was going to be. Parent hurts a little more, but we are so deep with d-man prospects that it isn’t a big concern. What hurts the most is the loss of our 1st and 3rd round picks next year. But again, Poile has drafted so well that Milwalkee (our minor league team) went all the way to the championship finals last year. We aren’t hurting for young prospects.

And don’t forget – Forsberg had to agree to this deal. He had a no-trade clause in his contract. He was willing and wanted to come to Nashville.

This has to take us from strong contenders to Cup favorites. My biggest concern is that our team is still very young, and few have gone deep in the playoffs. Now expectations are being poured on. How do they react? That’s the only quesiton left for the Preds, and that is a good place to be.

For more coverage: Barry Melrose’s take is here (video). Burnside here. SI article here. Tennessean here.

preds plate

In History/Politics, Hockey, Sports on February 15, 2007 at 11:12 am

Anyone interested in a Predators license plate? Of course i would be!

Read here and here.

Everyone let your state rep know. They would just be $35, and proceeds would go toward the Predators Foundation.

(The image i put in here is something i just came up with based on the Titans’ plate. It will not necessarily be the design)

who are you?

In Hockey, Sports on February 14, 2007 at 8:39 pm

All this talk of trades (especially the talk of the Preds being on the short-list for Peter Forsberg) got me thinking about how much players move around. But, as i pointed out in an earlier post, the Preds organization is one that tends to lean toward consistency.

I think i understand one of the reasons the hockey media aren’t covering the Predators much relative to other media darlings (Pittsburgh, Toronto, Vancouver, etc) – they don’t know us.

Of the 29 players that have played for Nashville this year, only 8 of them have played for a team other than the Preds in their career. Just tonight, of the 19 players on the ice for Nashville, only 7 have played for a team other than the Preds. Of the 3 coaches, only assistant coach Brent Peterson has coached at the NHL level elsewhere in the league. Two of our five 15-goal scorers are home-grown.

In this age of mobile players, media in various cities usually get a chance to see more teams. But the Predators players haven’t been around to be seen. But hey – the media should still see the players when the come to visit home teams around the league right? Well, thanks to the unbalanced schedule the cheapskate owners have implemented, the Preds only see 1/3rd of the Eastern conference, and only half of those games are on the road in the east. Since most of the major media outlets are based in the east…it just makes sense. Or rather it doesn’t.

Fix the schedule!

hockey updates

In Hockey, Sports on February 11, 2007 at 8:13 am

For those that haven’t heard, the Predators just made two quick trades. The first one had me a bit worried, but the second made perfect sense. I honestly wonder why this wasn’t done all at once as a good old-fashioned 3-way trade.

First we traded center Joseph Vasicek (who never performed the way we expected) back to Carolina for center Eric Belanger. This trade just sat for a day. Most Preds fans i know were left scratching their heads. Yes, anything was better than letting Vasicek earn $1.3mil as a healthy scratch game after game, but was this really an upgrade? Most speculation had him centering the 3rd line between Hartnell and Radulov…which didn’t make sense to me given Hartnell’s recent ability to play as a big center down low (thank you Arnott for teaching him how to park in the blue ice).

Then came the second trade: Belanger for Vishnevski. Now this makes sense! A big physical, hitting defenseman. This finally gives us four “d-men’s d-men” (with Hamuis, Weber, and Zanon) to compliment our offensive d-men (Z and Timonen).

We also finally have the roster flexibility we needed. Unloaded a forward, and added a d-man. Zanon and Radulov can both go down without clearing wavers, so i think Poile finally hit the balance he needed.


In other Predators news: We got blown away by the Kings at home in front of a sell-out crowd last night. That puts us at 2-4 in our last 6 games after we had gone 10-1 in our previous 11. The Kings certainly came to play, but we need some sort of shake-up. Hopefully the trades will help get us back on track.

I also have to wonder if being at the top of the standings and the extra media coverage we are finally getting (at home and nationally) is distracting the team somewhat. I hate to think that could be the case, but with some of the younger players, it could be a factor.

I will also go on record as saying that if Vokoun can’t stay at home and play goalie, we need to be playing Mason more often. 4 times in the last 3 games Vokoun has cost us goals by being caught yards outside the blue ice. Last night he left Legwand and Suter playing goalie for LA’s 3rd goal (video evidence here). If he wants to trade places with them, he needs to discuss that with the coach before the games start. Mason has still been the better goalie lately. We can’t afford to slip in the division standings. Trotsy: play your hot hand.


In other hockey news: Toronto’s Kris Newbury was taken off the ice on a stretcher last night after a fight with the Pen’s Ronald Petrovicky. As many have said before, this is going to be what finally causes the outcry to ban fighting in hockey. If this has been Mats Sundin and he was out for the year (or his career) i think we would be hearing cries for restrictions on fighting already. At the very least, i think the league should force the linesmen to step in when someone’s helmet comes off (similar to jersey’s coming off now).

I am definitely one of those who loves a good fight in hockey, but i don’t really see what it adds to the game that good hitting doesn’t provide. As much as i can’t stand David Stern, i think Bettman needs to take a cue from the NBA and clean up its act if it wants to appeal to a wider audience (which i think is the right thing for the sport). With the rules as they are now, there isn’t an action worth retaliating for that isn’t already illegal. Thugs should not be responsible for protecting start players – refs making the right calls should be.

But that’s my two cents on that one.

more respect

In Hockey, Sports, Videos on February 2, 2007 at 10:46 am

Well, ESPN continues to notice and cover the Preds. We still top their Power Rankings. Terry Frei just did a feature story on the team (main story on the espn.com NHL section right now) . Though i will say his story is yet another story talking about Trotz talking about that the Canadian media aren’t talking about us. It’s getting a little old.

However, someone is actually talking about our hockey playing: Barry Melrose (ESPN’s main hockey analyst) just answered the question “Are the Predators for real?” in a cool video clip. I like his answer :-)

mtsu alum the next nhl comish?

