Thursday, April 30, 2009

Second Round Picks. Or, Why I'm Not a Bookie

On to the second round of the play offs, and it's time for the View's Pre-View of the match ups and his bold predictions. Without further ado, here goes...

Boston versus Carolina

The Canes stunned the Devils in a thrilling game 7 to advance to second round. Their reward is getting to play what I believe to be the best team in hockey right now. Cam Ward has been outstanding in net for the Canes, and he will have to continue his exemplary play for them to have a chance in this series. Boston possesses three talented lines and can produce goals from any of them. The D corp for the B's should dominate the Carolina forwards, especially the second and third lines.

The View's Pick- Boston in 5

Washington versus Pittsburgh

The brass at NBC and the NHL headquarters must be beside themselves about the marquee value of this matchup. Crosby against Ovechkin. I bet if the game next Saturday goes to overtime, NBC won't even cut away to the Kentucky Derby pre-race coverage. While this game brings the spotlight on two of the best young players in the game, this series will be won by the team that can get consistent second and third line scoring and solid goaltending. Can Varlamov continue his stellar play in net? Can the Pittsburgh D contain the explosive Caps offense? Lots of questions, but the fact that it took the Caps 7 games to take down an overmatched Ranger squad does not bode well for them in this series.

The View's Pick- Pittsburgh in 6

Detroit versus Anaheim

This is the series that I think offers the most intrigue as the smooth skating Red Wings meet the crash and bang Ducks. We all know the Wings can score, but often overlooked is how well they play D. The Ducks come into this series with a swagger and edge, having knocked off President's Trophy winning San Jose and having been the hottest team in hockey for the last two months. To win this series, Jonas Hiller must stand up against the shot barrage that will come from the Wings, and Anaheim has to stay out of the box. The Wings have to play their game and make Anaheim pay for the penalties we all know they are going to take. Osgood looked good in the first round win over Columbus, but frankly, was not challenged until the deciding game of the series, giving up five goals in that contest.

The View's Pick- Anaheim in 7

Vancouver versus Chicago

Bad blood between these teams, as their last meeting of the regular season resulted in a good old fashioned line brawl. It will be interesting to see if the animosity carries over into the playoffs. I expect Chicago to be physical and try to wear down the Canucks during this series. Vancouver enters any series with a high degree of confidence because Luongo is in net. Key for Vancouver is production from their scorers- the Sedins, Sundin, Burrows, and Wellwood. Bobby Lou does not want to be in a lot of one goal games. Expect the Hawk's to be firing the puck at him all series. Where Khabibulin owned Calgary from a career standpoint, Vancouver has owned him, compiling a 16-6-1 lifetime record when he has been in net.

The View's Pick Chicago in 7

There you have. Any of you that are the betting type would be wise to go exactly opposite of my picks. This should be an interesting and exciting second round. It starts tonight at 8:00 on Versus.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A "Re-View" of the First Round of the Play Off Picks

Now that the first round is complete, it's time to take a look back at the View's first round predictions and see how he fared.

Boston versus Montreal

The View's Pick- Boston in 6

The Outcome- Boston in 4

I really thought the rivalry juices would get flowing in this one and Montreal would give the B's a tussle. Instead, Boston dominated from start to finish to gain the sweep. By the end of the series, Montreal goalie Carey Price looked not only rattled, but frustrated. Montreal has a lot of off season questions to answer now, not the least of which who is going to coach this team that fizzled late in the season and in the play offs.

New Jersey versus Carolina

The View's Pick- New Jersey in 7

The Outcome- Carolina in 7

This series went to the seven games I expected. However, on home ice and in the deciding game, Devils goalie Martin Brodeur looked mortal. He dueled with Carolina's Cam Ward throughout the series, and frankly, the better goalie came out on top. Brodeur was victimized in several of the games by a lack of goal support, and I think this series turned in game six, when the Canes blew out the Devils 4-0.

Washington versus New York

The View's Pick- Washington in 5

The Outcome- Washington in 7

The surprise of this series to me was the Rangers taking the first two games on the Caps home ice. Down 3-1 in the series, the Caps roared back with balanced scoring and the stellar play of Simeon Varlamov in goal. In the 7th and deciding game, Washington exerted their will, limiting the Rangers to 15 shots on goal. Henrik Lunqvist was pulled from two consecutive games and looked pedestrian when it was crunch time.

Pittsburgh versus Philadelphia

The View's Pick- Philadelphia in 7

The Outcome- Pittsburgh in 6

Philadelphia committed more boneheaded plays in this series than in any other first round matchup. While they had the talent to compete with the Pens, they couldn't stay out of the box, and it cost them. Marty Biron's play in net for the Flyers was disappointing, and the Flyers will look back at this series with regret, knowing they let one slip away with their undisciplined play.

Detroit versus Columbus

The View's Pick- Columbus in 7

The Outcome- Detroit in 4

What. Was. I. Thinking? The Jackets were a case study about the lack of play off experience translating into being overwhelmed on the ice. I really thought the BJ's regular season success against the Wings would carry over to the play off series, and I expected this one to be a dandy. Instead, Detroit schooled Columbus in all phases of the game. Steve Mason was under siege in net, and the BJ offense was non-existent until game 4, but it was too little too late.

Chicago versus Calgary

The View's Pick- Chicago in 6

The Outcome- Chicago in 6

Injuries decimated the Flames blueline, as Dion Phaneuf was unable to play in the deciding game 6 and several of the Flames D corp was playing injured. That said, the Hawk's defense stifled the Flames forwards for most of the series, and neither Iginla nor Jokinen could get untracked. Khabibulin continued his mastery of the Flames, running his lifetime record against Calgary to 28-7-1.

