Nashville may not be considered a true hockey market. As a matter of fact, the ownership issues over the last couple of years have been in the media spotlight more than the team's performance, whether negative or positive.
I wasn't born in Nashville. I don't reside in the "Music City". Heck, I probably couldn't point to it on a map of the United States. OK, well, maybe I could do that. But there is something about the Predators I like. Actually, there's a handful reasons I like the Preds.
Dan Ellis. A relative unknown thrust into a back up role to Chris Mason. Ends up taking over the starter's role and playing spectacular down the stretch and in the playoffs. When he's not in goal, he dons the headset and gives his open, honest, and very witty analysis to the boys in the booth, and he does this right from the bench.
JP Dumont. Not the greatest skater but he manages to get the job done. You gotta love a player that is loyal to a team whose ownership issues were all over the papers, and yet he re-signs to remain a Predator because he said, "I like the direction this hockey team is headed." (Emphasis on the word hockey.)
The Nashville Predator Goal Girls. Now pretty much every team in the NHL has some sort of Pseudo-Cheerleading team. But for some reason, the Goal Girls make me stand at attention anytime a Preds player lights the lamp.
The boys upstairs. Pete Weber and Terry Crisp have a chemistry unmatched by any duo in the league. The banter is sometimes so good I forget about the action at ice level. Crispy sounds like he gave up on school in the third grade, but he's so darn likable that you totally forgive him.
And he certainly knows the game. Weber has a voice you won't soon forget and his home team bias is spewed in very tolerable amounts. Heck he gets ya cheering for the Preds by the first intermission.
...and the Number One reason to Love the Preds
Barry Trotz! Or as I lovingly refer to him "No Neck". Let's admit it, when we first were introduced to Trotz, he looked like your prototypical hard-nosed, "Rah-Rah" motivator type who ruled a dressing room with an iron fist. Hired to get as much as possible out of the assembled has-beens and never-will-bes. Instead he has proven to be a delightfully ingenious tactical motivator.
Most coaches around the league talk about the difficulties of getting their boys focused game in and game out. Well, Trotz has done one better.
No, scratch that, he's done about four better. He's managed to keep his players focused and motivated through talk of relocation, talk of ownership changes and ownership scandals, through the fire sale of almost all the big name talent in the summer of 2006 (another repercussion of the ownership issues), and lastly, has kept his players performing, while watching one of the young stars leave for Mother Russia in the offseason while under contract with the Preds.
The only thing I don't like about Nashville is that the lack of hockey media attention (on the positives) is virtually zero, and thus, Barry Trotz has received little to no consideration for the Jack Adams Trophy as the NHL's coach of the year.
But, somehow, I get the feeling "No Neck" is not in it for the individual accolades anyways.