-- Hockey's Future Begins Now --
With the next registration period for the Nashville Predators’ G.O.A.L. program starting tomorrow at 9 am, I thought I would take a moment to explain the program for those who may not be familiar with it, and tell you exactly why you need to register your son or daughter!
G.O.A.L. stands for Get Out And Learn, and this program will teach boys and girls between the ages of 5-8 to skate and play hockey for free! The program is designed for complete beginners with no prior experience, and includes all the equipment and child needs to play.
Let me stop right there and reiterate that. All the gear. Free for the length of the program. You don’t have to spend money on equipment or ice time fearing that your child may abandon the game and leave you holding the bag financially. The Predators provide everything from stick to shin guards. So what have you got to lose? Nothing. Nothing at all. If you’re reading this, chances are good you’re already a hockey fan and your little one might be too. Now you can really bond over hockey!
One other thing I feel is of maximum importance to realize is the quick cycle of improvement that takes place over four weeks. I’ve literally seen kids who couldn’t move without holding onto anything and everything week one scooting around on their own by the program’s end. It’s really something special to watch a youngster take to the game the way I did, or Terry Crisp did, or Stu Grimson… you never know where the game will take you, but getting bitten by the bug is an amazing experience.
PS – NCAA Women’s Hockey scholarships are plentiful!
Space is limited, so for details or to sign up click this link.
From time to time, people will ask me how I got started in this business by way of trying to figure out for themselves how to do exactly that. Honestly, I look back at it now and I'm not really quite sure how I got here exactly – but I do have a few suggestions on how to figure out if you might give it a shot.
First, call a few games. Of anything. I was narrating my friends' bubble hockey games when I was eight. Go to a local game where you know a lot of the players or can get easy access to rosters. Take a recorder with you and then just go for it. Say what comes to mind. Talk about things going on in the game. Try being both color and play by play (because for a long time you'll be doing just that). It can be any sport at any level.
Second, if you decide you want to follow a certain high school team, call the school and ask for help. Talk to the team coach or anyone who might have stats available. Maybe a local minor league team or college team will let you occupy a corner of the bleachers or press box. Don't be a pain in the butt, but ask for help and explain that you're trying to figure out if this is what you want to do with your life. Usually if there's a broadcaster associated with the school or program you can ask them for help as well.
Finally, be confident enough in yourself to actually just go ahead and say what you want to say. Sure, someone may make a joke in your direction, or you might get some ribbing. But if you're going to get better, you've got to practice. You can even do this at home with the sound down on the TV. Maybe even calling a video game (but your friends may get annoyed quickly). Just see what comes out of you and go with it. Don't copy anyone's schtick. Be yourself and let that determine your style.
Well, I hope somehow those words resonate with some aspiring broadcasters out there. At some point we all hang up the headset, and someone has to be waiting in the wings to take over – why not you?
Until next time, keep your stick on the ice.
One thing I always look forward to this time of year is the cooler weather. It means being outside and being able to golf or run or just knock about in relative comfort. And it also means one of the biggest events on the Predators Foundation calendar is on the horizon: Petey’s Preds Party!
If you’re not familiar with the genesis of the event, former Associate Coach Brent Peterson was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and later founded Peterson for Parkinson’s, a non-profit foundation that deals directly with helping to find a cure for the disease. For the past several years Peterson has hosted a dinner party and golf tournament, and more recently has teamed with the Predators Foundation to make it a two-day event. The dinner is now held at Bridgestone Arena and features many well-known names in the local and national communities, and the golf tournament (sold out for this year!) is held at Vanderbilt Legends course the following day.
While golfers may be disappointed to know the tournament has filled, the dinner is always a fun event with silent auction items, entertainment ranging from comedians and musical acts, and a chance to meet the man himself. If you do get a chance to talk to Peterson, just know that he will talk to you at length about anything! Get him going on hockey, or Parkinson’s research, or anything really… as someone who played several years in the NHL and coached for many more, he’s seen quite a bit. Plus he’s always got a joke or six on tap. It’s part of the experience!
Hopefully I’ve piqued your curiosity enough to click here and look at attending the Party on September 16th at Bridgestone Arena. There’s a lot of great food and drink on top of everything else I’ve already mentioned and many folks you’ll recognize if you’re a Preds fan! I hope to see you there as we help out with a great cause!
Nashville strengthened its blueline this week with the singing of Scott Hannan to a one-year deal.
Standing 6-1 and weighing 225 lbs Hannan is a solid, physical defenseman who isn't afraid to mix things up and can eat up ice time when needed as evidenced by his 20:21 TOI with Calgary last season. Hannan has also put up almost 200 points in his career and has shown wonderful durability, playing in more games than any other NHL defenseman over the last 10 seasons with 798 appearances. To pull that off, you not only need to be good enough to be in the starting lineup every night, but also strong enough to handle the mental and physical challenge of it all. That's a nice bonus for a guy who blocked 126 shots last year.
