VANCOUVER, CANADA - MAY 7: Shea Weber #6 and Joel Ward #29 of the Nashville Predators celebrate after defeating the Vancouver Canucks in Game Five of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on May 07, 2011 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
This last week was an emotional comedown for Nashville Predators fans, from the anxiety heading into Monday's Game 6 against Vancouver, to the end of that series and the season, the wrapup over the next few days, and now, the initial appraisals of what issues face the team over the summer in preparation for 2011-12.
J.R. Lind wrote a wonderful article in the Nashville Scene about that moment when the handshakes were complete and the fans enjoyed one last moment with their on-ice heroes:
Rather than returning to the locker room, the team held up at the bench, players gazing skyward as most of the sellout crowd stood and applauded, bummed by the loss but appreciative of what was, by nearly every metric imaginable, the most successful of the Predators' 13 seasons at the corner of Fifth and Broad.
Despite falling short against the NHL's best team - and giving them all they wanted, as only one game of the six was decided by more than one goal - the team did what they typically only do after a win. The Predators, the losing team, took a lap around the ice, raising their sticks and showing love to the fans, from those who were there from Day One and through all the relocation drama to the new ones who got caught up in the Fang Fever of the playoff run.
That was a moment that needs to be savored, Preds fans. Looking ahead, there is every reason for optimism, but along with that optimism will come increased expectations. Is it time for this team to win a Central Division title? What about a deeper push into the playoffs? If next year's version of the team loses in the first or second round, will that be seen as failure?
Ponder that question of how this season's success might impact your expectations and attitudes toward next season's Predators team while perusing this morning's hockey news...
Nashville Predators News
303 QUICK POLL: Would you welcome Radulov back? | Section 303
An oldie, but a goodie.
It’s been one week… | The Predatorial
Kris expects more of the same next season.
End Of Season Thank You Post | Admirals Roundtable
It was a good year for the Ads Roundtable, which grew out of the ashes of Ye Olde Admirals Short Shifts.
Decision on J.P. Dumont’s contract looms large for Predators - Nashville Predators Examiner
Jim Diamond walks through the decision process on J.P. - everyone's favorite Predator off the ice, but increasingly marginalized on it.
Preds players see stock rise, fall in wake of playoffs | Nashville City Paper
David Boclair reviews some of the winners and losers from the playoff run.
Around the NHL
Boogaard Memorial a Chance to Say Goodbye - Hockey Wilderness
Fans in Minnesota gathered to remember Derek Boogaard yesterday.
Leaving a loving legacy - NYPOST.com
Larry Brooks broke the news that Derek Boogaard was receiving treatment through the NHL's Substance Abuse and Behavorial Health Program, but reminds us that this "does not diminish the big man's legacy in the least."
Game 1 Report Card ; Welcome To The Jungle - Nucks Misconduct
Game 1 between Vancouver and San Jose was a spirited affair, with the Canucks pulling out a 3-2 win.
Bleacher Report: The Problem With Sports Journalism " Resurfacing the Ice
In case you've ever wondered why I never link to Bleacher Report... it sure looks like a latrine from the outside, and this view from the inside pretty much confirms everything I've suspected.
Chris Mason Chats With Illegal Curve Radio, Seems Fairly Ok With A Move. - Bird Watchers Anonymous
The former Pred sounds not just resigned, but optimistic about the Thrashers moving to Winnipeg.
Third Period Suomi Wave Leads Leijonat to Gold - Puck Worlds
Well what do you know, our very own Captain Hair (former Predator Antti Pihlstrom) assisted on the winning goal as Finland captured its first World Championship since 1995.
IIHF World Championship Final Standings - Puck Worlds
We're #8! We're #8! We're #8!
EU, United States Politicians Urge IIHF to Ditch Belarus 2014 - Puck Worlds
The World Championships are scheduled to be played in Belarus 3 years down the road, but the president there is pretty much a thug. A hockey-loving thug, but a thug nonetheless.
N.B.A. Executive Says He Is Gay - NYTimes.com
At some point, the dam will break and this will happen in the NHL, too.
Hockey World - Edmonton Journal
A bucketful of observations from veteran hockey writer Jim Matheson.