Wednesday's notes: It's Hockey Day In Nashville

"Here... here... the gang's all here...

Today's Skate of the Union represents one of the truly special days on the hockey calendar here in Nashville. The festivities get rolling at 10:00 a.m. with a sidewalk sale by the arena Pro Shop, followed by the used equipment sale, which opens to season ticket holders at 11:30. There will be a party on the plaza later in the afternoon, and of course the main event at 6:00, which features the new jersey unveiling and the panel discussion by team leadership (complete schedule can be found here).

My question to you this morning is, what are you most looking forward to out of this event? I think we need to temper expectations about any big surprise announcements of contracts or player trades, but there are lots of things to anticipate. Just being down at Bridgestone Arena with a crowd of hockey fans, sifting through the used equipment sale for deals on top-end hockey gear, autograph signings by Preds alumni, etc.

For me, the most interesting part of the evening is David Poile's assessment of the situation heading in to training camp. It's natural for someone in his position to hype the prospects in the system and the potential they all have, but taking a realistic assessment, you'd have to think that today's roster is thin up front and missing some aggressive beef on the blueline, and that's just compared to the group which finished the playoffs, which was already banged up and drawing on reserves at the time.

The kids in the pipeline don't do much to address either of those concerns, and some proven NHL talent will be needed before the season starts. From here until late August, however, the market grinds to a near halt as the hockey world takes its well-deserved vacation, so we're going to have be patient.

So chime in with your thoughts on tonight's event in the comments below, after your morning hockey news - which includes another profile of how Calgary is pushing ahead in what I'd refer to as Hockey R&D...

It's the final week of balloting, and we'd be honored to receive your daily vote for OTF as Best Blog in Nashville. Just click the banner below, sign in, then OTF can be found in "People & Places" ->"Best Blog". Be sure to check out our Hockey Fan's Guide to Toast of Music City Voting.

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Nashville Predators News

Really, we're all just waiting for the SOTU tonight!

Around the NHL

Calgary Flames Moving Into New NHL Era - SportsMoney
The Flames recently hired Chris Snow as their Director of Statistical and Video Analysis. Attention, Nashville Predators, you're falling behind in the geek race.

Meehan says Doughty "would be willing to stay"?? - Jewels From The Crown
If 9 years and almost $60 million isn't enough to get him signed, this could really get ugly.

Blues Sign Former 50 Goal Scorer | TrueHockey
Does Jonathan Cheechoo have anything left in the tank? Doubtful, but it's a low-risk gamble for St. Louis.

A Tale of Two Conferences - Western College Hockey Blog
Stay tuned for news later today on what the leftover schools from the WCHA plan to do in light of the formation of the Big Ten Hockey Conference.

Tempered Expectations for Reimer " Toronto Maple Leafs Hot Stove
Fans in Toronto need to settle down a bit when it comes to their young goalie.

Sharks swimming in new waters during 2011-2012 season - Fear The Fin
I wonder if expectations will be lowered, given all the names who've left San Jose.

Mike Duco’s 15 minutes starts… NOW. | The Hockey Writers
*gasp* Player tweets unkind things about a player on another team, and now they're teammates. The scandal!

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