Yes, and here's why:
Disclaimer: This was written right after Monday's game ended. It is unorganized, not very well thought out and I'll probably regret it later. But hey, that's what being a fan's all about right? Here goes....
This was Nashville's season. It felt like everything the franchise had ever done since the fire sale and ownership problems was all culminating with this season.
The promising prospects had all developed. The team had brought in a killer group of free agents. Everything was starting to click.
Yet here we are, Monday night/Tuesday morning, and the Preds are out in five games in the second round. Hell, at least last year's team forced a Game 6 in the second round. Now the most uncertain offseason in franchise history looks closer than it ever has before, except the Predators have nothing to show for it. No Cup, no Finals appearance, not even a playoff run that most fans would particularly like to remember.
It's one thing to get bounced by a team that is clearly more talented, but with all due respect to the Phoenix Coyotes the Predators were the more talented team. They had a more skilled group of forwards, better defense and a better goalie. Say what you will about their effort, will to win, grit, determination, or whatever other cliche you want to throw out there about how they played, but you can't argue that they were the better team on paper.
(This isn't a post bashing the Coyotes. I don't hate them like I hated the Wings, Sharks, Blackhawks and Canucks after they beat the Preds. In fact, I'm happy for the Coyotes. It looks like they'll be staying in Phoenix, and I'm all for Sun Belt Hockey. Screw Canada. I just wish Phoenix's success could have come at the hands of a different team. But anyway...)
In the past, the Preds have had a convenient excuse after getting bounced in the first round. Well, they did what they could with limited resources. Well, they lost to the eventual Cup champs. Well, at least they got past the first round. For once, Nashville was the more talented and favored team, and they fell flat on their faces.
That's why I think this one falls on Trotz.
David Poile did a fantastic job of putting together a team that was capable of making a legitimate run at the Stanley Cup. So where was the problem? It's got to fall on the coaching staff. The first series was a thing of beauty. The Preds dispatched the team they never could quite get by and after those first five games everything looked just wonderful.
But then came the Coyotes, sending the season into a burning mess and driving it off a cliff.
Everyone said this postseason would be a defining one and boy was it ever. The Radulov/Andrei fiasco will certainly go down in infamy as the turning point in the postseason. I liked what I saw in Game 3, and said that I thought Trotz should stick with the same lineup for Game 4. But that's why I don't get paid to coach hockey, apparently.
Trotz put the two back in the lineup in Game 5, but by then it was too late. The Coyotes weren't going to spoil their chance to have the best day in their franchise's history, and credit them for getting it done.
But now Nashville is left with not a lot to look forward to. There are a few promising players in the system, but that's about it. Everything about this season was for once about this season, and not the future. The future was now, but now is in the past.
The list of upcoming free agents is too long to list. The Preds don't have a first- or second-round pick in the upcoming draft. It's tough to see Suter, Radulov or Andrei coming back. Weber will probably stick around for another year before hitting the open market.
And that's what Preds fans have to look forward to now. Not a deep playoff run. Not a Finals appearance. Not even a shot at a conference championship. Nope. The Preds will be sitting at home, wondering what could have been.
You thought last offseason was crazy, stressful and nerve-racking? Just wait.