While I’m scouring the Caribbean for a 2nd-line winger (since David Poile hasn’t found one yet), stay tuned for a number of features highlighting the members of what has become a vibrant and diverse community – your Nashville Predators bloggers. Before heading out on vacation I had the good sense to get others to do my writing for me this week, so I asked them to answer some questions which will not only help you get to know each one of them, but also provide some conversation about where the Preds are headed this season. I hope you’ll enjoy their replies as much as I did.
Get to know a Preds Blogger: Jeremy K. Gover
As co-proprietor of Section 303 and the 303:30 podcast, Jeremy brings a fresh and opinionated voice to the Nashville hockey scene. Whether campaigning for Maxim Afinogenov as the solution to the Predators search for scoring depth, or openly questioning whether Barry Trotz's coaching job should be secure, Jeremy isn't shy about sparking conversation among the fan base. Read on for the story of this converted Sharks fan turned Preds blogger....
Q: How long have you been a hockey fan, and have you always followed the Preds?
A: I've been a fan since 1990. I grew up a Sharks fan but, even before the Sharks were in San Jose, the Pittsburgh Penguins
and the Minnesota North Stars
played an exhibition game at the Oakland Arena (where the NBA's Golden State Warriors play) in a neutral-site pre-season game. I had told my Dad that I had seen all four major sports in person except for hockey and we had to go. So we did. Mario Lemieux scored a hat trick and really put on a show that night. The speed of the game was so impressive and so intense, there was nothing like it. I was only 13 years old but I was already in Heaven.
Q: What drew you into blogging?
A: I've always been a writer. My third grade teacher gave each kid one composition book at the start of the school year. By the end of the year, not only had I gone thru three more, but she gave me a couple on my way out the door the last day of class. In 2004 I had a websitejeremykgover.com
where I featured my interviews with musical artists (Edwin McCain, John Ondrasik of Five for Fighting, Angelique Kidjo), comedians (Mike Birbiglia, Gallagher) and sports personalities (Drew Remenda, San Jose Sharks
broadcaster) and that got me to believe that access to artists and athletes wasn't as hard as I thought it was; it was all about how you approach it and who you talk to. Well thanks to that experience, I was confident I could run a website so when Mark Hollingsworth approached me about taking over section303.com
I didn't hesitate, knowing I had produced content before. I had also just started in radio so I knew I wanted to bring an audio element to the site as well. Once I teamed up with Codey Holland
, it all became crystal clear and I was able to realize those goals. It's amazing what you can do when you've got a strong partner next to you.
Q: Before we dig into the year ahead, what's your favorite hockey memory?
A: My favorite in-person memory is JP Dumont scoring that short handed goal in Game 2 of the Western Conference Quarter Finals against the San Jose Sharks on April 13, 2007. I was up in my seat in 303 (a/k/a "the perch") and just watched in astonishment as the Preds got hosed on just about every call that game. If I remember correctly, Jason Arnott
got a phantom high-sticking call, Scott Hartnell
took a bad tripping penalty and then Alexander Radulov
got a five and a 10 for checking from behind that was beyond ridiculous. The crowd was turning ugly and it was getting bad in there. Then, Ryan Suter
took a roughing penalty, which was deserved, but the crowd went ballistic when a Shark player didn't get called for a penalty as well. All that tension in the building was pallatable it was so thick. The fans were up in arms, the team had barely survived a 5-on-3 powerplay for over a minute and it seemed like nothing would go the Preds way. Until Dumont broke in with Scott Nichol
short handed and snapped one past Evgeni Nabokov
for the most satisfying goal I've ever witnessed live and in person. The place exploded. I'm still surprised the roof didn't come off the place it was so loud.
Q: With training camp on the horizon, which new Predator are you most looking forward to seeing?
A: Cal O'Reilly. He showed so much in his 11 games with the big club last season that it's scary to think how good he could be in an entire NHL season. He excites me more than Colin Wilson
does, and I'm pumped to see what Wilson can bring to the table.
Q: Who would you like to see on the second line with Legwand & Erat?
A: I'd like to see UFA Maxim Afinogenov on the 2nd line with Leggy and Erat. Afinogenov is crazy-talented and needs a change of scenary to return to his 2005-06, 06-07 form. It's no secret the Preds need a scoring left winger on the 2nd line. When Alexander Radulov left, he left a huge void in the depth chart. Afinogenov fills that void. A creative, flashy, scoring winger who loves to score goals. I wouldn't mind seeing Petr Sykora
don a Preds sweater but, if he does, I'm really going to want to see him reunite with Jason Arnott on the top line and we all know that's not happening.
Q: Who's your pick for Most Improved Pred this season?
A: Pekka Rinne
. I believe the Preds would've been a playoff team had he have been the starter from day one. Now, of course, Dan Ellis
, deserved the starting job out of training camp last year. No one's denying that. But just look at Rinne's consistent numbers throughout the year last season and project how many more wins we would've had if he had been the number one guy all along. He deserved the Calder Trophy more than Columbus's Steve Mason
did yet wasn't even nominated and that should be motivation in and of itself. To not be recognized as one of the best rookies last year is a flat-out insult considering the team he had in front of him for half the season. True, he did hit a wall (it seemed) in the last week of the season so maybe that's a concern, but I think with the experience of last year under his belt - and this being a contract year - Rinne is ready to become a 40-win goaltender.
Q: Who will lead the team in scoring?
A: I'm not sold that Steve Sullivan
is ready to play all 82 games, otherwise he'd be the obvious answer (he hasn't played a full season since 2002-03). I'm going to go with last year's leader JP Dumont. Dumont had a career year tallying 72 points in 2007-08... a season WITHOUT Sullivan. Think of the damage he could do with
him. He also had an off-year last year. I predict he bounces back to his normal form and leads the team with 85 points this upcoming season.
Q: Where do you think the Preds will finish in the Central Division and Western Conference?
A: Four teams in the Central Division will make the playoffs this upcoming year, just as last year. The only change will be Columbus will be out and Nashville will be in. (Hey, Steve Mason is not the real deal. Sorry Columbus). I see Nashville finishing third in the division and sixth in the conference.