Vancouver versus St. Louis

The View's Pick- Vancouver in 6

The Outcome- Vancouver in 4

The Canuckleheads outplayed St. Louis in all four games, although if you looked at the scores, you might not draw that conclusion. Watching the games, however, I never felt that the outcome was in doubt. Luongo was amazing in net, and although the young pups for the Blues competed gamely, they couldn't break Bobby Lou. The Vancouver D played surprisingly well, and the Canucks scoring was balanced. This team could be a surprise in the second round when they meet the Blackhawks (that was not a prediction, by the way).

Anaheim versus San Jose

The View's Pick- Anaheim in 7

The Outcome- Anaheim in 5

Another early play off exit for the Sharks and another off season of bitter disappointment. Talk about under-achieving, the President's Cup winning Sharks were never in this series. Jonas Hiller was superb in net for the Ducks, and the Sharks were not able to match the intensity and the grit that Anaheim brought to the ice. Jumbo Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau continued their disappearing acts in the post season, and no one else on the Sharks squad could step up and pick up the slack. I would suspect that when next season opens, the San Jose squad is going to look completely different than it did in the play offs.

There you have it. Eight series, and the View predicted 5 of the 8 winners- 63% correct, which makes the View glad he isn't making his living as a bookie. I will be back with predictions for the second round, which poses some intriguing matchups to the delight of all hockey fans.

Monday, April 27, 2009

A Potential New Owner In The NHL

Daniel Kaplan of Street and Smith's Sports Business Journal is reporting that the Florida Panthers are in negotiations to merge the team, an arena management company that operates the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, FL, and the rights to the real estate surrounding the arena to publicly traded Sports Properties Acquisition Company (SPAC). The value of the deal is estimated at $230MM, but the real payoff to SPAC is a potential mixed use development that is planned for property around the arena. SPAC went public last year, raising $215MM in an Initial Public Offering, and the terms of the offering were that SPAC had to close at least one deal by January 2010 or the funds from the IPO would be returned to the shareholders. Initially, SPAC had planned to leverage the funds from the IPO to do deals in the $1BB range, but the collapse of the credit markets has quashed that possibility. Currently, only the Green Bay Packers have a form of public ownership in the big four sports leagues, although other teams are owned in part by other large public companies.

Although Broward County owns the arena, Sunrise Sports controls the bulk of the facility's revenue. The arena sits on 139 acres, currently used for parking only. The planned mixed use development is proposed by Sunrise Sports and is called The City of Oz, although development has not begun. In addition to hockey, Sunrise Sports books around 200 events a year at the arena.

The board of SPAC includes Tony Tavares, who moved the Montreal Expos to Washington, D.C. He serves as CEO of SPAC. Board members include Hank Aaron and current Chairman of USA Football Jack Kemp.

There are other ownership arrangements in hockey where outside interests have a majority ownership in a hockey club, most notably Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment where the Ottawa Teachers Pension Plan owns 58% of MLSE, the operator of the Maple Leafs, the Toronto Raptors, the Toronto Marlies AHL hockey club, and the Air Canada Centre where the Leafs play.

All of this poses an interesting scenario. The question is who calls the shots for the operation of the hockey club should this deal be consummated? As a publicly traded entity, SPAC will look for a certain return on its investment. Ostensibly, this will come from the potential development around the arena, but we all know how the real estate market is performing today, and south Florida is especially weak. If the development doesn't come to fruition, the return on investment comes from arena revenues and the revenue generated by the Panthers hockey club. The Panthers haven't made the playoffs since 2000 and have struggled at the gate, ranking 24th out of 30 teams this past season in attendance. So who makes the call about hockey operations? What about contracts? Will it be the GM, or will it be the board of SPAC? All of this points to an interesting scenario playing out in south Florida.

As the economy continues to wither, I would expect to see other ownership groups struggle and look for options to either shore up operations or sell. Phoenix and Montreal are currently in play; Tom Hicks, the owner of the Stars, has run into dire financial straits. Predator fans should be thankful for stability in our local ownership group.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Ticket Drive Update

My son Matt and I got to the ticket drive event last night with about 40 minutes to go until the conclusion. By the time we got there, the crowds had started to thin out, but there were a number of people at customer service buying tickets. I don't know what the sales goal was, but I was told that the Predators had exceeded the goal they had established, and that a large percentage of the buyers were first time buyers. I did meet a couple from Paducah, KY that purchased a full season package, and a number of the buyers were from outside the Nashville metro area. Again, I don't know what the sales goal was, but having surpassed that goal AND selling a number of packages to first time buyers is good news for the Preds.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Ticket Drive Tomorrow at the Sommet

Tomorrow night is the last night to sign up for the Predators 2/20 ticket plan. All buyers of ticket packages have twenty months to pay for two years worth of tickets. Buyers lock in their ticket price for the next two years and have twenty months to pay for their purchase. From 5 to 7 tomorrow night the Preds are hosting a party at the Sommet Center to encourage people to come down and buy their tickets. Preds announcers Pete Weber, Terry Crisp, and Tom Callahan will be there along with Coaches Brent Peterson and Peter Horachek. Fans will be treated to free pizza and cokes and will have photo opportunities with Gnash. This is a great opportunity for fans to purchase tickets and lock in the price of those tickets for the next two seasons. Come out and enjoy the activites and more importantly, renew or purchase your tickets and support the Predators.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

League Attendance and TV Ratings

Deputy NHL Commissioner Bill Daly reported that league attendance for the 2008-09 regular season grew 1.1% to 21.4 million fans. The attendance increase was led by the Chicago Blackhawks, with an average attendance for the just completed regular season of 21,752, a 29.4% increase from the previous season. It is impressive how Rocky Wirtz and the management of the Hawks have re-connected the club back to their fan base in the Windy City and its suburbs. The Washington Capitals had the second largest jump in attendance with an increase of 17% to 18,097; and the Bruins were third in average attendance increases with 17,040, a gain of 10.4% (hat tip to Tripp Mickle of Street and Smith's Sports Business Journal for the numbers).