In Entertainment, Hockey, Me, Nashville, Sports on January 31, 2007 at 5:40 pm

That’s right. Apparently MTSU alum (my alma mater) Eddie Gossage is the short list for the NHL commisioners job when Gary Bettman’s contract expires after the 07-08 season.

I’m not a 100% Bettman basher the way some are – i think the new collective bargaining agreement and new rules, etc have been great for the sport. However, under Bettman’s watch there have been 2 lockouts, one season lost all together, and the league has all but disappeared from the national radar in the US. Attendance is up, showing that hardcore fans in NHL cities are supporting the sport, but TV, radio, and other coverage around the rest of the US is paltry at best. I definitely think he needs to go and conventional wisdom is that the league owners agree.

At this point, no official inquiries have been made. Gossage is denying that he is going anywhere or that he has officially talked to anyone with the NHL. He has said he is commited to heading the Texas Motor Speedway as he has sucessfully done for a few years now. But he is a known hockey fan (gotta figure he’s a Preds fan right?) and is apparently frequently courted by other sports entities for his marketing prowess.

0.7

In Entertainment, Hockey, Sports on January 29, 2007 at 6:25 pm
0.7

That is the Nielsen rating that the NHL All-Star game managed to draw last Wed night. Just 672,948 people. 474,298 households.

Honestly that is better than it could have been. After all, Gary Bettman (NHL commissioner) and allowed Versus (formerly the “Outdoor Living Network”) to cover the game rather than NBC or another major network. …And they decided to run it on Wed night, not a weekend. …And decided to run the Young Stars and Skills Competition against the State of the Union address in the US. …And decided to run the main All-Star game up against American Idol – the number one program on TV. The only worse decision would have been to put it up against the Super Bowl, or maybe make it an internet-radio-only broadcast.

Even in Canada they only drew a 1.2 rating. That’s bad. It measured a 0.5 rating in the host city of Dallas. The best US city was Buffalo (which counts as Canada) with a 7.1 rating.

To give you an idea of how bad this really is…
Many people are writing about how attendance is poor in the NHL this year. We are certainly hearing about it in Nashville. Well, the league average for attendance is 16,954 per game. Assuming that on any given night one-half of the league is playing, that means there are 127,156 people who actually pay money and take hours out of their day to go watch a game in person. That isn’t counting the people sitting at home watching the games on TV. I can just about guarantee you that on any given night, more people watch a hockey game than they did last Wed night.

I really wish they had done what they did several years ago and do a combined All-Star Weekend. Do it the same weekend as the NBA All-Star game. Years ago they had the advantage of both leagues being covered by the same network so it was an all-day programming block. It was great. At the time i a basketball fan living in a non-hockey city – but i watched the NHL All-Star game that year and really enjoyed it.

And what baffles me…Bettman just allowed Versus to pick-up not only next year’s option to cover games (it was their option), but also every season through 2011. The only hope the NHL has now is to get NBC (or another network if NBC drops out) to cover more games on broadcast TV. They might have a prayer there if NBC’s upcoming schedule does well. After all – NBC lost the NBA and their only other sports property now is covering football on just 16 Sun nights a year. And after all, NBC’s first hockey game of the year got a 1.1 rating. And it was just a random early season game.

Oh – one more thing…Versus needs to do what every other sports broadcaster does and make arrangements for a flexible schedule. Just a guess, but in late March when the playoff race is heating up, i think they will regret having Minn vs. Phoenix lined-up.

Anyway…as soon as the NHL moves to a network that doesn’t lead into games with Survivor reruns (yes – reality show reruns) and follow it up with angler fishing, i think they’ll be doing better.

Just a guess.

Mason asks for fan support

In Blog Stuff, Hockey, Sports on January 25, 2007 at 7:52 pm

I just logged in to my myspace account for the first time in forever.
Chris Mason is one of my “friends” and he just posted this message…

From: Chris M

Date: Jan 24, 2007 5:45 PM
Subject : Attention Predators Fans!
Body: I have noticed the empty seats at the GEC this season. This is odd because we are the best team in the league. All I am asking you is to go to more games or buy season tickets, and to spread the word to anyone else you know. To all season ticket holders, I thank you. Go Preds!

30 Mason

Now, take with a grain of salt that i don’t know for sure that this is Chris Mason.
But…i found it interesting.

it worked!

In Hockey, Sports on January 15, 2007 at 9:31 pm

I’m almost afraid to think it. It may jinx it.

As my wife just said, “Craig Leipold is a genius”.

We were just flipping channels watching the various local 10 o’clock news broadcasts tonight. Predators coverage was amazing!

Channel 2 gave a solid two minutes of coverage including several highlights of tonight’s game. Game highlights, post-game interviews with Erat, Legwand, and Arnott. Then…and this blew me away…they showed 15 seconds of highlights from tonight’s Red Wings game to promote our upcoming match-up! Wow! You mean there’s a whole league of this “hockey”?!?

Next was Channel 5 with solid coverage and a good 30 seconds of highlights followed by post-game interviews with Erat, Legwand, and coach Trotz. Then they mentioned the upcoming Red Wings game, saying it was important because they were right behind us in the division.

Channel 4 even covered the Radulov/Fiddler roster issues. They interviewed Fiddler about it, thought they misspelled his name (“Fidler”). They then showed game highlights for about 15 seconds, then showed post-game interviews with Legwand and Erat. They too plugged the next game vs. the Red Wings. They also pointed out that we now have more wins than any other team in the NHL.

Yesterday Channel 5 also did a great feature story on Scott Nichol and another recently on Alex Radulov. They were nice enough to post the video online here.

Wow…
I just can’t believe it.
A great article in the City Paper today.
Great coverage of the game on local TV.

Awesome!
Keep it coming!

we’re number one (almost)

In Hockey, Sports on January 15, 2007 at 7:46 am

The Preds are just 3 points behind the Ducks for #1 in the conference with two games in hand.

And this math-based (read: “non biased”) Power Rankings site now shows Nashville as the #1 team in the whole NHL.

Go Preds!

more respect

In Hockey, Sports on January 13, 2007 at 9:51 pm

It looks like the respect and media coverage for the Preds is continuing to snowball.

