2017 NHL All-Star Roster Announced

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Image Source: NBC Sports

Moments ago, the NHL released the final roster of the 2017 NHL All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles January 28th-29th. Not surprisingly, Nashville has only one player on said roster: P.K. Subban, who was voted by the fans as the Central Division Captain. And, with his upper-body injury slated to be healed by the All-Star Weekend, Subban may have to relinquish his captain duties to someone else for safety’s sake.

– CENTRAL DIVISION

  • P.K. Subban – Nashville Predators
  • Corey Crawford – Chicago Blackhawks
  • Devan Dubnyk – Minnesota Wild
  • Ryan Suter – Minnesota Wild
  • Duncan Keith – Chicago Blackhawks
  • Patrick Kane – Chicago Blackhawks
  • Jonathan Toews – Chicago Blackhawks
  • Vladimir Tarasenko – St. Louis Blues
  • Patrik Laine – Winnipeg Jets
  • Nathan MacKinnon – Colorado Avalanche
  • Tyler Seguin – Dallas Stars

 

– ATLANTIC DIVISION:

  • Carey Price – Montreal Canadiens
  • Tuukka Rask – Boston Bruins
  • Victor Hedman – Tampa Bay Lightning
  • Shea Weber – Montreal Canadiens
  • Erik Karlsson – Ottawa Senators
  • Frans Nielsen – Detroit Red Wings
  • Nikita Kucherov – Tampa Bay Lightning
  • Vincent Trocheck – Florida Panthers
  • Auston Matthews – Toronto Maple Leafs
  • Kyle Okposo – Buffalo Sabres
  • Brad Marchand – Boston Bruins

– PACIFIC DIVISION:

  • Connor McDavid – Edmonton Oilers
  • Martin Jones – San Jose Sharks
  • Mike Smith – Arizona Coyotes
  • Cam Fowler – Anaheim Ducks
  • Brent Burns – San Jose Sharks
  • Drew Doughty – L.A. Kings
  • Ryan Kesler – Anaheim Ducks
  • Joe Pavelski – San Jose Sharks
  • Jeff Carter – L.A. Kings
  • Johnny Gaudreau – Calgary Flames
  • Bo Horvat – Vancouver Canucks

– METROPOLITAN DIVISION:

  • Sidney Crosby – Pittsburgh Penguins
  • Braden Holtby – Washington Capitals
  • Sergei Bobrovsky – Columbus Blue Jackets
  • Evgeni Malkin – Pittsburgh Penguins
  • Wayne Simmonds – Philadelphia Flyers
  • John Tavares – New York Islanders
  • Alexander Ovechkin – Washington Capitals
  • Ryan McDonagh – New York Rangers
  • Justin Faulk – Carolina Hurricanes
  • Taylor Hall – New Jersey Devils
  • Seth Jones – Columbus Blue Jackets

What do you think about the roster for this year’s All-Star Weekend? Nashville isn’t the only team with one representative, but if you want to include former Preds (Ryan Suter, Devan Dubnyk, Seth Jones, and Shea Weber), then Nashville’s actually pretty well represented.

All joking aside, the big question is will Subban be healthy enough to participate? As mentioned, his 2-3 week recovery time ends at about the time of the All-Star festivities, but should not participate if it risks re-injury (thus keeping him out of the lineup even longer). Of course, that will be something the organization and Subban discuss as time gets closer.

 

 

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OT woes continue to plague Preds in 2-1 loss against MTL

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Image Source: Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Although it was a bittersweet night with the return of Shea Weber to Nashville since being traded to Montreal for P.K. Subban in the off-season, it wasn’t how the Predators had hoped to start 2017 and the second half of the season. The 3-on-3 OT format has been in place since last season, and while the rest of the league has generally figured it out, Nashville just hasn’t seemed to get it down. In fact, Nashville’s OT/SO record since the start of last season is 7-20. Woof.

However, it’s that continuous inconsistency that forces the Predators into that all too familiar scenario that is the overtime loss. Nashville’s lone goal was notched by Kevin Fiala with less than a minute left in the second period, his sixth of the season. Fiala’s backhander was assisted by Ryan Ellis (9) and Roman Josi (15). It wouldn’t take long before Shea Weber would come knocking, collecting his 10th goal of the season with the assistance of former (and not so welcomed) Predator, Alexander Radulov. It’s almost like he doesn’t know how not to score in Bridgestone Arena.