Perhaps of more interest to hockey fans in America is how the NHL did on the tube. Looking at the numbers on a percentage basis only, one could surmise that the ratings growth of the NHL on television is exceptional. NBC has a 22.2% increase in the average number of viewers for the nine regular season games they broadcast (including the Winter Classic but does not take into account the 10th game of their regular season package, which was broadcast on the last day of the season).Versus had a healthy 13.8% increase in average viewers for the 54 telecasts that had for the recently concluded season (excluding the season opening games in Europe). These percentage increases in viewership look healthy until one looks at the average annual viewer per telecast. For NBC (and these numbers reflect the increased viewership), the average weekly telecast drew 1.62 million viewers per telecast (without the Winter Classic, it would have been 1.1 million viewers); for Versus, the average telecast drew 310,000 viewers per telecast. Compare that with the Canadian broadcasters, of which there are three. CBC Hockey Night in Canada had 52 broadcasts drawing an average of 1 million viewers per telecast, an increase of 4.9%. Rogers Sportsnet had 120 broadcasts drawing an average of 650,000 viewers per telecast, an increase of 7.4%; and TSN had 82 broadcast drawing 451,000 viewers per telecast, an increase of 11.9%. Versus in the U.S. is the primary carrier of weekly hockey games and draws 31% less viewership than the weakest Canadian broadcaster does for an average broadcast. Although Versus is now being added to many cable systems, its coverage in the States is somewhat limited, which affects the total viewership numbers.

So what does this mean for the NHL, its franchises, and the exposure of the game in the U.S? Consider this: an average broadcast night during the regular season in Canada brings in 2.1 million viewers; in the U.S., it is 310,000. For the game to grow- beyond those fans who make the trek to the arena- the exposure in the U.S. market via television coverage has to increase. I am not critical of Versus (and yes, I know there are things we can criticize); I am grateful they have provided an outlet for hockey here. But the reality is that the League lost a monumental amount of exposure when they could not get a new television deal done with ESPN.The reach of Versus in the U.S. is limited while ESPN is nationwide. Additionally, the contract between the NHL and NBC is up for renewal. NBC values the Winter Classic, but frankly it appears not much else about the NHL as evidenced by only ten Sunday broadcasts at the end of the season. Both Versus and NBC have a proclivity to showing teams from the large markets. Part of this is strategic as teams such as the Rangers or Red Wings can draw a number of viewers due to the size of their TV market and their fan base. Part of this is perception. It is presumed that a game involving the Predators or Hurricanes, for instance, will not generate as much fan interest and viewership. Looking at the numbers of the the TV market in Nashville, for example, one could say this is a reasonable assumption. However, I would contend there is compelling hockey being played in these markets and those games can and will draw in fans of the game. Obviously, this is a biased assumption on the part of a Preds fan, but it begs the question "Will the game grow in non-traditional markets if they are ignored by the national broadcasters?" (I am forgoing a mention of the regional broadcasts such as the Predator games on Fox Sports). Can the game that we love grow a national footprint with such limited coverage and coverage of only a few teams? I think it will be difficult at best.

What does this mean for the Predators specifically and the league in general? First, don't expect to see the Preds on many, if any, national broadcasts. I know that occasionally we have been on Versus (one time in each of the last three seasons), but for a fan in another market, it will be rare to see the brand of hockey that the Predators play. This lack of exposure hurts from the standpoint of players and coaches receiving recognition for their efforts, but more importantly, fails to reach the casual fan. For the league, negotiating a viable national TV contract is essential. The game needs exposure in the U.S. from a carrier that has a national footprint. Until then, broadcast revenues to the league will be nominal at best, and interest in the game, for the most part, will be confined to the fan that makes the effort to get to the arena. While the league does a great job of disseminating information through non-traditional channels such as the web and bloggers, getting TV exposure that reaches a broad swath of the sports viewing public is lacking and has to be improved in order to grow the game.

Challenges abound for the league in the coming months as they begin to renegotiate the current TV contracts. Hopefully, for hockey fans everywhere, the exposure will improve and introduce more fans to the game we all love.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Mirtle's Road Trip Photos

As most Pred fans know, James Mirtle, a writer for the Toronto Globe and Mail, traveled to Nashville during the hockey season to catch a couple of Predator games and experience hockey in Music City. James has written three of four articles on hockey in Nashville, and they can be found on his site, From the Rink, which is linked on the right. One of James' co-workers, Alesdaire McKie, joined James on the trip and served as his photojournalist. To see Alesdaire's pictures and read his commentary, go to his site, http;// and click on Road Trip '09. Interesting perspectives and observations on our fair city and hockey in Nashville.

