So where does this team rank among all of the Predator teams, and is it the most disappointing team in the history of the franchise? That is the question I have been asking myself the last few days. So I thought I would pose that question to the group. Lets take a look at each of the non-playoff teams for the Predators and see if we can discern where this season falls into the rankings. I limited this to the non-playoff teams because there is a something to be said for making the playoffs.
1998-1998 The Inaugural Season
The Inaugural Season was great in the sense that we finally had NHL level Hockey in Nashville. Not much was expected of the team that year. They fought hard, but were severely outgunned in the pre-salary cap era. The city of Nashville came out in droves to support this team. The attendance numbers were quite impressive that first year at 16,194 per game. That is still good for 4th highest attendance in a season by the franchise. The outcome wasn't as great. The Preds finished the season second to last in the Western conference, finishing ahead of Vancouver by 5 points. Below are the statistics for that first team.
Goals per Game: 2.32
Goals Against per Game: 3.18
The Second season was more of the same for the franchise. Again we were outgunned against most of the teams we faced. This team was building a reputation for working hard, but the results were not quite there. The fans in Nashville were still in the honeymoon period and the attendance was once again amazing. The 16, 599 attendance average is the 3rd highest in team history and was just passed last season. Below are the statistics for that second season.
Goals per Game: 2.43
Goals Against per Game: 2.93
2000-2001 Here We Go Again
The third season saw the team start to make some headway. We finished the season in 10th place. 10 points out of the playoffs. It was the closest we had been up to that point, and was the first sign that Trotz and the Front Office's plan was beginning to pay off. Attendance had begun to wane, but was still respectable for a southern market. We finished the year with an average attendance of 15,642. That would be the highest attendance for many, many years. Below are the statistics for that team.
Goals per Game: 2.27
Goals Against per Game: 2.44
2001-2002 A Step Backwards
The fourth season saw the team take a step backwards in terms of on ice performance and in the ticket office. The Preds finished 14th in the conference. Only ahead of fledgling Columbus. A trend that would continue almost ever year. :) They also were beginning to lose the momentum in attendance as well. The team's average attendance dropped to under 15k for the first time at 14,788. Below are the statistics for this team.
Goals per Game: 2.39
Goals Against per Game: 2.80
2002-2003 What Now
The fifth installment of the Predators was somewhat of a reason to celebrate. We had not made the playoffs yet, but we had maintained a franchise. Keeping that up was about to be more of a challenge. The team finished 13th in the Western Conference and improved their play from the previous year. The very next season would be really special, as the Preds made the playoffs for the first time, but many of the pieces started coming together this season. Attendance was beginning to become a real issue though. The Preds finished with the lowest average attendance in the franchise's history up to that point and also the lowest in the league that year at 13,228. Below are the statistics for that season.
Goals per Game: 2.23
Goals Against per Game: 2.91
2008-2009 What Just Happened
The expectations were subdued for this team. We had survived the fire sale and the ownership change. Who else hates Blackberry? With little money to maneuver, leading to virtually no roster changes, the Preds battled all year long. We didn't quite make the playoffs. Making it the first absence for this franchise in 5 seasons. The team finished the season 10th in the Western Conference. The biggest news was the return of Sully after missing serious time with a back injury. Sullivan also became the first Predator player to win a post season award that summer. The attendance was improved at an average of 15,010. Below are the statistics.
Goals per Game: 2.60
Goals Against per Game: 2.84
2012-2013 Well... That Sucked
Well here we are. This was an interesting year. The summer saw us lose a great defenceman in Suter, and survive Weber Watch. We now had two top players locked up long term, and were left to wonder if the team could repeat the success of the previous year. The fiasco in the desert was behind us and all attention focused on the looming NHL lock-out and what that would mean for hockey this year. The 2 sides were finally able to find some common ground and end the absurdity that was the NHL lockout. Now it was time to get back to business and see what this team was going to be capable of.
After missing the Playoffs in 08-09 we had been back 3 straight years. The previous year they were considered serious Cup contenders before laying an egg in the second round against Phoenix. It was great to have hockey again, but that didn't last long. Not long into the season the injury bug reared it's ugly head in Nashville. That combined with the lack of any serious offseason moves to improve this roster, left the Predators with little NHL-level talent. There were more call-ups from the AHL than I can ever remember. Needless to say, the Preds are going to finish near the bottom of the standings. As I am writing this we currently sit in 14th place in the Western Conference. A place we haven't been since 2001-2002. Attendance was higher than this franchise had ever seen at 16,974 average a game. The Lockout had some impact on that, but have covered that in another post. It was a disappointing season on many fronts. Below are the statistics for this team. (*shortened season due to the lockout)
*Goals per Game: 2.30
*Goals Against per Game: 2.72
When I am looking back at all of the teams that have missed the playoffs, it is hard for me to say this is not the most disappointing. Is it the worst? I don't know. It is hard to compare things across different time periods. Even those as short as the Predators existence, but let's look at this teams rankings vs the other teams. The ones we can compare due to the shortened season anyway.
P%= 4th out of 7 teams
Goals per Game: 5th out of 7 teams
Goals Against per Game: 2nd out of 7th. (Thank god for Pekka.)
When you look at that, and compare that to preseason expectations, I do not see how this cannot be the most disappointing team in the franchise's history. What do you think? Which of the non-playoff teams would you say was the most disappointing?