  • Kimo Timmonen was just named to his second All-Star game appearance.
  • Head Coach Barry Trotz will be the assistant coach for the game (by virtue of being in 2nd place in the conference).
  • Shea Webber and Alexander Radulov will play in the Young Stars game.
  • Radulov just got a feature story on the front of NHL.com. Though the Tennessean should sue them for it. It is almost a word-for-word copy of a story about Radulov’s celebration’s that the Nashville paper did exactly one month (and i wrote about here.)
  • This article on SI.com argued that Paul Kariya and Chris Mason should have made the All-Star squad too. Oh well.
  • Si.com also gave us an “A” for the mid-season grade. Not the A+ that a couple of other teams got, but better than most. Also named Chris Mason the first-half MVP and called Timmonen a Norris trophy contender.

Also an interesting note: Former Pred Yanic Perreault (a journeyman face-off specialist who was unsigned at the begining of the season and is largely credited for helping turn around Phoenix’s year) has made the All-Star game as well. Go Yanic!

divisional parity

In Hockey, Sports on January 13, 2007 at 9:21 pm

I just noticed something really odd/funny/amazing about the standings in the western conference of the NHL.

All of the games aren’t over for tonight, but as of this second, the point rankings of the western conference look like this (not playoff standings, pure point rankings).

Team Points Division
1. *Anaheim 67 Pacific
2. *Nashville 65 Central
3. Detroit 61 Central
4. San Jose 58 Pacific
5. Dallas 53 Pacific
6. *Vancouver 51 Northwest
7. Calgary 50 Northwest
8. Minnesota 49 Northwest
9. Edmonton 46 Northwest
10. Colorado 45 Northwest
11. Phoenix 42 Pacific
12. Chicago 39 Central
13. St. Louis 39 Central
14. LA Kings
38 Pacific
15. Columbus 37 Central

* = Division Leaders will be seed 1-3 for playoffs.

Notice anything?
Just a guess here, but i think the Northwest Division is fairly well balanced.

rory was robbed

In History/Politics, Hockey, Sports on January 12, 2007 at 8:00 am

Extra extra, read all about it .

got $50mil laying around?

In Entertainment, History/Politics, Hockey, Nashville, Sports on January 12, 2007 at 7:40 am

I was having a good day, and then this just ruined my morning.

There are two ways to look at this:

  1. The newspaper is making a big deal out of this and Leipold is just crying out for fans to come to games and looking for help to lessen the financial burden of a franchise that is still loosing money.
  2. Leipold’s promise that he is not interested in moving the franchise is just typical sports-franchise owner misdirection and he has seen in the discussions about the Penguins moving that there is money to be made in other markets.

I have also been surprised by the fact that we still don’t have a new corporate-name sponsor for the Home of the Predators. It is still officially called the Gaylord Entertainment Center, but the Gaylord company stopped paying for naming rights a long time ago. It is just part of their original contract that is has to still be called the GEC until another name-rights holder is found.

Our attendance averages are up this year so far from last year about 300 per game, and we still haven’t gone through the playoff buildup, and post-Titans part of the season that always increase attendance. I don’t think the franchise is really in danger of moving. But i hope this does light a fire under local media and the Predators marketing office to get attendance numbers up.

I don’t think Leipold is really looking to move. As this article points out, he has one of the cushiest arena deals in all of sports. I think he just wants to shake things up and share the losses when the team runs negative.

The good news out of the second article: We get our new scoreboard over the summer!

(note: Paul McCann’s got a good write-up here)

goalie news

In Hockey, Sports on January 11, 2007 at 2:24 pm

Quick note about the Predators goalie “controversy” as it stands today. Vokoun will take a while to come back to full strength (at least 6 weeks). But here’s the important note:

Trotz said the goaltending chores likely will be split between Vokoun and Chris Mason for this weekend’s back-to-back games against Columbus, and for every set of back-to-backs in the future.

Very glad to see that.
Get both players a lot of time. There are 7 back-to-backs left in the Preds schedule, including a home/away over-nighter against Detroit in mid-March. Assuming the Mason will get a few more games scattered throughout the next few weeks, that should keep both goalies fresh and running strong – and happy.

Related note: We lost Mike Leighton to Philadelphia, but that’s no big deal.

media coverage update 2

In Hockey, Sports on January 10, 2007 at 9:09 am

It looks like the media may finally be noticing.

The Tennessean had an actual column on the Preds on the front of the sports page! Granted, college basketball isn’t really going yet, college football is done, the Titans’ season is over… but we’ll take it!

I think this really will be the time for the Preds to get a lot of coverage and win over a lot of fans. With nothing else going on in Nashville, a strong showing (run for best in the west? maybe some all-stars?) will really help the cause with casual ‘fans’ in town.

And Yahoo left us as the feature story on the NHL’s front page:

outdoor NHL hockey

In Hockey, Sports on January 9, 2007 at 5:42 pm

This would be cool. Literally.
From this article:

It appears to be the Toronto Maple Leafs‘ turn to play host to an outdoor game.

The team is planning to play a regular-season game next season – possibly on Jan. 1, 2008 – at a new 20,000-seat outdoor soccer stadium in Toronto.

“We haven’t signed off on it yet, but it would be a special event for a new stadium and put it on the map,” said Richard Peddie, president and CEO of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment.

media coverage update

In Hockey, Sports on January 9, 2007 at 5:35 pm

Well, it still isn’t the front page of the NY Times, but i’ll take it.

Front of Yahoo Sports NHL page tonight:

Front page of ESPN’s NHL section:

And ESPN’s power rankings for this week:


Also, for those who would like to know more about the tradition of fights and tough-guy enforcers in the NHL, read this article on ESPN’s site.

funny hockey video

In Funny, Hockey, Sports, Videos on January 8, 2007 at 11:25 am

This is really funny.