Hannan more than anything provides a very solid veteran presence to compliment Hal Gill, and with youngsters like Ryan Ellis, Roman Josi, Jonathon Blum, Mattias Ekholm etc. all pushing for jobs and maturing at different rates, one more "been there, done that" player to learn from will prove invaluable. It also takes some of the in-game teaching responsibilities and spreads it even a little more. Plus, it removes just a little more pressure from your captain and allows Shea Weber to concentrate on his game too.
So as we look ahead to the upcoming season, once again it appears that defense will be a real strength of this Preds hockey team, giving fans a familiar feel despite a few different faces. And for the Predators to head back to the post-season and do well, they're going to once again have to be among the league's stingiest teams.
Until next time, keep your stick on the ice.
This week the Nashville Predators put to bed one of the biggest single player decisions ever when they matched an offer sheet Shea Weber signed with the Philadelphia Flyers, which means the offer – as-signed – becomes his contract with the Predators for the next 14 years.
For now, it means Nashville retains its captain and defensive cornerstone. Coupled with Pekka Rinne the two form a duo that would evoke envy in almost any other league GM. Looking at where we’re heading and not so much where we’ve been, I still feel pretty good about the team’s direction.
Up front Nashville has retained Colin Wilson, Sergei Kostitsyn and Paul Gaustad. On the blue line Jonathon Blum will now get another go at earning back the spot he lost last season, while players like Ryan Ellis, Roman Josi and even Mattias Ekholm vie for playing time in Nashville alongside Weber, Kevin Klein, and Hal Gill.
I think retaining Gill and Gaustad was telling. Both players played less than half a year here yet saw enough to make them believe there is a great nucleus already in place. Both players were likely courted by other organizations but elected to stay, and that says to me they see a winning culture, a team with a lot of the pieces in place, and a real chance to compete for the Stanley Cup.
With all the focus that’s been on the Weber and Suter situations, I feel that it might be important to point out what the Predators still have and were never in danger of losing. Players like Martin Erat, Mike Fisher and Patric Hornqvist. Emerging talents like Nick Spaling, Matt Halischuk and Gabriel Bourque. This is a team that showed it had the tools to compete before Andrei Kostitsyn or Alex Radulov entered the picture. And when your netminder is a perennial Vezina candidate you have a great base to start from.
I’m not saying the Preds won’t bring in anyone between now and the start of training camp. David Poile isn’t going on vacation for the rest of the summer after wiping the sweat from his brow on this one. There’s always a chance a deal comes into being that makes the Predators better and if it does, the trigger will be pulled. Plus there’s always the “Shane Doan factor” floating out there. Will he or won’t he stay with the Coyotes? Who knows at this point, but I think he’d look pretty good sporting Predators Gold come September.
It’s going to be a little while until the Preds get back on the ice, but after the way last year’s iteration came along (and some would say much quicker than predicted) it will be very interesting to see how this year’s team gets out of the gates. Until then we can look forward to the team’s open house on August 4 and sit content knowing our captain is back!
Well now, doesn’t that just make things interesting?
Shea Weber has signed an offer sheet with the Philadelphia Flyers for 14 years and in the neighborhood of $110M depending on varying reports. Breaking down a detailed process into simplified terms, Nashville has one week to match the offer. If the Predators match the sheet, the offer kicks in as his contract here in Nashville.
If you’re Nashville, you definitely want #6 back in gold. He’s your captain, and the player you’ve hung the franchise’s ten-gallon hat on along with Pekka Rinne. The Predators have steadfastly said all along that they will match any offer sheet for Weber, and there is certainly no worry about cap room for the team.
To look at things one way, this does cut out some uncertainty. There is now an offer for a contract that is concrete in terms of years and cash. It would also go a long way for the Predators to know that both Weber and Rinne are your cornerstone players for the next seven years without hesitation, and that’s a pair of players I think any franchise would want to build around.
From the Flyers side, this is a last-ditch effort to get a player you really want. If you thought you could have worked out a trade for Weber, then you don't float this out there. If you realize that the trade option wasn't available and that Weber was likely to sign a long-term contract this summer, then the last option to get the player is the offer sheet option, especially if Philadelphia believes Weber is the guy that makes them a Cup contender every year. Weber is among the top three defensemen in the game, bar none. And if the offer is matched by the Predators there are no repercussions for the Flyers, they simply don’t get the player in the end.
Keep in mind that the NHL does not allow sign-and-trade type of deals under the CBA (like the NBA for example), so whichever way the ends --- with Nashville matching or with Philadelphia winning the bid --- Weber cannot be traded ANYWHERE for a year because of the offer sheet.