While Nashville would push Montreal beyond regulation (which used to be considered a good thing), overtime would yet again deny Nashville of the much needed win and two points. Captain Max Pacioretty would seal Nashville’s OT fate for his 16th goal of the season. Let it also be known that Radulov assisted on this goal as well (his 20th overall).

Despite this loss, Nashville’s penalty kill looked rather decent, with the Predators denying the Habs four times throughout the match. Montreal gave Nashville three chances at the man advantage, but prevented them from ever getting a chance at net. Oh yeah, and Carey Price is a stud. And yet, so is Pekka Rinne. As Peter Laviolette mentioned after the game:

Of the 45 shots on net from Montreal last night, Pekka Rinne stopped all but two. Carey Price only faced 24 from Nashville. While some would rather argue that Juuse Saros should be given more ice time (and I don’t disagree – to an extent), Rinne is still Nashville’s veteran and starting goaltender; and pardon my French here, but he’s still damn good. Saros will be an outstanding successor for Rinne but for now, he’s just that; the future. He probably should see a little bit more ice time, but that’s a debate for another day.

Nashville has no time to pout about their former captain stealing the show; it’s onward to Florida to face the 19-16-4 Tampa Bay Lightning. At this point, the Predators have no time left to revel over poor performance; just time to recoup and continue seeking the solution to their inconsistency before the playoffs are out of reach.

Let me leave you on a rather heartwarming note with Nashville’s tribute video to Shea Weber. A TV timeout just wasn’t enough time to convey what Weber has done for Nashville and the growth of hockey in our city. So many lives have been impacted positively by your actions both on and off the ice. Truly, there are not enough thank yous that can be said to express how grateful we are. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

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Saros earns first NHL career shutout; blank Blues 4-0

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Image Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

As I mentioned previously, the Predators needed to feed off the frustration that mounted in last night’s loss against Chicago and boy, did they.

While the first period saw no net action, Nashville did prevent St. Louis from advancing on two power play chances thanks to some handy penalty kill work. Nashville would begin its onslaught of goals in the second period, starting with Yannick Weber at 4:52 for his first goal this season (and within the Predators organization). Craig Smith (7) and Mike Ribeiro (16) would assist on Weber’s first goal.

Filip Forsberg would answer the call at 7:26 on the power play to give Nashville a 2-0 lead for his 8th goal of the season. Mike Ribeiro (17) and Ryan Johansen (20) would pick up the assists.

While Weber and Forsberg’s goals were wonderful gifts from the hockey gods, it would be Viktor Arvidsson’s dirty wrister that would steal the show:

Viktor Arvidsson, who was been quite the shining star for Nashville, earns his 10th goal of the season, assisted by Matt Irwin (5) and Mike Fisher (10).

Carter Hutton was brought in at the beginning of the third period to relieve Jake Allen between the posts, but could not stop Colin Wilson from netting his 6th goal of the season on the power play at 8:08. Wilson’s wrister was assisted by Filip Forsberg (15) and Ryan Ellis (8).

While St. Louis would be given one extra power play chance at 13:14, rookie goaltender Juuse Saros would keep the Blues at bay, earning his first career NHL shutout. Saros, who has shined as Nashville’s backup, further proved tonight that he will be the future between the posts for the Predators. But leave it to Pekka to have us all a little misty eyed as he congratulates his apprentice on his shutout:

After a tough loss against the Blackhawks last night, tonight’s shutout against the Blues certainly has the potential to set things straight for Nashville and its hopes for a playoff run. If anything, it is a great way to end the first half of the 2016-17 season and, likewise, opens up the Predators to a fresh start in 2017.

Next up, Shea Weber and the Montreal Canadiens come to town on Tuesday, January 3rd at 7PM. Hopefully, P.K. Subban will be ready to face his former team as we celebrate Nashville’s former captain and defensive rock.

 

Subban to miss next two games; questionable against MTL

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Image Source: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

December 15th. That was the last time P.K. Subban suited up for the Predators since sustaining an upper-body injury. Although he is still listed as day-to-day, The Tennessean’s Adam Vingan reported earlier today that Subban is expected to miss the next two games on the schedule: Chicago (tonight) at home and St. Louis (tomorrow) on the road.

While there is no bad news coming from information regarding his injuries, there is no good news either. The defenseman has been absent from practice, but has remained active in the community. Not to say one cannot be injured and still perform community service acts, but to me, it’s a good sign.