The Ottawa Senators are famous for doing their postgame interviews during their cool down process on exercise bikes — something New York Rangers winger Brendan Shanahan had a little fun with when the Rangers were in town last month.

hockey videos and notes

In Hockey, Sports, Videos on January 7, 2007 at 3:21 pm

For those of you that are not hockey fans i hate for you to see these videos. You think hockey is about fights. You have no respect. But for those that understand that what you are about to see is not all hockey is about, enjoy:

First is the fight from last night’s game. Tootoo vs. Mayers.
The really strange part…they took their sweet time setting up to fight, and Tootoo even asked the linesmen if they could fight before going at it. Strange.
Good fight. Toots took a lot of hits, but Mayers went down first. Call this one a draw.


Second video is what will soon be known as the most embarrassing play in NHL history until someone does something similar in the playoffs. In a huge game between Edmonton and Dallas (fighting for position in the western conference), Dallas has a chance to close out the game with an empty netter and then it all goes horribly horribly wrong.

Just watch.

For the record, Dallas won in the shootout, but gave Edmonton a free point in the standings.


Lastly, The New Jersey Devils and goalie Martin Broduer just shut-out Montreal and win 3-0. Broduer made 28 saves in the effort. According to the box score, the 3 stars for the game:
  1. Brian Gionta, 2 goals (Devils)
  2. Scott Gomez, 2 assists (Devils)
  3. Chris Huet, 34 saves (Canadiens)

Now Huet may have played a great game, but how do you make the loosing goalie of a shut-out one of the three stars and NOT include the goalie that got the shut-out? Is Broduer that great that he is taken for granted that much?

respect?

In Hockey, Sports on January 4, 2007 at 11:12 am

Still no feature stories.
Still no major coverage.

But even ESPN can’t help but recognize that the Preds are good.

They have us ranked 3rd over all, and the best team in the west – above Anaheim and San Jose.

And now it looks like our goalie controversy is behind us. Which as a fan is good. But is too bad at the same time – it would have brought a lot of media coverage.

rookie of the year

In Hockey, Sports on January 2, 2007 at 11:34 am

Conventional wisdom says that Evgeni Malkin will be receiving the Calder trophy as the NHL rookie of the year at the end of the season. I admit he has played an outstanding season. Anze Kopitar is the other name sometimes mentioned. Here are the reasons everyone thinks they deserve it….

(These stats are based on all rookies who have played in 10 games or more this season and scored at least one point. You can see all these stats yourself on my cool google spreadsheet here)

POINTS

Rank Player
1 EVGENI MALKIN 36
2 ANZE KOPITAR 35
3 WOJTEK WOLSKI 29
4 PAUL STASTNY 29
5 DUSTIN PENNER 24
6 MATTHEW CARLE 21
7 TRAVIS ZAJAC 19
8 ALEXANDER RADULOV 18
9 G. LATENDRESSE 17
10 IAN WHITE 15


GOALS

Rank Player
1 EVGENI MALKIN 18
2 DUSTIN PENNER 15
3 WOJTEK WOLSKI 14
4 ANZE KOPITAR 11
5 ALEXANDER RADULOV 11
6 JORDAN STAAL 11
7 PAUL STASTNY 9
8 TRAVIS ZAJAC 8
9 G. LATENDRESSE 8
10 JOE PAVELSKI 8

POINTS PER GAME

Rank Player
1 EVGENI MALKIN 1.09
2 ANZE KOPITAR 0.85
3 WOJTEK WOLSKI 0.76
4 PAUL STASTNY 0.74
5 JOE PAVELSKI 0.72
6 ALEXANDER RADULOV 0.67
7 DUSTIN PENNER 0.59
8 MATTHEW CARLE 0.54
9 TRAVIS ZAJAC 0.53
10 G. LATENDRESSE 0.45

Here’s the real reason i think Malkin and Kopitar don’t deserve it…

PLUS / MINUS RATING

Rank Player +/-
1 SHANE O’BRIEN 13
2 ALEXANDER RADULOV 11
3 LASSE KUKKONEN 8
4 MARK GIORDANO 7
5 JAMES WISNIEWSKI 6
47 EVGENI MALKIN -4
59 ANZE KOPITAR -12

I’ll give you one guess who i think has earned it more at this point in the season…Alexander Radulov. Besides the above mentioned +/- stat, here are the other stats that support this argument…

POINTS PER MINUTE ON THE ICE

Rank Player
1 ALEXANDER RADULOV 1.55
2 EVGENI MALKIN 1.30
3 WOJTEK WOLSKI 1.26
4 PAUL STASTNY 1.05
5 JOE PAVELSKI 1.05
6 ANZE KOPITAR 1.00
7 DUSTIN PENNER 0.97
8 G. LATENDRESSE 0.89
9 BEN ONDRUS 0.86
10 RYANE CLOWE 0.83

GOALS PER MINUTE ON THE ICE

Rank Player
1 ALEXANDER RADULOV 0.95
2 EVGENI MALKIN 0.65
3 JOE PAVELSKI 0.64
4 DUSTIN PENNER 0.61
5 WOJTEK WOLSKI 0.61
18 ANZE KOPITAR 0.31

Alexander Radulov (like Kopitar) is on a competitive team. The Penguins are fun to watch, but they aren’t winning games and will not make the playoffs. The Predators meanwhile are fighting for position as one of the top 4 teams in the west and the league.

The only reason for Radulov to not be rookie of the year is that Malkin and Kopitar get far more ice time than Radulov per game (Malkin, 20:11 – Kopitar 20:29 – Radulov 10:19). This is strange reasoning, but i will admit that this stat could be a disadvantage when voting begins, though i’m not sure it should be that way.

To me, the plus/minus stat is huge – Malkin and especially Kopitar are huge liabilities to their teams when on the ice. Radulov meanwhile has a +11 rank. Good for any player. Great for a rookie.

Will Radulov get the award? Only way that will happen is if Malkin gets hurt or just goes cold, which i don’t think is going to happen.

But hey, the league owes Pittsburgh the Calder trophy that Sydney Crosby should have gotten in the 05-06 season. (Ovechkin was given the award because the year that should have been his rookie year, 04-05, was canceled due to lockout, giving him an extra year in the minors to develop). That, plus the fact that the NHL wants the Penguins to be as high-profile as possible to make them harder to move given their recent ownership issues.