As an aside, this also seems to signal that Chris Pronger’s playing days are done (at least with the Flyers) as there would be a real need to place him and his contract on long term IR. Philadelphia currently has just over $28M committed to eight defensemen (without Weber in the mix) and Pronger’s $4.92M cap hit would have to go somewhere. Say what you want about Pronger but it would be sad to see another career end due to concussion issues.
At the end of the day, this isn’t something that will be decided today by noon. There are a lot of moving parts in place, and Nashville’s hockey operations will definitely need to review every single part of the offer sheet and its impact. Again, the team has always maintained its intention to match any offer, but like any lengthy, detailed contract, the documents will take time to review.
I haven’t written a lot lately but I felt perhaps I should collect a few thoughts based on recent events and share them. It’s been hard, even with the July 1 free agent frenzy, to really think hockey. But for some reason today as I was reading about Rick Nash and his approved list of teams, something clicked. Cold air, the whirring of a Zamboni, the distant smacking of pucks against a dasher… for some reason that soundtrack kicked in. And I missed it just enough to start writing.
Speaking of Nash, let’s look at this first. Nash is one of two (Anaheim’s Bobby Ryan being the other) big-name scoring wingers out there on the trade block. Alex Semin is a free agent right now, and while teams wouldn’t have to give up anything but money to get him, perhaps his reputation is forestalling a deal. First and foremost we are talking about a guy (Nash) who has shown he can be among the league’s elite players, although his past two seasons haven’t been quite as good as what he put up pre-contract.
Some say Nash has hit a comfort zone and realizes even his absolute best isn’t enough to transform the team around him. Others believe he does need an All-Star caliber player on his line to be effective. But with the league’s fifth-highest cap hit next season ($7.8M) and a lot of uncertainty heading into this September’s labor deadline, I can understand why a GM would want to exercise patience and reserve. Ryan’s cap hit is a more palatable $5.1M for the next three years, and he’s only 25 years old with three straight 30-goal seasons under his wing.
Plus consider the only six teams approved for Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson to deal him to are Detroit, NYR, Boston, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and San Jose and now you know those teams are going to low-ball because there are so few options. Sure Nash can be a game changing player, but between his salary obligations and questions of is his production really going down and can he be the type of player that can win in the playoffs following him, it might be a little while before a deal gets done. Howson has said he won’t make a hasty deal and is even ok with Nash starting the season on the roster. But then that might lead to a real souring of things in the dressing room, and who knows what that might force for a solution.
I feel that teams might be more willing to acquire Ryan first, and of course for 24 other teams that’s the only option they have. For the six named by Nash, the problem seems to be that what they’d have to part with would be far too steep in terms of taking apart a solid contending core. That’s the other side of the coin here: are teams willing to pay the asking price? Sure you could be getting a player to put you over the top, but if you have to fleece other key parts of your lineup to do it, you might not be so eager. I think the season opens with Nash still in Columbus unless Howson comes off his asking price.
The elephant in the room this summer for Nashville was and is the Ryan Suter movement. I’m not throwing out the baby with the bathwater on this one. Yes, Suter is an exceptional defenseman who will be missed. Minnesota doled out two major contracts and will expect major returns. But Nashville has built itself around a solid team concept, one that means no one player is bigger than the team and life will go on. Sure it’ll be hard to see Shea Weber alongside someone else this season, but perhaps we will see a silver lining coming out of all of this. It might be Roman Josi or Jonathon Blum or Ryan Ellis. Or it might be someone not yet a member of the organization. It might be a different outlook entirely for leadership since the Predators will now need a new “A” for this season. Whatever does come out of it, the Predators will survive. The sun keeps coming up and come September, a few players will have a major chance to step up and audition for pivotal roles.
I mentioned Alex Semin earlier, and I think his odds of staying in North America this year are 50/50 at this point. While Semin has sometimes been regarded as a player who doesn’t go 100% every shift, he is also a phenomenal talent who can produce goals from scratch and lift a team to victory. The question if you’re Nashville would be simply one of buy-in. Would he come around, adopt the system and be a good teammate? If yes, then maybe you take the risk. If not, you’re better off passing up on this particular player.
Finally, I expect all eyes will be on Shea Weber now and for a while, waiting to see exactly what he does as far as long-term possibilities. If he does sign a deal with the Preds it will go great lengths towards cementing exactly where this team is going, and who will lead it there.
Until next time, keep your stick on the ice.
Yip was a waiver wire grab for the Predators and has fit in well in Nashville. He is a big body who can play physical yet had also shown when playing regularly for the Colorado Avalanche that he can put the puck in the net. As the season moved towards a close for Nashville Yip found he was in the lineup more and more, playing key situations for the team (penalty kill, extra attacker). Looking ahead I can see him earning more playing time and more trust from the coaching staff in all kinds of situations. He’s turned out to be a great acquisition.