One of the biggest concerns regarding Subban’s injury, however, is will he be ready to face his former team on Tuesday night? Due to the Subban-Weber trade being one of the biggest shakeups of the off-season, the first meeting between the Nashville Predators and the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday is expected to be a highly anticipated event. But if you have Shea Weber, but no P.K. Subban, it sort of takes the wind out of the fun, right?

Of course, on Nashville’s end, you don’t want to possibly cause further injury by having Subban return before he is 100% ready just for show. However, as the leader of ice time before his injury on the 15th, Nashville is more than ready to have P.K. back in the lineup.

While Montreal has blossomed thus far with both Shea Weber and former Predator Alexander Radulov (21-9-5, 1st Atlantic), the Predators have had a bit of a difficult time adjusting (15-13-6, 6th Central) since the loss of the tenacious defenseman that was (and is) Shea Weber. However, from a Montreal fan point-of-view, the loss of P.K. Subban outweighs the nine goals, eleven assists he has produced for the Canadiens. At least, that’s what we’ve heard. While Nashville has not lived up to the hype that the NHL expected after a successful 2015-16 run, there is still time for the Predators to turn this train around. But let’s not beat around the bush; it isn’t much time. Tonight’s bout against divisional rival, the Chicago Blackhawks, could be the much needed win that pushes the Predators back into Stanley Cup contention (hey, we are trying to stay positive here). While the Predators have the talent, the constant inconsistency is what is holding Nashville back. It’s like the old Jerry Reed song that goes, “When you’re hot, you’re hot. When you’re not, you’re not.” I would say that’s a good way to describe how Nashville has fared thus far this season. Truthfully, they will need to find another song before Sunday if they want to see the playoffs. Where’s DJ Eric Nystrom with the playlist when you need him?

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O Captain, What Captain: Who will be the 7th Nashville Predators Captain?

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While checking out at Publix over the weekend, the kid manning the self-checkout station approached me about my P.K. Subban shirt. Yes, I’ve already purchased a Subban “shirtsey” because I am still giddy about this trade. He asked me about who would replace Shea Weber as captain and I mentioned a few options, but ultimately decided it was worth a post.

While this subject has been up for debate since the millisecond after it was announced Weber was shipping off to Montreal, it has been fun to see all the different speculations as to who might be presented with this significant role and title. But first, let’s talk about the roles of captain and alternate captain. While it is easy to assume that the more veteran players would be on the top of the list, that is not always the case. Gabriel Landeskog of the Colorado Avalanche is a prime example that age and (NHL) experience doesn’t always play a major factor when it comes to becoming the captain. Drafted second overall in the 2011 NHL Draft, Landeskog became the youngest captain in NHL history at the age of 19 in 2012. It should also be noted that – though it’s nothing new to Nashville – being a part of one organization for years doesn’t automatically qualify you for the position (or alternate) either. Sorry Leggy.

Yet another option to consider? How about no captain at all. Yes, believe it or not, there are a few teams that spend their seasons without a designated leader. The Edmonton Oilers did not have a captain last season, just a rotation of four alternate captains. And, in a more wild and unlikely (but possible) scenario, there’s the chance that title could go to Pekka Rinne (who will be featured below). Back in the day (1920s-40s), being a goalie plus the captain wasn’t unheard of. Now? Well, the League hasn’t banned net-minders being the captain altogether, but they will not acknowledge this extended title. The last goaltender to be named captain was actually rather recently in 2008 when the Vancouver Canucks bestowed the title to Roberto Luongo. While the league would not allow him to perform on-ice duties or wear the iconic ‘C’ on his sweater, he did sneak a captain’s ‘C’ onto his mask. Luongo held his captaincy from 2008-2010 before handing the title to Henrik Sedin.

I write this all to say that anything is possible as to who may be the next captain of the Nashville Predators, but I have my beliefs that it will be Roman Josi. However, it’s fun to go through all the possibly candidates because… who knows? Plus, I miss hockey.

Possible Captain Candidates:

Josi

 

  • Why he should be Captain: Uh, because he’s Roman Josi? All kidding aside, Josi has shown an incredible amount of skill and poise both on and off the ice. While we’ve known of his capabilities for years, the rest of the league is finally taking notice. After being selected to the 2016 All-Star festivities this year, Josi was finally getting more attention has a competitive contender instead of just Shea Weber’s linemate. Being an integral part of the Predators organization, this would be the time to give Josi the reins and promote him to captain status.
  • Why he wouldn’t be Captain: While I believe Josi has the greatest chance of becoming the next captain of the Nashville Predators, you cannot overlook Mike Fisher’s leadership and contributions to the team. I believe there is a slim chance they may give it to Fisher for a year and groom Josi into the position once Fisher retires.

