The Nashville Predators Reflect on a Disappointing Season and Look Toward a Bright Future

Monday, 04.29.2013 / 11:06 AM CT / News
By Jimi Russell  - Nashville Predators
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The Nashville Predators Reflect on a Disappointing Season and Look Toward a Bright Future

The Nashville Predators held their end-of-the-season celebration on Sunday afternoon at Bridgestone Arena. The day included various events around the arena, an open skate for those in attendance and the season recap press conference where President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile, Head Coach Barry Trotz and CEO Jeff Cogen each made statements front of several hundred fans and members of the media, reflecting upon and dissecting a season that concluded sooner than everyone would have hoped.

The season recap conference began with Cogen, who discussed to trials of dealing with the shortened season and also highlighted how the Predators front office overcame what troubled many teams.

“The lockout shortened the season,” Cogen said. “It created a different timeline and it created a different set of rules. That is really unfortunate because we really had a lot of momentum coming out of last season on the business side. It put us in a reactionary mode, rather than a proactive mode.

“Our goal has always been to sellout the building. We sold out the first 16 games of the season and ended up selling out 20 of 24 games. If you count the last eight regular season games from last year and the five playoff game, that gives us 29 consecutive sellouts. Our average attendance was just a little below 17,000 fans – 16,974. We broke the 10,000 season ticket holder base for the first time in this millennium.”

While the support from the fan base is as strong as ever, many questioned the effort put forth on the ice this season as the Predators missed the playoff for just the second time in nine years.

Head Coach Barry Trotz felt that this year was a strange year on the hockey side, and while he won’t make excuses for the final outcome of the season, the impact was surely felt on the ice.

“It was a very difficult year from a coaching standpoint,” Trotz said. “It was a strange year. We can talk about all the different things – the 48-game schedule, the competition in the West, but from my standpoint, it really burns me to talk about excuses.

“As a coach, there are some things you have control of and some things you don’t. Obviously, injuries played a big part to where we are, especially among the core position, the forward position. The top two lines were completely disseminated. You can replace a few guys here and there, but you can’t replace a whole bunch of them at the same time. With our core players in the lineup, we probably would have made the playoffs, but injuries didn’t allow us to do that.”

Trotz attributes some of the Predators on-ice struggles to the team not finding an identity – the Predators culture that so many fans have come to know and love.

“More than anything I think we need to get back to our culture,” Trotz said. “It really showed in our road record. We weren’t as relentless or as hard to play against as we should be or as we’ve been in the past. That a cultural thing. Our job as coaches and management is to get back to what [the fans] demand and expect from the Nashville Predators. We are going to be harder to play against. We’re going to add a little sand paper to our lineup. We want to turn this building into the Roman Colosseum when teams come in here. We were just too easy to play against this year and that’s not a reflection on this season because most of our roster was not there. We need to get back to the point where teams say, ‘yeah we’re coming into Nashville… great.’ That’s what you want them to think – great we’re in Nashville. We’ve got to get back to our culture – we are going to get back to that Predator way of playing.”

While the Predators identity may have been lacking during the 2012-13 season, perhaps the most telling trait lies in the goals-for column. The Predators dipped from the eighth-highest scoring team in 2011-12 to a tie for 30th this season. The lack of scoring has become a top priority for Poile and his management team moving forward.

“I know, we know, we need to be more dynamic at the forward position,” President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile said. “We’ll be looking to replace Martin Erat with a proven, veteran forward. The salary cap is going to go down for the first time in eight years and that should provide some interesting situations for teams that are up against the cap and may make some players available. The trade of Martin Erat signals that we are moving quickly and more dramatically to address this issue.

“The reality of this team is that we were built around our defense and our goaltending, and it’s been that way for several years. We, as an organization, have realized that we need to have more dynamic forwards. We have addressed that in recent drafts and we will continue to do so this year. The next step is the NHL Entry draft on June 30, where we will have a several draft picks, including a top five pick, which we haven’t had since our first year in the League with David Legwand.”

The defense-first system the Predators have fielded year-in-and-year-out may be changing in the near future, and for some, that change cannot come soon enough.

“The bottom line is we weren’t good enough this year, but we will be good enough in 2013-14,” Poile said. “As Barry said, we have a strong foundation with Shea (Weber) and Pekka (Rinne). Our ownership has demonstrated great commitment to this franchise. I truly believe we have the core here to make it happen. Like Barry, I want to believe there were extenuating circumstances and a little bit of aberration to this season and we will be back up to being a playoff caliber team next season.”

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STANDINGS
 

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - ANA 82 51 24 7 228 221 109
2 y - STL 82 51 24 7 239 197 109
3 x - NSH 82 47 25 10 226 202 104
4 x - CHI 82 48 28 6 220 186 102
5 x - VAN 82 48 29 5 236 220 101
6 x - MIN 82 46 28 8 227 198 100
7 x - WPG 82 43 26 13 223 204 99
8 x - CGY 82 45 30 7 237 213 97
9 LAK 82 40 27 15 218 197 95
10 DAL 82 41 31 10 257 257 92
11 COL 82 39 31 12 209 223 90
12 SJS 82 40 33 9 224 226 89
13 EDM 82 24 44 14 193 276 62
14 ARI 82 24 50 8 165 267 56

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
F. Forsberg 82 26 37 15 63
M. Ribeiro 82 15 47 11 62
R. Josi 81 15 40 15 55
S. Weber 78 15 30 15 45
C. Smith 82 23 21 11 44
C. Wilson 77 20 22 19 42
M. Fisher 59 19 20 4 39
J. Neal 67 23 14 12 37
R. Ellis 58 9 18 8 27
S. Jones 82 8 19 3 27
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Rinne 41 17 6 .923 2.18
C. Hutton 6 7 4 .902 2.61