Mueller is another player who was a find for the organization, after being signed to a two-way ECHL/AHL contract with Milwaukee for 2009-10 and later that season was signed by the Predators when the team needed to recall a center. Last year he led Milwaukee in scoring and goals, finishing fifth overall in the AHL with 32 markers (his 8 GWGs was tied-second in the league) and even appeared in the AHL All-Star Game. Mueller provides Nashville with great depth at center --- plus he has the flexibility to play shifts on the wing as well --- and is a player who may, at 26, turn out to be a late-bloomer. With 19 NHL games under his belt the Predators certainly have no qualms turning to him if needed during the year. Don’t be surprised if Mueller makes a serious push this season in training camp for a spot with the big club.
It will be an interesting weekend in Smashville as the 2012 Draft kicks off in Pittsburgh, so make sure you keep your browser pointed right here for the latest updates!
Until next time, keep your stick on the ice.
So as the Nashville Predators head into this week’s NHL Entry Draft, it marks one of a handful of times but second year in a row the Preds enter the fray without a first round pick. Much like last year, they now have a pair of second round selections after dealing Anders Lindback and Kyle Wilson to Tampa Bay (along with a 7th round draft choice this year). The Preds also scored a third rounder next season in return for the aforementioned players.
As far as Nashville goes, it means a few things heading into the draft weekend:
- Lindback will get a chance to show he can be a starting goaltender at the NHL level with the Lightning. It’s no secret that he’s young with a lot of upside and wasn’t going to get much playing time behind Pekka Rinne, so why risk losing him eventually when you can gain needed assets back for him? To get the return Nashville did this year is a pretty good one heading into the draft. Personally, Lindy is a good guy and I hope he shines with the Bolts. I’ll miss him bopping to reggae in the locker room after morning skates.
- Another nice thing for Nashville is that it gives the team more contract flexibility without Kyle Wilson’s one-way contract for 2012-13. While Wilson certainly has shown he can be an excellent AHL player, he was due to make NHL-only money this year regardless of where he ended up. Nashville has a plethora of young talent at forward, much of which has started to make its case for roster spots (witness Gabriel Bourque as exhibit A) so clearing a little room both cap-wise and roster-wise helps. And while I know you can currently “bury” a contract in the minors to get it off the cap, there’s no guarantee that will exist in the new CBA – and in fact I’m betting it won’t.
- Netting a pair of second round picks takes a lot of the pressure off not having a first rounder this year, but that’s not to say Nashville still might not be able to make a deal here or there and get something in the first round. Having those extra picks (the Preds now have 9 picks in this year's draft, including multiple selections in the 2nd, 4th, and 6th rounds -- something against odd numbered rounds maybe?) gives the Preds some flexibility to move up if needed. But you must decide how badly you want the return of a first round draft choice -- is the player at say the No. 25, 26, 27 slot more important to your team than the players you can get at the picks you trade away to move up in the draft? That's a question the scouts will be mulling over this week. Either way, it will be interesting to see how the draft unfolds.
I hope to see everyone at our NHL Awards party tomorrow night at the Patron Platinum Club, and enjoy the draft this weekend!
And so it appears what has been one of the most drawn-out sagas in recent hockey memory is closing a chapter. Alexander Radulov and the Nashville Predators are to part ways according to General Manager David Poile.
Radulov always represented the carrot that could lead Nashville to great heights. The player who, at the peak of his game, can be a difference-maker. And in a way was a bit of the “prodigal son” parable. But things didn’t shake out the way Nashville would have liked, and so the decision has come down to part ways.
What it realistically means for the Preds is that whatever money it would have taken to bring Radulov back into the fold and sign him to a term that would keep him happy and in North America can now be aimed at both Preds players needing to be re-signed and potential free agents as well. Indeed it might also help the Predators, which is without a first round draft pick this year, recoup that and more.
At the end of it all, it’s a good thing that the Predators were able to make this decision now and put out some feelers. Let interested parties kick the tires and see what comes back. After all, a little competition could bring a few quality offers back for Nashville.
Finally, keep in mind that this Predators team was doing very, very well before Radulov returned last year as well. Would they love to add the right piece(s) at the right price? Absolutely. But is it a must that the Predators hit a home run this off-season? Likely not – provided they are able to re-sign key personnel like Ryan Suter.
The draft is just around the corner, and I would expect to see something develop in the days leading up to it if a deal is to be had. Keep in mind Radulov is an RFA, meaning Nashville could qualify him if the wind changes, but that really doesn’t sound like it will be an option.
Until next time, keep your stick on the ice.