The Nashville Predators’ penchant for developing good young defensemen continues with word that Roman Josi, their 2nd-round pick in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, has been selected for the Swiss national team. This from SwissHockey.net:
The 18-year old, who plays his club hockey for SC Bern, was named the best defender at the recent Under-20 Division I World Championships (whose Web site, for whatever reason, was never translated into English and does not appear to have been updated much in German either). Hockeysfuture.com has Josi as the 11th-best prospect in the Preds system and fifth-best defenseman. This season, he has 22 points (seven goals) in 35 National League A games for SCB and one goal and three assists in four Champions Hockey League games.
It will be interesting to watch Josi’s progress this spring, and see if he comes over to play for Nashville’s AHL affiliate in Milwaukee next fall.
Former Nashville Predators and current Minnesota Wild owner Craig Leipold is certainly living the high life these days. This profile comes from CityPages.com:
...when Leipold isn’t behind the 12 x 5 slab of Berlin Wall artifact (really) that graces the entrance to his Wisconsin estate, he’s instead housed atop the historic brick makeup of the Saint Paul Hotel. Last year, Leipold signed a 10-year, exclusive lease to reside in the 2,400-square foot penthouse of the perennial 4-Diamond destination.
There’s even a video tour of this swanky penthouse, for any of you who might be wondering how hard the current recession is hitting the NHL’s ownership ranks…
Much has been made of yesterday’s article in the Tennessean which noted that the Predators ownership group is considering purchasing tickets in order to help the team achieve goals which are required for 100% participation in the NHL’s revenue sharing program. Today in a blog on the paper’s site, Preds beat writer John Glennon adds some clarification and perspective for those crying out that this has become “a farce”:
...when he [David Freeman] said the owners would consider buying up seats to reach the 14,000 paid attendance mark – the mark necessary to receive the NHL’s full revenue-sharing package – he probably should have included a much larger IF NECESSARY after his comments.
Frankly, it doesn’t look like it will have to come to that.
The Predators are averaging 13,744 paid fans per game right now, which is actually about a six percent increase over this point last season. They’ve got their best drawing months of the season ahead of them, they’ve got two home games against Detroit in February, and they’ve got a host of promotions during the month that should bring more fans into the building.
The “big story” here should be that attendance has risen significantly in Nashville despite the economic situation and a team that is sputtering of late. They’ve added new corporate sponsorships in the last few months and appear likely to hit the targets required for revenue sharing. Good News, unfortunately, just doesn’t make a catchy headline like the negative stuff. On a related note, as observed by Chuq over at Two for Elbowing, team owners purchasing their own tickets is a common sight in the NFL.
CBC Sports takes a look at two of the best young defensemen in the NHL, who just happen to be paired up on the Nashville Predators blue line:
One is being touted as a Norris Trophy candidate, the other as a possible future team captain.
Where would the struggling Nashville Predators be this season without Shea Weber and Ryan Suter?
Read on for the whole piece, which gives Suter some much-needed attention as his game has taken just as big a step forward this season as Weber’s has. Thanks to @DonaldWillis of the @PredFans Twitter group for tipping me off to this article!
American collegiate hockey has had a long history of producing the occasional NHL talent, reaching back to the days of Red Berenson, but in recent years it has developed into a premier training ground for top-level prospects preparing to take their game to the highest level. Dave O’Onofrio of the Concord Monitor brings us a profile of Colin Wilson (7th overall 2008 pick by Nashville) and James van Riemsdyk (2nd overall 2007 pick by Philadelphia), two elite talents who are honing their craft on campus:
“It played out great for me, and I think it’s playing out the same way for Riemer,” said Wilson, whose 26 points tie him with vanRiemsdyk for the most among Hockey East players. “We’re both developing now, and I think it shows, not just in our numbers but by the way we play the game. In the new season both of us have gotten better than the previous season.”