Sunday Playoff Thoughts

Some random ruminations about the playoff games so far:

Detroit's playoff experience is overwhelming the Blue Jackets so far in their matchup. I had thought that the regular season experience and success that the BJ's had against the Wings would carry over in their series. I was wrong. Columbus has yet to get a point from Rick Nash, and the Detroit offense has had Mason under siege. The Jackets have been outscored 8-1 in their two games in JLA, and they have looked confused against the defense of the Wings. The 2-0 hole they are in is going to be difficult to overcome.

The Bruins look like the dominant team they were in the regular season. Montreal is in serious danger of being swept in this series. The B's have physically dominated the Habs and are putting constant pressure on Price, who has looked shaky at best.

The surprise to me is the Rangers 2-0 lead over the Caps. The defense of the Blueshirts has been stellar, holding Alexander the Great off the scoresheet. Lundqvist is the difference in this series, outplaying Theodore and Varlamov. The Ranger offense has been surprisingly effective and efficient.

Khabibulin continues his dominance against the Flames, now running his lifetime record to 24-5-1 against Calgary. The Hawks offense is explosive and has several lines that can score. Couple that with the banged up blueline for the Flames, and one would have to say they are in trouble in this series. If Calgary's top line doesn't start scoring consistently, this could be over quickly.

St. Louis is still trying to solve Luongo. He has been outstanding in net and is getting help from his offense. This is a deadly combination for the Blues, and if they don't hold serve in game 3, this series could be a sweep.

Should Anaheim win again in the Shark Tank, the confidence level of the Sharks will be in negative territory. You have to figure that the pressure of being the one seed in the West coupled with their playoff shortcomings has to be weighing on the Sharks. It will be interesting to see if Joe Thornton and the other top players for the Sharks can produce in this game. I expect a physical war tonight.

Carolina has evened their series with the Devils, but the Devils have suffered some key personnel losses. Jamie Langenbrunner did not make the trip with the team to Carolina due to a severely injured groin, and Jay Pandolfo is banged up. Brodeur in net always gives the Devils a chance, but the injuries are taking a major toll on the Devils.

Can Philadelphia make any more boneheaded plays? Two untimely penalties put the Flyers down two men in the overtime and cost them the game. Philly is the epitome of a team that has great talent yet is so undisciplined in their play, and it costs them dearly. The Pens are more than happy to take advantage of the play of the Flyers. If they continue to play as they have, they will be gone in four.

Other notes: Boston's Milan Lucic has a disciplinary hearing today with Colin Campbell for the cross-check to the head of Maxim Lapierre in yesterday's game with Montreal. Lucic received a match penalty for the cross-check. Paul Kariya is skating for the St. Louis Blues, but is not expected to play today. The Devil's Jamie Langenbrunner is called out for at least two games with his groin injury. Boston lost D Matt Hunwick for the remainder of the playoffs as he had an emergency spleenectomy yesterday.

Hockey nirvana continues with three games this rainy Sunday afternoon and evening. For several teams, their playoff destiny hangs in the balance.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Poile Inks Contract Extension

The Tennessean's John Glennon is reporting that Predators GM David Poile has signed a contract extension through June of 2010. This is good news for Pred fans and squelches the rumors about Poile heading to Minnesota. This eliminates a distraction heading into the off season and the upcoming draft that this team did not need.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

GM Rumors from Minnesota

Now that Minnesota has fired GM Doug Risebrough, rumors have been swirling that Preds GM David Poile could be in the mix for the vacated position in Minnesota. The Forchecker has been following this story and has some good information about these rumors and the facts surrounding the situation with Poile. Follow the link on the right to On the Forecheck to get the latest information.

Default in Big D Revisited

As previously reported, Tom Hicks, owner of the Dallas Stars, the Texas Rangers, and co-owner with George Gillett of the Liverpool Football Club of the English Premier League, has defaulted on a $10MM interest payment that was due to his lenders on the $525MM loan used to purchase the franchises. The $10mm quarterly interest payment was due March 31. The journal is reporting that the Stars and the Rangers are currently unable to fund their operating expenses AND pay the interest payment that is due, and that Hicks is unwilling to continue to cover the losses personally. Darren Rovell of CNBC is reporting that the NHL is giving Hicks and his Hicks Sports Group six months to renegotiate with his lenders, while Major League Baseball offers no such protection in the event of a default. The largest single loan is to Galatioto Sports Partners of New York, who are owed $100MM. Hicks' partner in the Liverpool Football Club, George Gillett, is currently rumored to have put his ownership interest in the Montreal Canadiens on the market as well.

Hicks' strategy is unusual to say the least. This is an aggressive tactic that could backfire should the lenders prove to be uncooperative. The degree of cooperation from the lenders will probably be a function more of the credit markets and the ability to secure funding rather than the strength of Hicks' negotiating position. The ostensible out for Hicks is his desire to sell up to 49% of both the Stars and the Rangers to minority investors. In this market, I would frankly be surprised to see many takers for a minority position in a franchise that is in a tenuous financial position. Couple that fact with a group of less than happy lenders, and how this situation plays out will bear watching.

All this points out the necessity for a franchise to operate in a fiscally prudent manner, not only from the management of contracts, but management of all operating expenses. As a fan, it is easy to say "spend the money" and buy talent to put on the ice. Fans of the Stars and Rangers must feel a sense of dread as they have seen their teams spend large sums of money for talent and now find them in dire financial straits, worrying about the future of their franchise. Kudos are in order for the Predators management for operating the team in a fiscally sound manner. Yes, it is frustrating at times to see talent go to other teams willing to pay the money. Imagine the frustration every Pred fan would fell right now if our ownership group were in default and the future of the franchise was once again in question.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The View's Fearless First Round Playoff Picks

Hockey nirvana begins tonight with the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, and the View is here with his fearless first round picks. Let's start with the Eastern Conference.