 

Fisher

  • Why he should be Captain: Fisher has been an alternate captain since his first full season with the Predators in 2011-12. If you were to go by veteran presence alone, then Mike Fisher’s your guy. He is undoubtedly a leader both on the ice and off, thus transitioning into the captain’s role would make complete sense and would come easy to the center.
  • Why he wouldn’t be Captain: As mentioned, Fisher’s role as captain would make total sense, but there is one thing to consider: his possible retirement. Not every NHL player is a Jaromir Jagr and 36-years-old is getting kind of up there in hockey years. That, and being a new father kind of puts other things into perspective on the family front as well (because we all know Carrie’s not slowing down for a while). If he were to retire after the 2016-17 season, that means the process of choosing another captain would be up for grabs after one year. Not a huge deal, as Kimmo Timonen served as captain for one season (2006-07), but why not go ahead and choose someone that has no plans of retiring any time soon? Now, I have no idea when Fisher plans to hang up his skates, but I believe it will be sooner rather than later (he does only have one season left on his contract).

Neal

 

  • Why he should be Captain: Neal has had a leadership role with the Predators ever since arriving to Nashville in the 2014-15 season and quickly became one of the notable faces of the franchise. Though it doesn’t seem like it, Neal would fall under the veteran status within the organization and this could be his time to step up within the team.
  • Why he wouldn’t be Captain: While I don’t really have a reason as to why he would not do well as the captain, I just believe there are two better candidates on the team at this time. It is also important to note that Neal has a bit of a reputation with the officials and that does throw in a hindrance as well.

Alternate Captain Candidates:

I think it’s obvious that, if Roman Josi is named captain, the two alternate captains would continue to be Mike Fisher and James Neal. However, like last season, Roman Josi and Pekka Rinne were names alternates although they did not wear the ‘A’ on their sweaters (no, goalies cannot wear an ‘A’ either). The players below are who I believe would be good candidates for alternate captain:

 

Rinne

 

  • Why he should be an Alternate: As we are all aware, Pekka is a positive dude and holds himself accountable for situations under his control (and even those not under his control). He keeps his cool and, on the rare occasion he does get upset, you know he’s serious. Goal-tending is an unique position that essentially requires you to have some kind of leadership skills and/or qualities; Pekka Rinne’s got that down pat and it is clear that the rest of team looks to him in times of need.

 

Johansen

  • Why he should be an Alternate: Though he’s facing his first full season with the Nashville Predators, I certainly see him as being a part of the leadership group. Johansen, like Neal, has a bit of an edge to him, but it’s an edge that makes him memorable in a good way. Although he is young, he does have the makings for a great leader and Nashville will be his home to perfect those qualities.

Forsberg

  • Why he should be an Alternate: Before the acquisition of P.K. Subban, there’s no doubting that Filip Forsberg was the most exciting player on the team (and he still could be). He’s young, well-spoken, level headed, and it’s clear that the Predators intend to push him as a franchise player.

Subban

  • Why he should be an Alternate: Not only has he held this role with the Montreal Canadiens, but he is also easily the most recognizable and marketable player on the team (before even laces up with the Predators). Enough said.

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  • Why he should be an Alternate: With an intensity on the ice, Ekholm has a knack for standing up for his fellow teammates in their time of need. This devotion to his team signifies a quality a leadership that his former captain was well known for.

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  • Why he should an Alternate: With the trading of Weber, Ryan Ellis has now found himself in almost a veteran position. As someone who has expressed leadership qualities well before his time with the Predators organization, it would only be natural for the 25-year-old defenseman to move up into a more defined leadership role.

So, to summarize all of this, I believe Roman Josi will be the seventh player to be named captain of the Nashville Predators, with Mike Fisher, James Neal, and Pekka Rinne as the alternate captains. Should I have just said that from the get-go? Probably, but then this post wouldn’t have been so much fun (or taken me nearly as long). Do you have the same predictions or are you thinking something completely different? Well, we will all see soon enough.