And after all…we’re “just Nashville“.

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.

squish the buffaslugs

In Christy, Funny, Hockey, Me, Pictures, Sports on December 20, 2006 at 10:27 pm

Christy and i have free tickets to the Predators game against the Buffalo Sabres tomorrow night. They are very good seats, just a few rows from the ice.

So Christy got a great idea for a poster…we just made it:

For background reading on what a “Buffaslug” is, check here, here, and here.
Watch for us on TV!


Update: We had fun at the game, but obviously it didn’t turn out the way we wanted. We were very surprised by how many Buffalo fans were there, too. And apparently many of them came from Buffalo – just for the game. I think Christy had a good idea: Hold a Red Wings vs. Sabres exhibition game in Municipal Auditorium, then lock the doors.

Anyway – here are a couple of pictures from the game. We did get on the jumbotron with the sign in the first intermission, but i didn’t think fast enough to pull my phone out and take a picture then. Oh well. We were still cool. And the seats were great.



just having fun

In Entertainment, Hockey, Sports on December 14, 2006 at 7:43 am

I got to see Alexander Radulov at the Darcy Hordichuck Show last night.

He is so fun. His english is coming along well, but is still bad – but he is so enthusiastic.

Scott Hartnell: “It’s like every goal is his first goal. His arms are going wild and even when he’s by himself, it seems like he’s giving high-fives to everyone because his hands are going crazy. His facial expression is priceless, too. It’s like he’s a kid in a candy store. It’s a lot of fun to watch and be around. I feed off that. I love watching him. You get a smile, you get a kick out of it and it makes you want to play harder for him and for the team.”

Alexander Radulov: “That’s just the way I play. I feel better that way. I’m excited and I can’t hold it inside. I need to let it out.”

Apparently Steve Sullivan encouraged him to calm it down a little…

Alexander Radulov: “You have to respect the other team, so you have to be more quiet,” Radulov said. “When I first came (to the NHL), I didn’t know that. But now I understand. I need to take it easy.”

Coach Barry Trotz: “The old school of thinking is sometimes just that — old. It’s the new NHL, baby. We have an exciting product and he’s an exciting player. If it wasn’t genuine, then I’d have a problem with it. It would be showmanship. But he just loves to score. He gets a real rush from it.”

I’d say keep it up A-Rad.

You’re making the game fun. Not to mention, helping NHL 07 look more realistic. The characters always have huge celebrations for every goal – even when you score 12 a game. And apparently Radulov actually did the whole ‘stick-is-a-sword’ thing while he was in the juniors. I’d pay money to see him do that in the NHL.

updates

In Friends, Hockey, Me, Work on December 7, 2006 at 9:22 pm

Wow, for a while there i was on a pace of better than one post a day. It’s been a crazy week though, so, not much lately. Hopefully i’ll get to post more over the weekend.

BABY:
Quick update though on Annie Hilscher. She and mom Sarah (and dad Nick) are all doing fine. Last update i heard she is actually off oxygen and doesn’t have to be under the anti-jaundice-lamp-thing anymore. She may actually get to come home relatively soon, which is amazing to me. I was assuming she’d be in the hospital for a month or more at least.

JOB:
In other news, my new job is going really well. It’s a lot of fun and really hits my strengths and comfort spots. But don’t get me wrong, it is definitely a challenge. My new group’s numbers are very low by the standards of the group i came from, so there is a lot of room for improvement. It is great to feel like i might actually be in a position to do something about it though, as my last few jobs often felt like great places for ideas, but no resources for follow-through. It is also going to be very challenging in learning the new organization (i use that term very loosely). This group is BIG and complicated. I have about 30 names and faces i need to learn fast (managers) and several hundred people i support overall. I am certainly better at names/faces than i used to be, but it is still a challenge.

PREDATORS:
I think the NHL board of governors needs to not only fix the schedule back so we can play all the teams, but they need to change the game to just two halves. The whole three-period thing is quaint, but it is costing the Predators games. We have been ahead or tied at the second intermission in almost every game we’ve played lately – and in the last several have either given up a lead we’ve had to re-earn, or lost the game entirely. Even in the blow-out against the Ducks the other night, we were competitive until the 3rd, then gave up a lot. The thing that is odd is that i don’t think it is a conditioning thing, which would be my first guess. We are a team built for speed and endurance and i haven’t noticed us slowing down in the 3rd. Just getting sloppy.

Plenty more to post about later (my new phone, East Nashville happenings, computer issues, etc) but that is all for now.

later

best seats in the house

In Hockey, Me, Sports on December 2, 2006 at 10:51 pm

(Blogger is having some problems with its posting interface. Can’t do any formatting or image inclusion through the normal methods…good thing i know HTML…)

I just got an awesome new phone (more about that later). With it, i took these pictures. First is the view from our seats, second is the view up the row of our seats.


Section 304, last row, seats 24, 25.

We are in the cheering section for the Preds (Cell Block 303) and the seats are great. You can see all the action and all the plays develop. Being on the back row has two major advantages too: 1) i can stand through the whole game if i want to (stiff back, exciting game, etc) 2) there is a concrete shelf behind us where we can put our coats, programs, etc. They are also cheap. Just $12 a game as season ticket holders (just a 13-game pack, not all 41 home games). Last best thing – they are on the aisle. Really quick to get up and down during the game if needed, and no one walking past us, etc…and we get to stretch our legs out.

Seriously, if anyone is considering getting season ticket seats to anything, back row, on the aisle is the only way to fly.

game notes

In Basketball, Hockey, Sports on November 23, 2006 at 11:47 am

A few random sports thoughts and notes on this Thanksgiving, the best of all American sports holidays.