Boston vs Montreal

The Habs centennial season has been disappointing as the Canadiens struggled after a strong start. Off ice turmoil has embroiled the team and the on ice performance has been spotty. Boston had a strong season, finishing one point behind the Sharks in the race for the President's Cup with 116 points. Tim Thomas has been stellar in goal and the Bruins have had solid play and consistent scoring from all lines. Carey Price is streaky in goal for the Habs, and I believe his confidence is fragile.

The Pick: Boston in 6

New Jersey vs Carolina

Carolina got on a hot streak at the end of the season to capture the 6th seed in the east. Carolina brings balanced scoring to this matchup, with Whitney, Staal, Ruutu, Brind'Amour, and Cole leading the attack. Cam Ward will man the pipes for the 'Canes and comes in with a .916 save percentage and a 2.44 GAA. For the Devils, the venerable Marty Brodeur will be in the net after missing much of the season due to injury. The Devils are led on offense by Zach Parise, and have an abundance of playoff experience in their line up. I think this comes down to goalie play between two teams that appear to be evenly matched.

The Pick: New Jersey in 6

Washington vs New York

This is a match up of one of the most explosive offensive teams in the NHL against a team that that is anchored by "King" Henrik Lundqvist in goal. The Caps have not won a playoff series since 1998, and although we are aware of their offensive prowess, their playoff fate will hinge on the play of Jose Theodore in net. I look for Lundqvist to face a lot of shots and for the offense of Washington to overwhelm the defense of New York, while the Caps D limits the Ranger offense.

The Pick: Washington in 5

Pittsburgh vs Philadelphia

Hide the women and children for this one. Philly lost home ice advantage on the last day of the regular season by virtue of a loss to the Rangers, and this could be a deciding factor in the series. This should be a fan's delight to watch as the skill of the Pens is matched against the grit of the Flyers. Philly has some offensive horsepower in its own right with Carter and Richards leading the way. This series comes down to goal tending as Marty Biron duels with Marc-Andre Fleury.

The Pick: Philadelphia in 7

And now on to the Western Conference match ups:

Detroit vs Columbus

Perennial playoff participant Red Wings against playoff virgin Columbus- experience versus enthusiasm. The skill of the Wings up front is beyond question. What is the BIG question in Motown is the D and the goal tending. Outside of the pairing of Lidstom and Rafalski, Detroit's D is average at best. Osgood has been given the starting nod for the Wings, but his play has been shaky, especially in the latter half of the season. For the BJ's, rookie goaltending phenom Steve Mason anchors the Jackets while scoring machine Rick Nash leads the way up front. There has been much talk about the inexperience of the Jackets running headlong into the pressure of the playoffs. Two words: Ken Hitchcock. His experience is a calming force for the Jackets.

The Pick: Blue Jackets in 7

San Jose vs Anaheim

The battle of California- in the playoffs- that has been long awaited. Bad blood exists between these two teams and I expect a physical and chippy series (after all, this is Anaheim we're talking about). San Jose has big Joe Thornton leading the way up front, and you have to wonder if Jumbo Joe isn't starting to feel some pressure from the Shark's under achieving ways in recent playoffs. I look for Hiller to get the start in net for the Ducks, and I expect the experienced blueliners for Anaheim to exert their will in this series (it helps to have Francois Beauchamin returning for the Ducks). Look for the Duck offense to effective and steady.

The Pick: Anaheim in 7

Vancouver vs St. Louis

The Blues made a remarkable run to the playoffs and gained the 6th seed in the West. This team has shown amazing resiliency, having overcome a myriad of injuries. The Blues are expected to have Paul Kariya back and available for the playoffs. Their young pups have matured this season and played well, and Chris Mason has played like we all thought he could once he was named the starter. The Canucks bring the offensive firepower of the Sedins, along with Mats Sundin and Kyle Wellwood. Roberto Luongo has had an outstanding season in net, and this team turned their season around after a lackluster January. The Canuck offense will exert some serious pressure on the Blues D.

The Pick: Vancouver in 6

Chicago vs Calgary

I think this series will be very entertaining as two teams that are very similar collide. Chicago and Calgary both have capable scoring from their forwards. The Chicago D is solid and active, while the Flames have dealt recently with some injuries on their blue line to Sarich and Regher. This series will hinge on the play of the goal tenders, and Nikolai Khabibulin has owned Calgary throughout his career with a 22-5-1 record lifetime. I have to wonder if Kiprusoff hasn't been overworked by Mike Keenan during the regular season, as he looks to be wearing down.

The Pick: Chicago in 6

There you have it- the View's fearless (and some might say brainless) first round playoff predictions. Agree? Disagree? Feel free to leave a comment and tell me your thoughts.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

NHL Tweetup Nashville

Remember- the NHL Tweetup is tomorrow night at the Closing Bell Wall Street Pub at 1524 Demonbreun St. from 5-9. Buddy Oakes from Preds on the Glass will be broadcasting from the location beginning at 7:00. This is a great chance to meet with Predator fans and reminisce about the season. You do not have to be a Twitter user to attend. The View will be there (along with Mrs. View), and it is sure to be a great time. Stop by and see some fellow Predator fans and enjoy the fellowship.

2009 Draft

The 2009 NHL Draft Lottery was held this afternoon, and the Preds will be drafting 11th. The Preds have 12 picks in this year's draft in a draft that is expected to be rich with talent, and it will be interesting to see if the Preds will retain all draft choices or use some of the picks to work some trades.

