While I’m scouring the Caribbean for a 2nd-line winger (since David Poile hasn’t found one yet), stay tuned for a number of features highlighting the members of what has become a vibrant and diverse community – your Nashville Predators bloggers. Before heading out on vacation I had the good sense to get others to do my writing for me this week, so I asked them to answer some questions which will not only help you get to know each one of them, but also provide some conversation about where the Preds are headed this season. I hope you’ll enjoy their replies as much as I did.
Get to know a Preds blogger: Buddy & Jackson Oakes
One of Nashville's three sets of tag-team podcasting bloggers, the father-and-son duo of Buddy and Jackson ply their trade over at Preds on the Glass, and are always testing the boundaries of this developing medium. Whether through their post-game video interviews, or their ever-growing presence on Twitter, Buddy & Jackson do a great job not just covering the Preds, but reaching out to hockey fans in other cities, as their weekly podcast includes a constant variety of guests from all over North America. As homegrown Tennessee Predators fans, they make wonderful ambassadors for Nashville as a hockey city.
Follow after the jump for more on the Oakes boys...
Q: How long have you been a hockey fan, and have you always followed the Preds?
I have followed hockey to differing degrees since I was a child. The first game I saw was sometime in the mid 60's when my father took my best friend Mac Dale and meI to see the Dixie Flyers. We were sitting in the second level at Municipal and Mac managed to get hit in the chest with a puck that I think he still has.
From that experience, we were hooked and turned his basement hallway into a rink where we played for hours with rulers and bottle caps that mostly ended up in scrums. When the Blues came to St Louis I used to follow them and listen to their games on the radio.
During the 80's and 90's I was a casual fan of the various Nashville teams but only attended a few games a year. When the Preds came, I was very civic-minded and bought two season tickets to help the push to 12,000 pre-sales. Our seats ended up in Section 303 of all places and I was hooked on NHL hockey from the first game and have missed few games in the Pred's franchise history.
Jackson has been a Pred's fan and attending games since the first season when he was a "wee four years" as he put it. For the first year, he was convinced that everyone was yelling "your son" but soon realized it was something else. Maybe when he writes his memoirs he will be able to say that he stated his life in the "Cellblock."
Q: What drew you into blogging?
I have always been writing something through the years and was even editor of my High School paper. Growing up, Columbia native Lindsey Nelson, the Mets/Notre Dame football replay announcer, was a family friend and had great influence on my addiction to sports. As a child, he took me on to the field and into the dugout of the Mets during spring training. I still have tons of autographed balls from the ‘Miracle Mets" era.
My most long standing sports writing gig before was writing a twice a month column as the Atlanta Braves correspondent for an early Internet newsletter for several years in the early to mid-nineties. One of my best efforts was a eulogy to Lindsey Nelson that I wrote the day that I attended his funeral.
Two years ago, I met up with Sammy Woo of Hockey Prime Time and started contributing to his site so that he would have a Pred's correspondent on his site.
During the summer, before last season, I was encouraging Jackson to write as part of his home schooling and he and I agreed to start PredsOnTheGlass. Jackson has always been full of opinions and wanted to do a project with me so it was a great endeavor for us to take on. We were consistent in our efforts and started sharing content with a few other sites so that they would have original Preds content.
In December, I received a call from Marion Wilhoite, the sports editor of The Daily Herald and he asked if we would be willing to come on board with them as their hockey correspondents. At about the same time, I was also in contact with Kevin Greenstein of Inside Hockey and we started contributing there.
In January, Jackson and I started POTG Radio on BlogTalkRadio and have had a blast doing the show and getting to know a wide variety of folks by having them as guests.
One of our primary goals and visions through the whole process has been to promote hockey to the local fans and give them something more to read to feed their hunger for information about the Preds.
At the same time, and equally important, a goal has been to educate folks from the more traditional hockey areas of North America that folks in Nashville are good hockey fans and that we do indeed "deserve" a team.
One of my favorite "conversions" is Mick Kern of XM 204 who went from hating everything Nashville to actually liking the Preds, owning a t-shirt, and wanting to come to a game sometime.
Q: Before we dig into the year ahead, what's your favorite hockey memory?
Personally, seeing my two sons, Fisher and Jackson playing on the same line at Southern Ice was incredible. Also, seeing them getting into a bit of a fight one time on the ice was a thrill too (Sorry to those who think that is a terrible thing for a parent to say. The rest of you understand).
On the NHL level, this may be the oddest answer that you get. On May 30, 2006 I was on an extended camping trip with Fisher and Jackson in the desert Southwest and we were riding thought the washboard roads of Monument Valley listening to Rick Jeanerette's call of the Sabres- Hurricanes game six elimination game on the satellite radio.
We parked in the campground for the night and right at sunset, Buffalo scored to push the series to game seven. We were in one the middle of the most majestic scenes in our country and the boys and I were whooping it up over the Sabre's win. I can't really explain why, but that moment has always "stayed with me" as the Pred's slogan says.
Jackson's favorite memory was also playing on the same team with his brother Fisher. On the NHL level he claims that the 8-0 thrashing of the Wings last year was his most satisfying moment.
Q: With training camp on the horizon, which new Predator are you most looking forward to seeing?
Without question, Jackson and I agree that it is Colin Wilson. He is really a good guy both on and off the ice. We've had the opportunity to talk to him a couple of times and he is truly the real deal. Whether he sticks with the club at the start of the year or not, he will be a fan favorite in Nashville for years to come.
Q: Who would you like to see on the second line with Legwand & Erat?
Ideally, it would be good to see Alex Radulov or another proven NHL level sniper but I know that is never going to happen.
What I foresee is that we will have a revolving door of different folks being rotated in and out of the position until someone steps up and lays claim to the spot.
Jackson is on the Joel Ward bandwagon and wants to see him there permanently for the whole season.
Q: Who's your pick for Most Improved Pred this season?
Jackson is going with Ryan Jones. I haven't heard Barry Trotz drop Jones' name much in the off-season so I wonder if Jonesy is in the doghouse or something.
After having a very mediocre season last year and needing to earn a new contract, I wonder if Jordin Tootoo might be more productive this year. He had his best season when Martin Gelinas took him under his wing a couple of years ago so maybe he will turn it around again this year with some encouragement from Marty in camp.
Q: Who will lead the team in scoring?
Jackson and I both are going out on a limb here with Steve Sullivan. Hopefully, Sully will play the full season with no additional problems and get into the ninety-point range.
Q: Where do you think the Preds will finish in the Central Division and Western Conference?
If I was from another town and did not understand the heart of our team, I would probably say fifth and twelfth. Jackson is very adamant with a fourth and eighth ranking. He has also said that this would be the year that the Preds make it to the second round of the playoffs.
I can go with that, but I also think that the entire Western Conference is wide open and that if a few things can fall in place for the Preds that they could finish higher.
The key will be to lock in the goaltending and defense early on and not wait until mid-season to start to solidify as a team. Scoring will be improved and the power play could not be any worse. There may be some slippage on the penalty-kill but Pekka will have to pick up the slack. I am hoping that the teamwork and intensity of the second half of last season will carry over and launch the Preds to the season that we all want to see.