If you are a fan of the Nashville Predators, ask yourself this question. Are we like the Blackhawks, Flyers, Rangers, Red Wings, Canucks, Bruins, or Penquins? Or are we more like the Coyotes, Blue Jackets, and Islanders? I am not talking about big market hockey teams versus small market. I am talking about organizations that DEMAND progress. Owners, GM's, Coaches, and Players. Accountability is never in the background. You are either a Stanley Cup contender, or you aren't. Just making the playoffs doesn't make you a contender. Being one of the top 4 or 5 teams in the league does.
In my opinion, Nashville has only been one of the top teams in the league one time. That was the the 2006-2007 season. That is as close as we have ever come to winning the Central Division. But there is another statistic that stood out about that season. Nashville was a +60 in scoring, good for 3rd in the league. Why is this such an important statistic? Take a look at the last 10 years.
- 2003 - NJD +50, 6th on the league
- 2004 - TBL +53, 2nd in the league
- 2005 - No Cup Champion
- 2006 - Carolina +34, 6th in the league
- 2007 - Anaheim +50, 6th in the league
- 2008 - Detroit +73, 1st in the league
- 2009 - Pittsburgh +25, 8th in the league
- 2010 - Chicago +62, 2nd in the league
- 2011 - Boston +51, 2nd in the league
- 2012 - LAK +15, 10th in the league
Here is my point. Let's look at Nashville rating over the last 10 years. -23, -1, +32, +60, +1, -20, 0, +25, and +27. In the 2006/2007 season, Nashville had a scoring differential of +60, good for 3rd in the league. You might remember that team..Kariya, Arnott, Forsberg, and Sullivan. We had 7 players who scored over 50, 4 that scored over 60, and Kariya who led the team with 73 points.
When you look at Nashville's team the last couple of years, and especially this year, we don't have any players who are anywhere near the type of impact player of Kariya, Arnott, Forsberg, or Sullivan. Granted, Arnott, Forsberg, and Sullivan were on their downhill swing of their careers, but Kariya was a bonafied superstar. And he made Arnott, Forsberg, and Sullivan better. We don't have any players who make the other players around them better, save for maybe Shea Weber.
I ask again, does anyone think we are one of the elite teams in the league? Do we have elite owners? GM? Manager? Players? I would say we have an elite manager and 2 elite players(Pekka Rinne and Shea Weber).
Our owners haven't shown me anything that makes me believe that they can play with the big boys. Signing Weber and Rinne doesn't mean anything. Rinne was an obvious choice. Weber we had to sign or else we would have had the lowest payroll in the league and had trouble getting to the salary floor. We are still $17 million below the cap this year, and projected to be $18 million under next years cap. How many years have we heard our owners say, our fans will dictate our future? Well, our fans have filled up our arena for 24 straight sellouts. We are doing our part. Time for our owners to step up.
We are biased here in Nashville. David Poile is a nice guy, and a perfect compliment for Barry Trotz. But has Poile really been that good of a GM. Has he drafted well? Has he signed the right free agents? Has he made the right trades? We like to focus on all the good that Poile has done. But are we evaluating Poile like fans in Vancouver, Detroit, Chicago, or Philly would evaluate their GM? I'd say we are far too easy on Poile. The fire-sale was years ago. What has he done lately? When was the last time Poile made a big move on Draft Day? When was the last free agent signing that turned heads around the league? Hell, Poile can't even take credit for signing Shea Weber. He merely signed him to a contract negotiated by Philly. When was the last time Poile made a trade deadline deal that changed the balance of power around the league? David Poile is the master of signing quality character role players(minus Radulov and AK46). However, he has struggled when it comes to top end talent. Maybe ownership has held him back, but after 13 years, ownership can't be the reason Nashville has never had a 35 goal scorer. And Poile is 100% to blame for not trading Suter at the trade deadline last year. I don't care if Suter misled him. Poile was naive and believed what he wanted to believe. And he paid dearly for this mistake.
Barry Trotz...All hail Barry Trotz. In fact, David Poile should give half his salary to Trotz. If it wasn't for Trotz, Nashville would not have made the playoffs the last several years and Poile would have been fired. Ask yourself this question. If Trotz coached Vancouver, Detroit, Chicago, Pittsburgh, or Philly the last 10 years, how many Cups would he have won? I'd say at 2 or 3. If you give Trotz a team that can score, he will mold them into a winner that can play defense. Trotz wouldn't know what to do if he had 40 goal scorer. Just think how good Rinne would be if hey didn't have to worry about losing 1-0 and 2-1 games.
All of this leads me to the players. We have the largest collection of old, slow, beyond their prime veterans, who are leading young, overhyped role players. Colin Wilson is our leading scorer at 15 points, good for 66th in the league. Here are the untouchables on our team. Rinne, Wilson, and Weber. Hornqvist, Ellis, and Josi are touchable, but only for an amazing offer. Everyone else is scraps. When you have that many scraps, your team had better be a seller at the trade deadline. However, part of me believes we will do what we have always done. Make some stupid trades to try to get us into the playoffs. We may make it to the 2nd round(highly unlikely this year), but have no chance of advancing to our goal. If we can't make it to our goal, then we need to SELL. Get rid of the scraps. Get rid of the fringe players. Get draft picks in return. Bring up our AHL player and see what they can do. I'd rather miss the playoffs, tank this season, and load up on talent and rebuild around Rinne and Weber. Find a way to unload Erat, Leggy, and Fisher. Nice guys. Average hockey players.
Well, I am done venting. Hope you enjoyed.