1) I understand where the NBA is coming from with their new “low tolerance” policy on arguing with the refs. The referees had gotten so bad, and the players so whiny, that every single call (or no-call) was followed by 15-30 seconds of a player filling the refs ear. I can’t imagine that was very much fun for the refs, and it certainly didn’t enhance my enjoyment of the game. I think it also exacerbated foul trading. If a call was missed, the players would make sure to point it out, and the refs would whistle a “make-up call” within a few minutes. This of course perpetuated the problem. Then the league decided to put in a new rule that owners weren’t allowed to complain to the refs from the sidelines either. The new policies, combined with what must be more scrutiny of the refs by the league, has meant less whining, and more basketball.

Here’s the problem though. The refs still aren’t perfect (shock!). In this great democracy of the USA, the players and fans (and owners) are used to being able to voice our grievances. It is the players right to collect $20,000 per night and complain about the injustice that is before him. Honestly, it really is. The players need a forum for bringing real issues up with the refs. There are legitimate times when a ref may not see something that another player is doing, and it needs to be pointed out (“Watch next time down, he’s grabbing my jersey when I setup in the post”). Right now, the players are going to be afraid to do that.

I think the NBA needs to adopt a more NHL-like method of captaincy where one person (could be a player, could be an assistant coach, could be the ball-boy) has the right to calmly go up to the ref to talk something over. Right now this is turning into something of a dictatorship, which isn’t fun for anybody, and just frustrates fans and players alike.

2) I found a cool site that does computer-based power rankings of teams in all major professional sports leagues (including NCAA football, my least favorite of the pro leagues). I like the fact that it simply uses win/loss records. No point differentials or other stats that discourage sportsmanship. Just pure numbers. It basically ranks all the teams and how they perform home vs. away, against top opponents vs. bottom, last 10 games, etc. Then uses formulas to rank everyone. I especially like it right now because it has the Predators 4th, ahead of teams with better records, and has the Spurs second only to the Jazz. I also love that they have Oregon State (6-4) and Arizona (5-5) in the top 25. I don’t really care myself, but i know that’s got to be driving some people nuts, and for me, the more chaos there is in college football rankings, the closer we are to a much needed playoff system.

3) While i’m on the topic of Spurs vs. Jazz…
I love that the Jazz are doing so well this year. I honestly hope they keep it up. Why? Because i hate them. I grew up hating them. Jerry Sloan and the combo of Malone, Stockton, and Hornacek were dirty and got away with murder and weren’t nice and…yeah. I hated them. Everyone in San Antonio did. So i am thrilled to see them doing well again, hoping that the rivalry is brought back, even if they aren’t in our divisional anymore.

4) Lastly, GooTube has made a deal with the NHL to carry games online for free. The whole game, online, free to watch. Wow. Just wow. The NBA has had games up for a bit, but they charge money for them. These are totally free. I’ve read different articles saying that the games are supposed to only be online and free for 24 hours and such, but right now there are 10 Predators games up and free to watch in their entirety. They also have some classic old games, like the 1989 or 1967 Stanley Cup Finals. Old School. Best of all – they ENCOURAGE users to make their own “fan clips” to be featured online. That is so cool.


I know this was a kinda whiny post for Thanksgiving, so here’s what i’m thankful for: 1) A place where i can whine and think someone cares about it. 2) Spell check. Never could have used the word exacerbate without it :-)

all-star actions

In Hockey, Sports on November 16, 2006 at 9:39 pm

Just a quick note:
Everyone go vote for your favorite players (hint: they are all Nashville Predators) for the NHL All-Star game. It looks like the NHL is returning to the “East vs. West” format, as opposed to the strange but creative “North America vs. The World” format it used for a while. (I never understood…is North America not part of the world?)

The 3 Predators that are pre-defined on the ballot are Steve Sullivan (forward), Paul Kariya (forward), and Thomas Vokoun (goalie). You can also write in one other Predator of your choice. I chose Jason Arnott, though captian Kimmo Timmonen has been an all-star in the past too.

And as usual with major league sports all-star balloting…

Vote Early!
Vote Often!

do i matter?

In Basketball, Hockey, Me, Sports on November 11, 2006 at 3:21 pm

Last night when Christy and i went to the movie, it meant not watching or listening to a Predators game for the 2nd time this year. The last time i didn’t watch/listen was when we went to the opera, which i think was the last time the Preds lost in regulation.

Over the years i have grown up in a family that taught me that whether i watched a game (or attended) DID impact the result of the game. I have a cousin an aunt who are forbidden from going to Spurs games together because every time they do, the Spurs loose at home, which is rare.

However, for last night i had finally convinced myself that it really didn’t matter. Even though it was the first game of the year against Detroit, i decided i could go enjoy myself at the movie, and find out who won or lost the game later.

Don’t worry. I wont let it happen again.
My dad and i are going to the game tonight. In person.

Update: Predators won the game 1-0 against Colorado. Mason was amazing in goal.
Update 2: I will be watching the game on Wed night on the Center-Ice package at Batter’d-and-Fried.

better fines

In Hockey, Sports on November 7, 2006 at 8:31 am

MagooSo i just read an interesting article from the Sporting News about two NHL coaches being fined by the league for criticizing refs. A few things surprised me, especially as compared to the way certain other leagues handle this sort of thing.

First, was the size of the fines. Each coach was fined $10,000. No small sum, but much less than the NBA tends to fine its coaches or owners who criticize officials. And in these cases, it was in a more severe way than the NBA will fine people for.

One NHL coach complained to the media about the refs. Craig MacTavish, coach for the Oilers complained about ref Mick McGeough (frequently pronounced “Magoo” by fans that hate him – he’s the closest thing the NHL has to Joey Crawford).

“I know he is a veteran official and at times I have found his antics humorous, but if this is the product of that, there is a problem,” MacTavish said after the game. “It was a ridiculous call.” He also called for McGeough to be suspended.

Dr. EvilMeanwhile, the NBA just fined Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver $25,000 for complaining to the refs directly from court-side during a game. In other words, doing what every fan around him was probably doing. This was the first fine levied under a new anti-Mark Cuban rule that David Stern and his evil minions have recently implemented. (If you haven’t yet read this article about Cuban’s seeing the light – you need to read it).