The "Re-Views" 2009 Season Awards

It's time for the "Re-View" awards for the 2009 Predators hockey season, a (somewhat) lighthearted look back on the season that was. Without further ado, here are the 2009 "Re-View" awards and the winners:


The 2008-09 Nashville Predators. After a lackluster sub-500 season at the All Star break, the team caught fire and finished the season 20-11-5 to get to the brink of the playoffs. The Pred nation will spend the summer wondering "what if...?" we had won a couple of those early season games.


To Dan Ellis. Dan was victimized on numerous occasions by a porous D in front of him, and it was reflected in his GAA and his win totals. Granted, Danny could have played better in spots, but at times it looked as if our D expected him to clean up every mistake on the ice.


To Shea Weber. No doubt that Webs has a rocket shot from the blue line. Ask Marty Erat.


This one was close, and I have to give props to both the finalists, but the winner is Wade Belak. Jordin Tootoo made his case all year long, showing not only a willingness and deftness when he dropped the gloves but courage as well, but Wade Belak emerged as a quietly efficient enforcer for the Preds. That quietness disappeared when a wicked left from Belak felled one of the NHL's storied fighters in Donald Brashear. Honorable mention goes to Shea Weber, especially for the pounding he gave Andreas Lilja.


The Preds coaching staff, Barry Trotz accepting. Barry will probably not even be a finalist for the Jack Adams Award, given by the NHL to the Coach of the Year, and that is an injustice. Trotzy and this staff do more with less than any other team in the NHL. He has done a masterful job of squeezing everything out of his talent possible, and the team bought into his credo of "Shut up and play" in the second half of the season.


To Scott Nichol. After a brutal (and uncalled) shot to the head against Vancouver, Scooter was absent the ice for the next 38 games. The severity of his concussion is evidenced by the number of games he missed. The team missed his energy and his presence in the locker room.


To Joel Ward. Wardo is such a great story this past season- signed to a tryout contract, he was a major contributor to the Preds, recording 35 points (17G, 18A) and emerged as a physical presence. Hopefully, the Preds can re-sign him in the offseason.


Tie. Steve Sullivan and Trace Kimmler. Sully battled back after missing two years due to a severe back injury to become a major contributor both on and off the ice to the Preds playoff push. Trace Kimmler is courageously fighting a rare form of cancer, and has shown a remarkable spirit that belies his 13 years on this earth. Both of these individuals have personified heart. And Courage.

There you have it, the first annual "Re-View" awards. Next year, the View is planning to post his year end awards long after the playoffs.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Stanley Cup Tournament Brackets

The first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs will begin on Wednesday, and now hockey fans everywhere will have an opportunity to fill out a bracket and follow their predictions much as college basketball fans have for years. Thanks to the guys at Pensblog, and new web site has been created that allows visitors to go in on-line and create their brackets, and all for a good cause. Participants are asked to make a voluntary donation to the Mario Lemieux Foundation when they fill out their bracket. To participate, go to:

The View is completing his bracket today and will share the results after the playoffs.

A Reminder: Remember the NHL Tweetup Nashville is on Wednesday from 5-9 at the Closing Bell Wall Street Pub on Demonbreun. Go to : to sign up. You don't have to be a Twitter user to attend, and it will be a great way to meet with some fellow Pred fans.

Lots of things still happening in the Pred Nation. Over the Weekend, Dirk Hoag had a great analysis of our free agents. Follow the link on the right to On the Forecheck to take a look. Tonight is Preds On The Glass blog talk radio, hosted by Buddy and Jackson Oakes. Follow the link for POTG on the right and click on the blog radio link on their site.

The View is assembling his end of the year awards for the Preds. Stay tuned for that post in the next few days.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Trotz to Coach Team Canada

Darren Dreger of TSN is reporting that Predators Head Coach Barry Trotz has been named as an assistant for team Canada in the upcoming World Hockey Championship in Switzerland. Team Canada will be led by Sabres Head Coach Lindy Ruff. Congratulations to Coach Trotz for this honor and recognition of his efforts behind the Preds bench.

A Very Blessed Easter

The View wishes a very blessed Easter to all. May the joy and hope of this day be yours for the coming year.

Saturday, April 11, 2009


Some random thoughts on the day after:

Kudos to Barry Trotz and his staff for the coaching job they did this season. Consider all the obstacles they faced- the loss of Radulov and his scoring and the numerous injuries this team endured- and many teams would not have been competitive much less vying for a playoff spot. Trotzy got the most out of this group, proving that the team was greater than the sum of its parts. The team took on the persona of the Head Coach- "just shut up and play", and play they did.

The play of Jason Arnott after returning from a concussion was nothing but heroic. Arnie put the team on his back and nearly carried them into the playoffs. The Captain led by example, and showed that he was worthy of the "C". Arnie netted 33 goals, a Predator scoring record, and had 57 points in 65 games this season.

Shea Weber has emerged as a force on the blue line. Webs scored his 23 goal of the year last night, and his cannon shot from the back end is fearsome. His steady physical presence solidified the Preds blue line and his is an emerging star.

The best bang for the buck had to be Joel Ward. Wardo signed a tryout contract with the Preds, and stuck with the club. He was consistently strong on the boards and in front of the net, and tallied 35 points for the Preds (17G, 18A). Great to see a really good guy have success in this league.

The D corp continued to be the strength of this club. Along with Weber, Ryan Suter, Greg Zanon, Dan Hamhuis, Kevin Klein, and Greg de Vries had a solid campaign. This will continue to be the strength of this team for years to come.