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Preds buyout Jackman Contract

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Image Source: The Tennessean

So who all woke up this morning thinking the Weber/Subban trade was all a dream? Yeah, it’s still hard to wrap your mind around and it’ll be a while before it all sinks in. But, while you continue to process that information, the Predators camp is far from settling down.

Early this afternoon, it was announced that the Predators bought out the contract of veteran defenseman Barret Jackman. Jackman (35), who was signed to a two-year, $4 million contract on July 1, 2015, spent his first 16 years with Central Division rival St. Louis Blues. With this buyout, the Predators now have around $9.3 million in available cap space, which could mean additional assets are on the horizon (free agency starts tomorrow).

Jackman’s buyout came as a surprise to just about everyone as he brought an exceptional veteran presence to not only the ice, but off ice as well. This move, as mentioned above, could signify that David Poile has his eye on someone special.

Though he was part of the organization for less than a year (by one day), Barret Jackman played a significant role with Nashville and its push towards the Cup. I wish him well in his future with the league and/or beyond.

NSH trades Weber to MTL for Subban

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Yes, you read that headline correctly. Just days after winning the 2016 Mark Messier Leadership Award, Shea Weber has been traded in a deal with the Montreal Canadiens for fellow defenseman Pernell Karl Subban, better known around the world as P.K.

For me personally, I am finding myself in a glass case of emotions… On one hand, this is an outstanding trade. Subban is undoubtedly one of the best defenseman in the league and snagging him from Montreal would be insane. On the other hand, in order to snag someone like Subban, you’ve got to have something just as valuable in return. That valuable piece? Either Shea Weber or Roman Josi. As much as we’d all love to imagine having all three together, it’s just impossible on too many levels. And with that, our beloved captain has been traded to Montreal and the rumors of “when will Weber be traded?” have come to an end on this day, June 29th, 2016.

Unlike the laughable trade that came an hour earlier between the Edmonton Oilers and the New Jersey Devils (one-for-one Taylor Hall for Adam Larsson deal), this trade is good for both parties involved. Montreal receives a powerful, veteran defenseman and Nashville gets a younger, more offensive-minded defenseman that will pair well with Roman Josi in return.

Here’s a little info on P.K. Subban from the Predators:

Subban, 27 (5/13/89), is among the most decorated defensemen in the game today. Individually, he won the 2013 Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top defenseman, was a finalist for the award in 2015, is a two-time First-Team NHL All-Star (2013 and 2015) and a 2011 All-Rookie Team selection. He has helped teams win a gold medal at the 2014 Winter Olympics and a pair of World Junior Championships (2008 and 2009). Over the past four seasons – dating back to 2012-13 – the 6-foot, 210-pound blueliner has amassed 203 points (42g-160a) in 274 regular-season games, third most among all NHL defensemen. He has surpassed the 50-point mark in each of the past three seasons, highlighted by a career-high 60 points (15g-45a) in 2014-15. He has advanced past the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in each of his last two appearances in the postseason, ranking fourth among NHL blueliners in points (5g-9a-14pts) in 2014, helping Montreal reach the Eastern Conference Final.

A native of Toronto, Subban started his professional career in 2009-10, being named to the AHL All-Rookie Team and an AHL First-Team All-Star after leading all league blueliners in goals (18) and ranking third in points. The 43rd overall selection in the 2007 NHL Draft (second round) played four seasons with the OHL’s Belleville Bulls from 2005-09, posting 190 points (42g-148a) in 234 games and being named a 2009 First-Team OHL All-Star.

Subban has also become renowned for his charitable contributions, and recently received the 2016 NHL Foundation Award which is presented to “an NHL player who applies the core values of hockey – commitment, perseverance and teamwork – to enrich the lives of people in his community.” In September 2015, he announced a $10 million pledge over a seven-year period to the Montreal Children’s Hospital Foundation (MCHF), and often employs various initiatives to engage the community and raise awareness about those causes nearest to him.

That’s right. If somehow you missed this piece of information about a year ago, P.K. Subban is quite the charitable giver and will be a huge asset to the Nashville community as well. So you get elite defenseman + all around nice guy. Can’t beat that, right?

Shea Weber will be truly missed. Drafted 49th overall in the 2003 NHL Draft by the Predators, Weber has been an integrated figure in the Nashville community and the Predators organization for nearly ten years. It really hasn’t set in that he has been traded, but I am sure as the pre-season festivities begin, it’ll hit us all pretty hard. As a writer, I am supposed to keep my heart out of moments like these, but I am also still a fan. It is hard not to become attached to players; it’s like a friend moving away. It sucks. But alas dear Weber fans, you will be okay. Trust me, you’ll love P.K. Subban.