Here’s the part of the article that really blew me away…

McGeough acknowledged he blew the call, saying, “My judgment was poor on the play.”

What? Say it isn’t so! In David Stern’s world any league that allows its refs to admit anything but perfection should immediately fail – if not cause the implosion of the Earth itself. NBA refs don’t usually even get to talk to the press, much less honestly admit their humanity.

Props to McGeough for being willing to say he screwed up.
Now i may heckle him a little less the next time he comes to town.

good/rough night for Kariya

In Hockey, Me, Sports on October 27, 2006 at 11:35 am

So i was at the Preds game last night for a great win over San Jose.
I was going to just talk about a few elements, but then i hit the Preds site and they had some great pictures of everything

First, Radulov scored his first goal..

and delivered what i think was his first big hit…

Poor Paul Kariya had a rough game though.
First he got decked while scoring a goal…

Then he got cross-checked by Thorton after the play was dead…

Then he got decked by a hard cross-check right into the boards and Toskala at the end of the game by McLaren…


In related news, I just found out that Paul McCann, the official PA announcer for Predators home games, well known hockey blogger, and commentator on WNSR 560 – actually has a day job working with me! Well, not exactly with me, but in the building. He works in consumer sales, I work in higher education sales, but hey – i saw him in the cafeteria. I’ll have to go up and talk with him sometime.

blogging video frustrations

In Hockey, Sports, Videos on October 21, 2006 at 10:04 am

So a while back i posted the night of blogging and hockey.
In that post, i wrote a funny paragraph about Hordichuck getting in a fight. I said that when they started fighting, they didn’t just throw their gloves down, rather it looked like someone had set off a grenade in an equipment locker. Gloves and sticks when flying in every direction. The fight itself was pretty poor, but the start looked really funny. Later i actually found video of that fight online and added it to the post.

Today i just realized that the video was still there but the paragraph describing it is gone. Just poof. No idea how that happened.

Anyway…i just took it out of the original post and am going to put it back in here on its own. Enjoy.

night of blogging and hockey 2

In East Nashville, Hockey, Nashville, Sports on October 19, 2006 at 7:49 pm

7:25pm
So this is my third time sitting in Beyond the Edge to watch a Predators game.
Every game so far, the place has been relatively empty. Well not empty exactly, but not a lot of activity.

Tonight is very different. I am guessing its a Thirsty Thursday thing or something.
Lots of people coming in and out – even though the weather outside is nasty.
Just interesting to me. Even the poker tournament night they had last night didn’t have this much by far.

(Later confirmed – yes, they are doing 2-for-1)


7:40pm
Steve Sullivan is out of the game tonight with back spasms. Josef Vasiceck was already out with …something, and Darcy Hordichuk is out with separated cartilage on his ribs. So our “problem” of having too many good forwards on contracts to be able to bring in rookie sensation Alexander Radulov seems to have been solved. Too bad he couldn’t be brought up fast enough though. We only have 19 skaters dressed tonight. It’s forcing Trotz to run some interesting lines. I always love it when he does this.

Earlier he sent out the line of Karyia, Arnott, and Tootoo. I love those sorts of lines. To me, they are the best balance of skill, speed, strength, offense, defense, etc. They already scored once. Trotz even played these kinds of lines last year in the playoffs. I understand that there is a reason to have the lines as the usually are, but its nice to see these lines too. They are just so dang entertaining.


7:50pm
So Nashville is playing New Jersey tonight. You’d expect that to mean Vokoun vs. Brodeur. Well, not tonight. Trotz is still rotating Mason and Vokoun to help them both get in a rhythm and Broduer had played every game so far this year until tonight. So we have Mason vs. Clemmensen.

Of course to this point, Chris Mason is having a great game in goal. Only allowed one and it was a cross-ice back door deflection on the penalty kill. So i don’t blame him too much for that.

Brodeur not playing also solved a real dilemma for me. You see, i am a huge Predators fan and have 3 Preds on my fantasy team. But Brodeur is my main fantasy goalie. It was going to be hard for both my skaters and my goalie to do well tonight. Not to mention, i didn’t want Brodeur to get the win. I purposely got all three goalies from the eastern conference to avoid just this sort of problem. So with Brodeur not playing, things are much better :-)

I have to say, Clemmensen has pretty cool pads. At least from a distance on TV, they look all brown – so they look leather. Very old-school. If that isn’t what they are, it should be. (Note added: you can see in the picture at the end of this post that he has black pads, not brown, but they do still look cool)

That is definitely what I would want – have modern gear, but make it look like the really old-school pads from the 60′s or 70′s. Speaking of which, I don’t even remember how I found it the other day, but I found a site that has a whole bunch of vintage goalie masks. It is scary what those guys wore (or didn’t wear) back in the day. Of course everyone knows the “Jason” style masks from the horror movies, but some of these are even more open and less protective than that. Amazing they weren’t killed on every slapshot.



7:59pm
So the Preds just scored off a face-off. Shorthanded.
It was a faceoff in the Devil’s end, Preds won the faceoff and Suter just took a one-timer. Went right through the crowd and through the 5-hole. All 3 of our points (and NJ’s 1 goal too) have come on special teams. Given how much the refs are blowing the whistles tonight, should make for an interesting game.


8:02pm
And now someone from Lightning 100 just came in with posters and a few boxes of CDs. This place is loud and busy enough with two-for-one night. Most important, she’s setting up on the stage between me and the TV with the game on. She had better not block it with a poster, that’s all I’m saying. Of course, if I get a free CD or something and still get to watch the game, so much the better :-)


8:10pm
Ok, they are doing a music trivia night. That is somewhat fun. I’ll give them that.

8:29pm
I knew about half the 10 trivia questions in round one. Relatively easy stuff like “which of these bands is not in the R&R Hall of Fame? Led Zepplin, Journey, The Sex Pistols” and “Who wrote the Bangles hit ‘Manic Monday’?”