“That Riemer, especially, is back in college this year is a real tribute to UNH. It’s a tribute to college hockey,” [USA Hockey assistant executive director Jim] Johannson added. “And it’s a tribute to his belief that ‘I’m going to become a better player here, and I’m going to be more ready to play in the National Hockey League whenever I decide to do that.’ “
I’m sure this story will get the Nashville haters howling! The Tennessean this morning reports that the local ownership group is considering putting their own money to work to purchase enough tickets to make sure the Predators reach the NHL’s revenue sharing targets:
David Freeman stressed that he and the other owners haven’t made that decision, but with millions of dollars on the line, they’ve been discussing the possibility and they can’t wait too long to pull the trigger.
“We’ve consistently said that we’re here to give everything we’ve got to make this work,” Freeman said.
The first point to address here is that it this is allowed within NHL guidelines, as the owners are talking about using their own personal funds to hit the magic mark of 14,000 average paid attendance (the figure normally reported for NHL attendance includes giveaways and doesn’t impact revenue sharing). While many are sure to focus on this as a gimmick that only delays the demise of the NHL in Middle Tennessee, there is an unexpected bit of good news in here that is likely to get overlooked…
Earlier this month, the most overlooked aspect of the thrilling comeback 5-3 win over Pittsburgh was how Barry Trotz pulled Dan Ellis once the Preds were down 3-0; the explanation from the coach was that he was simply trying to “change the luck” of the game, and that the move wasn’t a reflection on Ellis’ play. The same phrasing was used again relative to Saturday night’s debacle against Atlanta, and Trotz once again verbally backed up his #1’s work.
“I felt bad for Dan,” coach Barry Trotz said Saturday night. “I can’t fault Dan that we gave up three goals in four shots. I was just trying to change the momentum again.”
So why, then, is Pekka Rinne getting the start tonight against New Jersey, the last game prior to the All-Star break? Fatigue certainly can’t be an issue, so the only conclusion to be drawn is that Trotz thinks that Rinne gives the team a better shot at winning tonight. That can’t be good news for Ellis.
It was probably for the best that upon coming home from Saturday’s awful 7-2 loss to Atlanta, I found my internet connection down. That prevented my posting one of those “fire ‘em all” type of posts that would have felt good to get out of my system, but would hardly have been productive. Given the ideal stage to make a statement to the city of Nashville (huge crowd, crappy opponent, and the Tennessean‘s sports columnist making his first trip to a game this year), the Preds came out and tripped over their own feet, bloodied their nose and stumbled weakly back to the dressing room to a chorus of boos. At least, to some extent, it was entertaining, if tragic comedy is your thing.
With that in mind, I want to introduce a weekly feature here called, “Preds Question of the Week”, in which I want to get your opinion on a particular topic.
So I ask you this morning… “What’s the Next Step?”
From John Glennon we have a frightening update prior to tonight’s Predators/Canadiens tilt in Montreal:
An offensively challenged Nashville team will be without its two top goal-scorers tonight, as center Jason Arnott (lower body) and defenseman Shea Weber (foot) will miss the contest against the Canadiens.
Preds coach Barry Trotz is hopeful Weber will be back for Saturday’s game against Atlanta, but is calling Arnott questionable for that contest.
New call-up Alexander Sulzer will get his first NHL action, and should see plenty of time, since other defenders are banged up or ill as well.
From the Nashville Predators:
Nashville, Tenn. (January 14, 2009) – Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced today that the club has recalled defenseman Alexander Sulzer from the Milwaukee Admirals of the American Hockey League. To make room on the 23-man roster for him, defenseman Greg de Vries was placed on the injured reserve list retroactive to Jan. 6.
Sulzer, 24 (5/30/84), ranks third among AHL defensemen in both points (29) and assists (22). He is also third on the Admirals in both categories, in addition to being second on the club in power-play goals (4).
Sulzer, who recently signed a two-year contract extension, has enjoyed a fine year at the AHL level and has yet to play in the NHL.