Scoring was and will continue to be an issue for this team. For continued success, scoring from our forwards has to improve. After Arnie's 33 goals, the second leading forward scorer for the Preds was David Legwand with 20 goals (granted, Sully didn't have a full season). Production from our best players has to ramp up next season.

What can you say about Pred fans? The 7th man rose to challenge on many occasions and practically willed the team to victory. I have had the good fortune to watch games in many barns, and there are no better fans.

We are fortunate to have a broadcast tandem like Pete Weber and Terry Crisp. I have listened to a lot of broadcasters for other teams, and these guys are some of the best.

Pred fans have a lot of reasons to feel good about the past season. Although it didn't end the way we wanted, we can take solace in the fact that the team played with heart and never quit; we have emerging stars and returning talent; and we have an exceptional coaching staff. I was talking to my good friend Claudia Weber this morning, and she made an excellent point about this season. She said we have a number of young guys on the roster, and they have been through an arduous campaign trying to get to the playoffs. They now know what it takes to be successful, to get to the post season, and the abject disappointment of falling short. This experience, painful as it is, will serve this group well in the coming seasons.

There are still a lot of hockey related matters that will interest Pred fans. What will we do with our unrestricted free agents? What will we do in the draft? Will we be active in free agency this summer? Questions to be answered that will shape this team for next season. I will address those in future posts.

Take heart Pred fans. We have a number of positives on which to build. The disappointment of the morning after will translate to a hunger for success in the future.

The Harsh Reality of Life

While all Preds fans are still hurting over the loss last night, we are given a stark reminder that life in all its sometimes harsh nature rolls on. Our neighbors in Murfreesboro have endured untold destruction from yesterday's tornadoes, suffering loss of life and vast economic devastation. I have friends, as I am sure that some of you do, that have been touched by yesterday's tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers are with those that are suffering. If you would like to help, you can contact the Heart of Tennessee chapter of the American Red Cross at (615) 893-4722, or visit

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Wheels Come Off

These are the words that I didn't want to write. The season is over. In a game the Preds had to win to keep their flickering playoff hopes alive, the wheels came off and the Preds were rocked by the Wild 8-4, effectively ending their push to the playoffs. Two empty netters, three power play goals, a breakaway goal, and a shorthanded goal were given up tonight by a team that frankly just looked out of gas.

The disappointment that I and all Preds fans feel is palpable. I didn't want the season to end, especially not like this. It leaves a bitter taste. I can salve my wounded feelings somewhat by the fact that this team never quit. This team never let down. This team showed heart and played with character. At the All Star break no one thought we would be here at the end of the season. This team took us on a amazing ride in an attempt to get to the post season. No, I didn't want it to end, but I take pride in the heart, the effort, and the drive this team exhibited.

Thank you, boys, for the ride.

THE Game

It comes down to this- 81 games in the book and a MUST win game tonight in Minnesota to close out the regular season. The Preds currently sit in the 8th spot in the Western Conference tied with St. Louis but holding the tie breaker with the number of wins. The Preds have to win tonight and hope that St. Louis drops one of its last two games (hopefully tonight in Columbus). All we can do is take care of what happens tonight on the ice. This team has shown an amazing amount of heart and grit and has battled against long odds in the sprint to the post season. Tonight is one more opportunity to put that heart and grit on display.

Nashville enters the contest with the Wild still shorthanded with Legwand, Erat, Pihlstrom, and Belak out of the lineup. Minnesota will be without Derek Boogard, Pierre Marc-Bouchard, and Nick Shultz.

The Captain, Jason Arnott, has put this team on his back and carried them to this point. It's obvious that we must continue to have production from the top line, but we also have to have production from the other lines as well. Good to see Scotty Nichol get on the score sheet and we need others to step up as well. Pekka Rinne has to continue his solid play and the D has to be sound. Xcel Energy Center has been another of those house of horrors for the Preds, with the Preds posting a 4-11 record in 15 trips. Long odds. So be it. Heart overcomes long odds.

You left it all on the ice last night, boys. Time to summon up the courage, the drive, the heart for one more victory. Screw the odds. You have been bred for this moment. It is your time.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Still Alive

The Preds came back from the brink of a loss that would have all but ended their playoff hopes by beating the Evil Empire 4-3 in a shootout. Down 3-2, the Preds scored with 59 seconds left to tie the game at three. Pekka Rinne was stellar again in the shootout, stopping three of four Detroit shooters, while Ville Koistinen scored the goal to extend the shootout. Jason Arnott had a monster game, capping it off by beating Osgood five hole for the winner. With the win, the Preds now have 88 points and sit in the 8th spot in the Western Conference by advantage of the tie breaker over St. Louis, who plays tomorrow night. The Preds finish their season tomorrow night in the Xcel Energy Center against the Minnesota Wild.

This game was not for the faint of heart. The odds were stacked against the Predators: coming off a disheartening loss to Chicago; playing without key players; playing in a barn that had been one of the toughest for the Preds to get a win and against a solid opponent. Well, the odds be damned. This is a team that defied the odds, a team that wouldn't quit, a team that exhibited heart, grit, and character all night. After falling behind 1-0, Scott Nichol recorded his first goal since returning to play from a concussion to tie the game at 1. The Preds fell behind 3-1 after Nick Lidstrom scored on a power play and Johan Franzen scored after the Preds turned the puck over in their zone. Jason Arnott scored to bring the Preds back to 3-2, and with 59 seconds left, Joel Ward scored off a rebound in a goal mouth scramble. This set up the Captain's shoot out heroics, and the Preds came away with two points that were essential to keeping their playoff hopes alive. Pekka Rinne kept the Preds in the game all night, most critically turning away Pavel Datsyuk from point blank range in overtime. With this win, the Preds for the first time take a season series from Detroit with a 4-2 record.