But many of them were about modern artists they play on Lightning 100 and I had never heard of them, much less know who so and so is the lead singer for, or who’s new album is named whatever…but of course they are here to promote their station and music, so that’s fine. Kinda fun concept really. Of course, those who know me know that i love trivia, especially about music, so even if i cant win, its fun to see this kinda thing.


9:40pm
Back at home.
Preds won in the shootout (gave up 2 quick goals late in the 3rd).
That makes it a clean sweep on the road trip.

–out

turn around

In Hockey, Sports on October 19, 2006 at 7:07 am

So the Predators start 0-3, and give up 17 goals in their first three games.
The next three games we go 3-0 and give up only 2 goals.
Think Trotz has been working defense in practice a little?

I just hope we can keep up the defense, then have the new offensive firepower start to gel.
That happens, and we get scary good.

mustard hockey

In Hockey, Sports on October 15, 2006 at 7:35 pm

So, after the Predators opened their season last year with 8 straight wins, and an improved roster this year, expectations were high. At least mine were. I didn’t think we’d win 8 out of the gate, but i was hoping for at least a 6-2 start or something. Things didn’t work out that way though. We started with 3 straight losses. The first two were bad. Didn’t play well, etc. Third one we played better, but still came up short.

Anyway, on Friday the Tennessean did a story on some of the superstitions and routines that the Preds players and coaches have. Funny stuff like Scott Nichol’s pre-game PB&J, etc. My friend Anna (i did her website BTW) is singing the national anthem before the game on Dec 14th. They told her that if the Preds win that night, she is likely to be asked back. If they loose, she is likely to not return – has nothing to do with her singing.

Well, anyway – after the 0-3 start, you knew coach Trotz would start shaking some things up. Not only did he start messing with the lines, but out came the much maligned “3rd jersey”. The mustard-colored sweaters that look more like a practice jersey than anything official. Fewer markings, fewer colors – just a lot of yellow-ish mustard color. I don’t mind them that much really, but some of the players are reported to hate them, and most fans like to wear them in the stands, but prefer the players refrain from wearing them on the ice.

Well, i would be willing to bet we see a lot more of them soon. After going 9-4 last year in the mustard, and getting our first win of the season with them this year, i am sure we’ll see them a lot more.

How much more we’ll see them is an interesting question. There is actually a schedule of when they are supposed to wear the jerseys (Sat’s game was already on the sched), but i wouldn’t doubt it if we start wearing them as our full-time home colors.

FYI: They are already scheduled to wear them for the game Anna is singing for.

Update: The Predators finished the season 11-1-2 while wearing the "3rd Jersey", including a 6-0 win in the game Anna sang at.

night of blogging and hockey

In Hockey, Nashville, Sports on October 12, 2006 at 8:36 pm

So tonight i hung around and watched hockey at a bar, and blogged…
Here is the result:



8:09pm
So, i have discovered that an interesting side effect of having a blog: i am constantly thinking of things to blog during the day – especially while in the car. Of course, now that i can actually write it, i can’t remember most of what i was going to say.

I was originally hoping to watch the game at Batter’d n Fried. Alas, they have a baseball playoff game on there, and Matt (the owner) directed me “up stairs” (actually up a hill and across a parking lot) to Beyond the Edge. He owns both places and is trying to make BTE a place known for having the Preds games on. Don’t get me wrong, I love the concept – except that Batter’d n Fried is smoke-free. BTE is not. It’s not horrible. Certainly not as bad as the Box Seat or other sports bars i’ve been in, but it’s there none-the-less. Oh – and BNF is a good, casual restaurant. Quiet-ish. BTE is has a loud-ish crowd here mostly for beer (duh) and worse: a juke box blaring really loud (usually really bad) music. Just not conducive to watching, thinking, and typing. But they didn’t ask me.



8:15pm
End of the first period. Preds down 0-1. doh.
I’m going to use the intermission to start writing a big blog entry about what’s wrong with Major League Baseball. Yes i am writing in my blog that i am going to start writing a future blog entry. Maybe i’m taking this blog thing too far…



8:22pm
Fox Sports just showed a really cool looking feature with Jordan Tootoo and Scottie Upshall doing a community outreach deal where they played street hockey with a bunch of kids and signed autographs and stuff. Looked really cool. They also talked a lot. Too bad I didn’t hear a word of it! No close caption, and no way i could hear it over the deafening, bad nu-metal. Oh well.



8:54pm
So after much writing, this baseball story is apparently turning into that: a story. Its already way too long for a blog entry. I may need to create a section for “essays” or something.

Back to the topic of my venue for the evening. I moved from a seat at a bar-type thing (standing table in the middle of the restaurant) to a nice cushy high-backed chair on a stage-like thing they have here. Its just up a few inches, so its not like i really am on stage. But it’s right in front of a plasma, and is a lot easier on my back than the bar stool was. This i can live with. Even if i will smell like an ashtray and be deaf when i get home.



9:00pm
I’ll say this much. The Preds are still down 0-1, but we are playing way better hockey than those first two games. We are on the attack, but not giving up odd man rushes. We are making Chicago work for every shot. The defensmen are playing smart and the forwards are not out of position. By all rights we should be up at least 2-1 anyway. We’ve pinged the post no fewer than 3 times that i’ve noticed and the 2nd period isn’t even over yet. Mason has been playing lights-out too. I don’t think Vokoun has lost his mojo, he’s still our #1 goalie, but it’s good to know Mason is at least as good and gives us a solid 2nd backstop when we need it. And heck, i’ll say it: if it turns out Vokoun did loose his stuff, it is nice to have a good option for #1.



9:29pm
Finally, the predators scored!
About 5 min into the 3rd, its 1-1.
Bad part…the bar hasn’t been this quiet all night long. No kidding. The juke box just quit about the time the puck went in, and its creepy quiet in here. Noone reacted to the goal except myself (a slight double-fist pump and “yes” under my breath). I looked around and didn’t see any other reactions. Sad.


10:53pm
So that’s it. Pred’s lost 3-1 (take away the empty-netter and it was 2-1). A well played game, but still a loss. Not a great start this year.

And with that…my longest blog entry to date (hopefully ever?) comes to an end.