Greetings, THW readers! I’m pleased to be joining the slate of contributors here, bringing you insightful and (hopefully) funny takes on one of the NHL’s whipping boys — my boys — the Nashville Predators. There’s more about me at the bottom of this post, but here’s what I most look forward to this year:
- Jerred Smithson’s pre-pubescent Movember ‘stache. I probably shouldn’t laugh, because mine doesn’t look much better, and Smithers is just a spot older than I am, but I always get a good chuckle out of this.
- Another playoff round victory. That’s right — despite perennial naysaying of hockey bloggers and reporters the continent over, I’m counting on the Preds returning to the playoffs. More than that, I’m counting on them to go at least as deep this coming year as they did last year.
- Contributing to The Hockey Writers, natch. Many thanks to Jas Faulkner for helping me set this up — it’ll be good to have an outlet to focus on hockey!
- Having Lane Lambert behind the bench. Brent Peterson was a great associate coach, and he’ll be missed as he focuses on his battle with Parkinson’s Disease. But Lambert has worked with a number of the Preds’ youngest talent already in Milwaukee — and in David Poile’s infinite wisdom, they’re going with what’s in the cupboard this year…again… I’m also eager to see how, if at all, Lambert changes Nashville’s abysmal power play.
- A breakout year for Jordin Tootoo. The little pesky Eskimo sought treatment last year for substance abuse issues, and was a new man when he returned to action — his end-of-season stats speak for themselves.
- That one post that turns out to be the worst bit of journalism in history that sets Nashville fans ablaze for weeks. Some clown at some outlet will post something really incendiary about the Preds, their owners, the game attendance, the City of Nashville, and/or her citizens at some point during the season — I’ve never really had a platform to rip one of these hit jobs apart, so I’m looking forward to it this year.
- Saturday, October 29. The Anaheim Ducks will make their first trip of the season to Bridgestone Arena on this date. It’ll be great, because Nashville will win — and they’ll do it by diving all over the place…. You know, to put that awesome power play to work for a competitive advantage (see #4). Also, Corey Perry will cry.
- Thursday, October 20. The boys will storm into Rogers Arena for the first trip of the season on this date, and find out how much they’ve learned in the off-season after being ousted from the 2011 Western Conference semifinals by the Vancouver Canucks. Alex Burrows will bite someone, Ryan Kesler will hold someone’s stick at a key moment in a game (and the Canadian media will drool all over him), but the ultimately very boring game will be decided by one goal — probably 1-0.
- The NHL trade deadline. I don’t know whose fault it was, but the whole Shea Weber arbitration fiasco was just horrible for the Preds. David Poile, a perennial favorite for GM of the Year looked like me attempting to play fantasy baseball. He’ll have a real mess on his hands next spring trying to re-sign not only Weber, but Ryan Suter and Pekka Rinne as well. I’m not optimistic that he’ll get everything done without another multi-millionaire partner/owner or two willing to spend on personnel, so expect some fireworks at the trade deadline. If they’re buyers at the deadline, and I think they will be, it’ll be fun to speculate about who goes out and who comes back.
- Watching Shea Weber and the rest of the boys hoisting the Stanley Cup at Bridgestone Arena. A guy can dream, right?
A few quick notes about me, and what to expect from my posts: I grew up in Tennessee, and was not born with skates on my feet. I grew up rooting for the Boston Bruins because my grandfather grew up in Newton, Massachusetts, and I went to high school in New Hampshire and Massachusetts (where I learned to play ice hockey). I can’t say I was ever any good, but I can say I’ve played with some guys who made it to the NHL. I know, I know — that’s like… most of Canada.
When I heard in the late 90s that Nashville was getting an NHL team, I thought — as I’m sure many of you did — that this must be an elaborate joke. But, hey: at least I could see some of my favorite NHLers when they came through town, right? Right. Then when the NHL lockout occurred near the middle of last decade, I thought the team was nuked. But I wanted hockey to stay in my town, so I started buying single-game tickets after the lockout, whenever I could. I attended over half the home games in the 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 seasons, and became a full season ticketholder in the 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 seasons.
I go to practices, rookie camps, and training camps. I listen to talk radio and call into the shows. I read over a dozen hockey blogs every day. Many of my friends have worked in Nashville’s front office. I bleed gold and blue for my Predators, and if I hadn’t moved to DC in 2009 for grad school, I’d still be a season ticketholder at Bridgestone Arena. Thank God for NHL Center Ice! And yes, sadly, when I meet new hockey fan friends in DC, they still say some smarmy, putzy thing like, “Oh, so you’re the Nashville Predators fan.” As in, the only one. Sigh.
My posts will probably vary, focusing on analysis of Preds news, Central Division and Western Conference rivalries, and anything else I might find interesting. I normally blog about politics and public policy at a couple of other sites, and that sucks up a lot of my personal bandwidth — so posts here will probably only be weekly (to start). But I hope you and I have fun here, because the only thing more important to me than politics is ice hockey!