Forsberg Signs Six-Year, $36M Contract with Preds

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Image Source: Claus Andersen/Getty Images

The deal we’ve all been waiting patiently for has finally been revealed: Filip Forsberg and the Nashville Predators have agreed to a six-year, $36M contract, guaranteeing the 21-year-old Swede will make $6M each season from 2016-17 to 2021-22.

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Nice. Here’s a little excerpt from the Predators on the signing:

“Filip is among the most skilled, dynamic talents we’ve ever had in the organization and is an integral part of our success for the next six years and beyond,” Poile said. “While we have already seen his creativity, hockey sense and puck skills, he has yet to reach the peak of his abilities. We have full confidence that he will continue to blossom into one of the top players in the world.

This is just another example of our ownership group’s commitment to the franchise, our fans and the entire community to build a team that can reach our ultimate goal of winning the Stanley Cup.”

Forsberg, 21 (8/13/94), led the Predators in goals (33) and points (64) for the second consecutive season during his sophomore campaign in 2015-16. His goal total tied the single-season franchise record and for 10th in the NHL, while his point total put him among the League’s Top 25. The 6-foot-1, 205-pound winger recently received two first-place nods and finished 10th in voting for the 2016 Selke Trophy – given to the NHL’s top defensive forward – while playing all 82 of Nashville’s contests for the second season in a row.

Forsberg is also a decorated player internationally, having made his World Championship debut for Sweden in 2015, being named one of the country’s three best players of the tournament after ranking second among all skaters in goals (8), and third on Team Sweden in points (9) in eight games. He captained Sweden to silver medals at the 2013 and 2014 World Junior Championships, being named 2014 tournament MVP and Best Forward and to the 2013 tournament All-Star Team; he helped the Tre Kronor claim gold at the 2012 World Junior Championship; he captained his country to a silver medal and was named Best Forward at the 2012 Under-18 World Championship; and earned another silver medal at the 2011 Under-18 World Championship as the team’s youngest player.

Thankfully, the Predators and Forsberg came to an agreement before really dragging it out, giving fans a chance to sigh with relief; unlike when it was time to re-sign Shea Weber (See: Weber Watch 2011). So how is that for a happy Monday, Preds fans?

Weber wins 2016 Mark Messier Leadership Award

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Image Source: Google Images

For the third time in the organization’s history, a Nashville Predators player has won an award at the National Hockey League Awards. Now, the organization has had countless nominees, but yes, only three winners in its eighteen years.

Those three guys? Steve Sullivan won the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy in 2009, Mike Fisher won the NHL Foundation Player Award in 2012, and now Shea Weber, winning the Mark Messier Leadership Award earlier tonight.

The Mark Messier Leadership Award is presented to the NHL player who exemplifies leadership capabilities both on and off the ice, including charitable contributions in the local community. Along with Pekka Rinne, Shea Weber created the 365 Pediatric Cancer Fund, which benefits the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. Weber’s commitment to his hometown of Sicamous, British Columbia also helped win him this award.

Though the league and fans have a hand in deciding who will be the chosen few for this award, the winner is ultimately decided by Mark Messier himself. Messier ultimately decided that Shea Weber was more worthy of his aptly-named award than John Tavares of the New York Islanders and Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals.

Biased are we, but this award was much deserved by the Predators captain. Congrats to Shea Weber!

Preds Fans: Don’t Cry because It’s Over; Smile because It Happened

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Image Source: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Well ladies and gents, that certainly wasn’t the outcome we all wanted for the home team by any means but all good things must come to an end at some point. Unfortunately for Nashville, that end came at a 5-0 loss to the San Jose Sharks in Game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinals. Perhaps it was because we gaffed at the Dallas Stars as they fell to the St. Louis Blues 6-1 in their Game 7 the day before that lead to Nashville’s beatdown from the Sharks. Could it have also been the extra day of rest due to a Selena Gomez concert at the SAP Center, an event that caused almost all Preds fans to become Selenators (yes, I looked that up)? Was it the little black cat adorably named “Joe Paw-velski” that ran across the ice during Game 1? Maybe it was because Nashville has never won a game in a playoff series in San Jose. Whatever voodoo or karma you wish to believe in that caused Nashville to crumble last night, it happened and the history making season has come to a close.

