Many preseason predictions put the Nashville Predators out of the playoffs due in part to “franchise instability.” On the ice, however, there may not be a more stable team in the entire NHL, as John Glennon writes in the Tennessean:
Since new ownership took over last December, 10 players — almost half of the current roster — have signed new multiyear contracts with the Predators, with many choosing to forego what likely would have been bigger offers on the free agent market.
The players cite locker-room chemistry, long-term relationships with coaches and management, an affinity for the city and, ironically enough, stability, as some of the reasons for wanting to sticking around.
As the NHL prepares to raise the curtain “for real” here in North America tonight, Predators fans have a number of questions upon which their team’s fortunes will turn in 2008-9. Once again the assembled media pundits are calling for Nashville to miss the playoffs, citing a lack of offensive talent and questions about goaltending. With all that negative press, the Predators should have no trouble building an “us against the world” mentality in the locker room.
So what are the keys to Nashville’s hopes this year?
It was prudent to save Ryan Jones for the end of these forecasts, as the rookie was no sure thing to make the Nashville Predators roster straight out of training camp. With the reassignment of Josh Gratton and today’s demotion of Antti Pihlstrom, Jones has indeed earned a spot at the NHL level for the time being (here’s the Opening Roster). That’s no small achievement in an organization that usually prefers to have young players adapt to professional hockey at the AHL level before skating with the big club.
For Jim Balsillie to obtain the minority position in the Nashville Predators that Boots Del Biaggio bought into, bankruptcy court appears to offer a potential “back door” into NHL ownership, as he could simply outbid other parties for the shares. Since the bankruptcy trustee is bound to obtain top dollar for Del Biaggio’s creditors, this offers a potential legal end-run around the NHL’s process, which kept Balsillie from buying the Predators in 2007. For instance, the Globe & Mail’s Stephen Brunt wrote the following last week:
If Balsillie is indeed interested, he must have similar views [regarding Del Biaggio’s relocation schemes] – minus the Kansas City part – and he understands that by working through the bankruptcy courts he can’t be derailed by NHL politics or the legal butt-covering that prompted Bettman to twice make sure a sale to Balsillie was never consummated.
But it may turn out that this back door is closed, as well. One intrepid Nashville fan has dug up a legal presentation entitled “Sports Franchises and Bankruptcy Law”, which appears to shed some light on this question of whether the Del Biaggio minority position can simply be auctioned off to the highest bidder, regardless of NHL rules.
From the Calgary Flames blog Five Hole Fanatics:
Something I’ve noticed about the Calgary Flames the last few years is they don’t tend to block a lot of shots. I’ve heard it rumored they actually employ this as a strategy: the default setting in the defensive zone is “clear traffic so Kipper can see the shot.”
What follows is a detailed look at shot-blocking trends by team, in an attempt to determine which teams are actually blocking the greatest portion of attempted shots.
Recently I wondered what some of the best hockey podcasts were out there, and I’m pleased to say I’ve found that a welcome, recent addition to the online hockey world in The Rink Podcast, which has just been added to the links found in the sidebar of this blog.
Today, Tom Luongo and James (aka Tapeleg) roll out Episode 2. Besides having Tom & James provide their commentary on the league at large, each episode features an interview with a guest blogger, and today’s guest is Sherry from Scarlett Ice, a prominent Ottawa Senators site.
A quick word from the Nashville Predators practice this morning from the Tennessean’s John Glennon:
The Predators began practice Tuesday morning without forwards Antti Pihlstrom and Josh Gratton, an indication the two players may have been reassigned to Milwaukee of the American Hockey League.
Among players still practicing with the team are prospect forwards Patric Hornqvist and Ryan Jones, as well as offseason signee Joel Ward.
While Jason Arnott and David Legwand get most of the attention among Nashville centermen, Scott Nichol plays just as important a role in the team’s success. As a faceoff and penalty killing specialist, Nichol’s accomplishments are well-known. But his general even-strength play is worth some attention as well.
Since we’ve got a few days between the opening games in Europe and the main Opening Night here in North America, I guess we should thank the Vancouver Canucks and Tampa Bay Lightning for making a trade that can generate some conversation while we wait.
For a deep dive into Michel Oullet’s numbers, and a case for Vancouver possibly landing a gem, head on over to MC79Hockey:
I’ve been impressed with Mike Gillis so far. I know that there was a lot of criticism of his strategy this summer but he struck me as a guy doing the right thing: if the move didn’t make sense, he didn’t make it. It was like the polar opposite of Kevin Lowe’s 2007. If Ouellet ends up in the NHL, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if he ended up putting up decent numbers. At the very least, it should make Kyle Wellwood feel the need to stay in shape.
The Sports Business Journal is reporting that as of August 15th the season ticket renewal rate was just 40% for the Thrashers.