Presented in no particular order, here are a few of the major news stories regarding the Nashville Predators from 2012. Vote in the poll below, and make your case in the comments as to why one of these was the Greatest...
- Radulov's Return - Nashville's trade deadline acquisitions were nice, but the return of Alexander Radulov to the Predators gave fans reason to believe that the team had the elite-level offensive difference-maker who could help lead them deep into the playoffs. Of course, we all know how that story turned sour during the Phoenix series - a late night out with Andrei Kostitsyn led to being benched for Games 3 & 4 of that series, with the Preds then eliminated in Game Five. It looks we've seen the last of Rads in Predators Gold, but that last fling was quite a wild ride, wasn't it?
- Suter & Tootoo Leave as Free Agents - The question of how the Big 3 could be retained long-term hung over Nashville for the last year or more, and once Pekka Rinne signed up for a 7-year contract extension, the reluctance of Ryan Suter & Shea Weber to do the same raised doubts among many fans. Sure enough, Suter left for big bucks and familiar territory in Minnesota, and in addition, Jordin Tootoo, one of the most popular figures in team history, signed with hated rival Detroit after a tumultuous final year with the Preds.
- Shea Weber Offer Sheet Matched - It was as bold a ploy as has ever been attempted in the history of NHL offer sheets. 14 years, $110 million of heavily front-loaded money was put on the table by the Philadelphia Flyers, and Weber's agents implied in public that their client would prefer to play for the high-spending Eastern Conference contender. The Predators had the option to match the offer and retain their captain, which they did. It will be interesting, however, to see how the next CBA deals with such outlandish contracts, and how that will impact the Preds under the salary cap.
- Preds Beat Detroit - Winning a playoff series had been done in 2011, but defeating the Red Wings in the first round of 2012 was a milestone achievement for a franchise which has long looked up at Detroit in the standings. The Preds have finally beaten the Central Division bully, just in time for a new power in St. Louis to arise.
- Predators in Las Vegas - Once again, David Poile, Shea Weber & Pekka Rinne were finalists for the award recognizing the best in their profession (GM, defenseman & goaltender) but came up short. Mike Fisher brought home the NHL Foundation Player Award, however, recognizing his charitable endeavors.
I could go on and on, but those seem to be the five major contenders for the Biggest Nashville Predators Story of 2012? Which gets your vote?
I also want to take this occasion to thank all of you for your support during the year gone by. Until this stupid lockout came along, it was a damned good year for OTF. Our community kept growing, we were named Best Sports Blog in Nashville, and stretched in a few different directions, by welcoming in new writers and launching our YouTube channel. Here's to hoping that we can all get back to Game Threads and goofiness again real soon.