But history for the seventeen-year-old franchise was made and that should certainly not be overlooked. Nashville witnessed its first ever Game 7 in Round 1 against the Anaheim Ducks and sealed their first ever Game 7 victory in the same bout. Nashville would reach its second Game 7 in franchise history last night against the San Jose Sharks. Unfortunately, the history books had shut on the Predators at that point. The Predators hit some amazing milestones for its young franchise this season and postseason, which only means they will have to work to go further in the future.

Also to be noted was how the city of Nashville – and all of Tennessee, for that matter – stood with the Predators on their postseason journey towards bringing the Cup to Nashville. Though the Tennessee Titans and the Nashville Predators have a friendly relationship that only rivals due to business aspects, the NFL home team stood tall next to its professional brethren and the players and coaching staff made sure a side of the sports world that may not be as familiar with hockey got a taste of it.

Nashville’s sports roots do belong to football and baseball; there’s no doubting that. But those football/baseball fans have latched onto this frozen sport quite tightly and, whether it was a PR stunt on the Titans part or not, this relationship between the Titans shown through the playoffs was a beautiful thing indeed. With the torrential badmouthing of the Titans and their output on the field, perhaps this was a way for the Titans organization to not only back a winning team, but show its players what winning does for the growth of a fan base. Don’t get me wrong; no matter how terrible the Titans continue to be, they aren’t going anywhere and you won’t find a decrease in tickets sales either. But seeing the emotional connecting that the Predators organization has with its fans – who are also Titans fans – is definitely something of which a fellow professional team should be mindful. Several Titans players, including Marcus Mariota, Taylor Lewan, Delanie Walker, and crowd favorite Avery Williamson made appearances at several playoff games in Nashville.

The Titans weren’t the only Nashville team to stand with the Predators, either. The Nashville Sounds sent out their best wishes via a video:

And, being the Music City, the Predators had plenty of musicians cheering the team onto victory including Dierks Bentley, Chris Young, Vince Gill, Tim McGraw, and – of course – Carrie Underwood.

Several Nashville businesses jumped behind their favorite hockey team as well during the postseason push, including the following:

Seeing all the love from around the city and state was a beautiful sight for us who love the sport of hockey. Not only does this benefit the Predators, it also sheds light on youth hockey – in a strange way – as well. There’s no doubt that, when a team is winning, its exposure grows exponentially and, since we live in a college football dominated region, even a little bit of exposure goes a long way. So many new fans were born this post season and, while some will drop off, a good number will continue to follow the Predators into the next season this October and their love (because there’s no other word for it) will blossom into a passion for the sport. I would say Nashville’s exposure as a legitimate hockey town was an eye-opener to many outside of the city. Of course, the All-Star festivities this year certainly helped, but the fan base made its point that we should be taken seriously as a hockey-loving Southern city. It’s that college football mentality that makes us so unique; makes us so passionate. It’s what makes Nashville a true contender for the Stanley Cup at some point.

So what do the Predators and its organization do now? Well, relax, for one thing. Relax then begin preparing for next season. Now that the 2015-16 run is over, news on injuries sustained by some of the players is beginning to surface, including the fact that Roman Josi has been playing with both a broken finger and nose. Filip Forsberg, who was rather quite and “un-Forsberg-like” this postseason, revealed to Tre Kronor, the Swedish national team, that he has been nursing a back injury. I have been asked if Shea Weber was injured due to his performance last night but not every bad night is due to an injury. Sometimes, bad nights just happen. Sadly for Weber, that night came last night in Game 7. Again, these injuries definitely do not excuse for a poor performance, but they do add into it for sure. No player – on any team in the postseason – is playing at 100% right now. The endurance of a hockey player is insane; something I feel basketball and soccer players could learn from.

It would b e difficult to overlook last night’s performance and remember what an incredible season and postseason Nashville has had this year, but it is possible. Before you even realize it (maybe even now), you’ll be asking, “Is it October yet?” and the excitement of a new season will turn you into a little kid again.

The Sharks played a clean, tough series and you can’t fault them at that. I just hope they take out the Blues. And remembering that Nashville was one of the Top 5 teams this postseason is something to be proud of, too. As old Dr. Seuss once coined, “Don’t cry because it’s over; smile because it happened.” Yeah, that was cheesy but it’s true… and you know it.