I wrote this small article about a player who I admire greatly...I hope you guys enjoy. Let me know what you think of Twitter @SethTheShocker
It sounds kind of funny when you say it out loud. Then you look at what all the young California kid has been through in such a short amount of time, and you realize his attitude, his game, the way he is...that's what the Nashville Predators are all about.
Let's take a trip back in time, shall we? Let's say the location in Columbus, Ohio. And let's just say the date is June 22nd. The year? 2007. We're at Nationwide Arena, home of the Columbus Blue Jackets. David Poile is nervous awaiting his pick, knowing exactly who he wants to pick up. The player just happens to be Max Pacioretty, the young power forward who played at Michigan. Everybody and their mother was mocking Pacioretty to Nashville, predicting that he was in fact the “prototypical Nashville forward”.
“With the 22nd pick in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, the Montreal Canadians are happy to select...Max Pacioretty, University of Michigan”. That had to sting...we all know David Poile wanted that big time forward, at that time the Preds were loaded on defense. Shea Weber, Ryan Suter, Kevin Klein, and Dan Hamhuis. All of which were playing solid hockey at that time. They weren't looking for a defenseman and if they say they were they're lying. Especially looking at what forwards were given up at that time, gone were the days of Peter Forsberg, as well as Scott Hartnell. Paul Kariya had just ran off to St. Louis, leaving Steve Sullivan, Jason Arnott, and J.P Dumont...many of which had to be replaced sooner or later. Nashville had to reach for a forward right?
David Poile does what he does best. He remained calm, and took the best Offensive Defenseman left on the board.
“With the 23rd pick in the 2007 NHL Draft, the Nashville Predators select Jonathon Blum from the WHL's Vancouver Giants.”
That wasn't what was suppose to happen, and everybody felt it. Everybody except Jonathon Blum. He was just happy to be drafted, and I think that he felt at home from day one. And at home he was...he went back to Vancouver to finish out his junior career. While there he racked up 129 points, while leading Vancouver on multiple playoff runs. He also won defenseman of the year over one of his teammates in Ryan Ellis. By this point, Nashville fans were beside themselves realizied they had such a stud prospect to add to their defensive core. Shortly after finishing his junior career, the young Blum was sent down to Milwaukee, where he was expected to gain some experience and seasoning. Upon which he did just that, then some...
He had his first full season in the AHL, going through what some call the “Predator way”. Suter did it, Weber did it, Klein did it...now it was Blum's turn. Jonathon recorded 41 points in his rookie year in the AHL, and looked damn good doing it. He had grown bigger, faster, stronger and had a cannon shot to boot. After a successful 2009-2010 season...it happened. Dan Hamhuis had left and signed with the Vancouver Canucks, and the future looked very bright for the young Blum.
While he improved, he didn't improve well enough to overthrow Shane O'Brien on the third line. So he got to take a trip back down to Milwaukee for more seasoning. Where he absolutely shined brighter than ever. He put up 34 points in only 54 games...we say only 54 because the next moment he had might have been one of his best. In the Spring of 2011 Jonathon Blum got to put on the Predators jersey for the first time in the regular season. It was time. Blum played outstanding while with Nashville, posting 8 points in only 28 games. He even had a + 8 standing, and it looked like Nashville Defense would be even deadlier with Ryan Ellis soon being ready to play. Blum looked like a fixture in the Nashville blue line for years to come.
Enter 2011-2012. Blum made the roster out of camp, and was poised to set up and start working on a sophmore campaign we would all remember. Except...it didn't turn out that way. He actually digressed some in 2011-2012, as he only recorded 7 points in 33 games. To make it worse, he had a -14 rating and looked lost at times out there. Trotz and Poile made a decision to send Blum back to Milwaukee so he could get his game back. Which he did, slightly...he managed to get 26 points for the Admirals, while having one hell of a fight against Rockford in a bench clearing brawl. However, Blum's plus/minus was still down in the AHL. He could have whined, he could have complained, but he didn't. He got in the gym and got bigger, faster, and stronger. Approaching 24 years of age, his time was coming. And come it did, tonight in the shape of a game against the San Jose Sharks. He recorded three shots, an even plus/minus, and had a couple of hits. On top of that he looked good out there, no more confusion, no more broken plays, just a lot of talent coming together.
Many Nashville Predators have to come through the system, the road to Nashville runs through Milwaukee as several people like to say. But not everyone stays that course, not everybody wants to work their way through Milwaukee. You've got those that complain about being in the minors, looking at you Dan Ellis. Then you have those who take the easy way out and leave the country, like Chet Pickard and the one Alexander Radulov. But Jonathon Blum never complained, he kept his head down and kept working until he got better. No matter how many call ups he had, no matter how many times he missed the roster out of camp, he was always happy and humble to be a Nashville Predator. That's the kind of guy I want in our locker room. We all remember when Martin Erat signed a 7 year deal to stay, because he wanted to be here. The same deal with Legwand, he came back because he wanted to be here. Pekka? Same road. And our Captain, he's down for the long haul no doubt.
I can't speak about what will happen to Blum in the future. He might go back to Milwaukee, but I think he's earned his spot and should stay put. He's been the subject of trade talks, but I don't want him to go. This whole time, through everything he's lead by example. He's kept his head down and gave a softened smile the whole time he's been with us. I hope Jonathon Blum is an Alternate Captain someday, and I hope he's a lifelong Predator. He's more than just a defenseman, he's an example to all those in Milwaukee who wonder what the “Predator way” really is.
Thanks for reading.