The Predators fan base is such an interesting group to watch from a distance. Back in the expansion era they had two major message boards that culled together similar thinking fanbases. The first being HFboards which lured overly serious hockey fans who cringed at the prospect of communicating about things other than their life blood, hockey. And the recently defunct Nashville Predators message boards that was akin to the local sports bar where hockey was the theme but there was light conversation and the occasional bar stool flying overhead. HF was like Mr. Spock, NP Dr. Spock. Now the groups have scattered to various communication platforms and there really isn’t one play you can observe the herd from but with recent changes to the coaching staff I can’t wait to see the changes to the Preds fan base. For 17 years the Nashville Predators fans have raised and coddled on the hockey knowledge of Barry Trotz and David Poile. 17 years. That’s 4 presidential terms, the age of your average high school senior, that’s just an incredible length of time for a fan base to suddenly shift to a new style of hockey. As a semi-pro sociologist, I just want to see the reactions.
What will the Predators fan base say when they see a more offensive minded team? Will they gasp in horror, rejecting the new game like an Alabama fan rejecting a kidney from a razorback? Will they comment from the stands in a polite manner on how the team is not following the 17 year game plan when the players are doing exactly what their coaching staff has asked of them. Or will it be a balm. A pleasure to see a new sight from eyes so longingly craving a change in scenery? Stockholm Syndrome or an escaping prisoner screaming in joy when the warmth of a freeman’s sun touches his face? There will be milestones. Big milestones.
When will the honeymoon end and the fans go from gratitude for the change to status quo of cynicism? What of the morphine of goals fades away and the fans look at each other going, "Where’s the defense?"
And what of Trotz’s return to the Nashville Arena/Gaylord Entertainment Center/Sommet Center/Bridgestone Arena/place your ad here Rink?
(Seriously, what is the difference between a ‘Center’ and an ‘Arena’?)
There have been many returns. Players who have spent years for the Preds but nothing like this. Trotz is an emotional link to the fans and team. A strong case of a good man who can do good. A heart that pulls towards the honorable. Would Preds fans know about ‘Partner’ without Trotz? Would the ideals of Smashville and the level of class of the team be with the Preds if not for Trotz? You could make the claim that those ideals would be with the Preds with David Poile but there’s just something with Trotz.
And finally, what of Peter Laviollette?
Is he a stranger in a strange land of giant blue dentally blessed tigers, or will he slip into the community with an ease of a glove to a hand not owned by OJ Simpson?
I have to say it because it’s the phrase human’s hate with a passion to say; I don’t know.
I don’t know how Lavy will fit with the Preds. Hell, I don’t even know how Lavy is going to smuggle his pet turtle across the statelines without drawing the attention of the State Police. There are moonshiners and meth producers driving across stateliness without a care or worry but Frank the Turtle might just have to smuggle himself under the front seat of Lavy’s car in hopes of finding a new life in Tennessee.
But back to the team.
We are making assumptions that certain players will have a better time in the new coach’s system. Wilson, Smith, Stalberg, MDZ. But the fact is I’m still under the tutelage of Barry Trotz. I don’t know how things are going to work. I don’t know how the new system will work but I will sit back and watch with one eye to DC.