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Thursday afternoon notes: A hard act to follow?

To the extent that there is discontent among portions of the Nashville Predators fan base this summer, I suspect that a fair portion of it is a reflection of increased standards, as we've seen the team break through that barrier of winning a playoff round, and having individuals nominated for some of the NHL's highest honors. It's no longer good enough just to work hard every night and hope that the team beats the odds and qualifies for the playoffs any more. No, fans want to see that next step taken, and understand what the plan is for taking the team there.

Apparently, Shea Weber may feel that way, too, based on what we heard in that infamous press conference last week. 

Follow after the jump as your afternoon hockey notes start off with a two-part blog that digs deeply into this issue from a variety of angles, which is followed by a tag-team interview with the Kostitsyn brothers that ranks right up there with the most unusual I've ever read...

Best of Nashville 2011 - Nashville Scene
The voting has opened in the "Best of Nashville" competition, and I'd appreciate your support for Best Local Blog. Just enter On the Forecheck and click the vote button, although you have to enter votes in 20 different categories before you can submit your ballot. If you have the time, you can even come back and vote every day!

Nashville Predators News

The $55.3 Million Question: How To Keep The Big 3 Intact? (Part 1/2) | Pull My (Fang)Finger
Predators fans have enjoyed the outspoken nature of chairman Tom Cigarran, and his vision of bringing the Stanley Cup to Nashville, but is there a downside to the way it has raised the expectations of fans and players alike?

The $55.3 Million Question: How To Keep The Big 3 Intact? (Part 2/2) | Pull My (Fang)Finger
AJ doesn't see equal value coming back in a Shea Weber trade, so the better option may be to raise the team's level of spending, as painful as that might be.

Best and worst sweaters of all-time: Nashville Predators | ProHockeyTalk
Joe takes his shot at the highs and lows of Preds uniforms over the years.

Around the NHL

CTV Montreal - Daily Hab-it: Kostitsyn sounds off - CTV News
Tongues will wag in Montreal after Andrei Kostitsyn sounded less than thrilled to play for Jacques Martin with the Canadiens. You have to check out the Google translation of the original interview, it's a truly mind-bending read. I swear for a while there I thought I had stumbled into a David Lynch film.

Ten candidates for a bounce-back season -
Who would you include from the Predators on a list like this? Patric Hornqvist, perhaps?

The Hockey News: Proteau: NHL teams need to have an image
I'd say this is one area in which the Preds are among the league's best. There is a well-defined style that characterizes the organization from top to bottom.

Shannon on NHL: Young coaches the trend -
Considering the fact that coaching salaries aren't covered by the salary cap (so big market teams could easily afford to bring in an experienced, big name guy), it is interesting to see how many teams are going with young, first-time NHL head coaches these days.

Did Vancouver fans discourage Milan Lucic’s Cup celebration? - Puck Daddy
It only takes a few boors to ruin a good time.

Behind Angry Birds mask and other goalie video game tributes - Puck Daddy
A Chris Mason mask from his Predators tenure is included here...

Stars sale talk _ Tom Gaglardi inching closer to `official' offer - The Dallas Morning News
And by "inching", Mike Heika's not kidding. This franchise stuff moves along at a glacial pace usually.

Amazing discount on Mission hockey skates | Hockey Gear HQ - news, reviews & deals
A special coupon code offers an extra 40% off already-discounted Mission hockey skates, for a limited time.