Tonight the Preds left it all on the ice, playing with desperation and grit. Look at this team, and you see heart personified. Look at this team, and you see a group of guys that have been bred to compete, bred to do what it takes to win. Tomorrow night, they have to summon up the heart, the will, the grit to win again. The odds are against you, boys. You have defied those odds all season. Defy them one more time.

Defy the Odds

Sometimes you look at a situation and decide the circumstances, or the odds, are just so against you that you walk away. Just quit. Sometimes you look at that same situation, same circumstances, and you and you strike a defiant pose*, get your back up and say "let's go". The hill is steep, the climb is arduous, but there is no quit. Welcome to the world of our beloved Predators. The hill they are climbing to the playoffs has nearly gone vertical; the odds are against them; the pundits have ruled them out. So be it. Win or lose tonight, this team has shown that they will not back down, regardless of circumstances. I expect the maximum effort from the boys tonight even though the circumstances are less than favorable; I expect the character, heart, and grit that we have seen on this sprint to the playoffs to once again be on display. Skate off the ice tonight boys, knowing that you have left it all out there. Be defiant toward the odds.

Mike Babcock has not made his call for the starting goalie tonight, but it is expected to be Chris Osgood. Ozzie is the most honest goalie in the NHL, as he has never stolen a game. Let's hope that continues tonight. The Wings get back Brian Rafalski after missing several games with a groin strain. The Preds are not expected to have any changes to their lineup tonight as Pihlstrom, Belak, Legwand, and Erat are all out. Rinne is in net for the Preds.

The boys no longer control their destiny. They do control their play. Heart and grit, 100% effort tonight, and let the chips fall where they may.

* My son Matt and Gnash trying to strike a defiant pose

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

This Hurts

A disastrous second period doomed the Predators tonight as the Preds lost to Chicago 4-2. Up 1-0 at the end of one period, the Preds gave up goals on the first two shots of the second and could never mount enough offense to overcome the Blackhawks. This hurts, as St. Louis is currently up on Phoenix 3-1 late in the second period. Now we have to win the last two on the road and get some help. Not much else to say, except this hurts. Badly.

The Sprint to the Finish

Three games left in what has been a regular season ending sprint for the Predators. The mad dash to playoff positioning that began after the All Star break has now come down to to the final stretch at the tape. The Predators have amazingly survived injuries that have felled lesser teams; they have endured and actually prospered with a less than potent offense; and they have battled with heart to get to this final sprint to a playoff home. Three games. Three opportunities to put it all on the ice. Three opportunities to sprint away from your competitors.

The Hawks come in having gone 6-2-2 in their last 10 games, while the Preds are 5-2-3. The Preds lead the season series with Chicago 3-2. The Hawks will be without Patrick Sharp and Brent Sopel; Troy Brouwer is questionable for tonight. Ryan Jones could return to the line up tonight and will be a game time decision. Antti Pihlstom, Wade Belak, and Marty Erat are out.

The finish line is in sight, but the legs are heavy and the lungs are on fire. The easy choice is to slow down, yet the separation between the winner of a sprint and all other runners is only hundreths of a second. The extra work in the corners, winning battles on the boards, going to the net- digging down deep- are the last push in the sprint to finish, the things that create the margin of victory. Let's get out and run boys.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Big Brother Beats the Blue Jackets

The Preds continued their home domination of Columbus, although it took a shootout to down the BJ's 5-4. Down 3-1 in the second period, it truly looked grim for the home team. But big players show up in big games, and after an 11 game absence due to a concussion, Jason Arnott was the biggest player tonight. The Captain scored twice in the second to tie the game going into the third. More importantly, Arnott's play changed the momentum of the contest back to the Preds. After Radek Bonk put the Preds in the lead 4-3, Columbus came back to tie the game and force overtime. After a scoreless OT, Pekka Rinne was stellar in the shootout, stopping all three shooters for Columbus. The much maligned Ville Koistinen sealed the win with a beautiful backhander for the only score in the shootout and the Preds picked up a precious two points. They are now tied with St. Louis in points, but hold the 8th spot by virtue of having one more win than the Blues.

This is a game that could have easily fallen in to the loss column. After a Shea Weber goal tied the game at one, Columbus answered with the next two goals, both of which came from defensive breakdowns in front of Rinne. This was the time of the game where someone had to step up for the Preds, and the line of Arnott, Sullivan, and Dumont did just that, firing pucks at Steve Mason all night. Arnie's goals resulted from going to the net, and he was rewarded for his efforts. This line clicked all night, moving the puck well and creating numerous scoring chances. The Preds seemed to feed off that energy, playing more physical than the BJ's, and in one stretch of the third, holding Columbus without a shot on goal for nearly ten minutes. Weber and Hamhuis were monsters on the blue line tonight, and it is difficult to put a value on the physical play that Jordin Tootoo brings every game. His checks forced several turnovers and he was a disruptive presence to the opposing team.

A word about Mike Commodore's crosscheck and subsequent chirping at Radek Bonk at the end of the overtime period. That was chickens#*t. Commodore was owned all night and was a minus 1, and decides to take a cheap shot when he knows there is no opportunity for retribution. Very manly indeed.

And now a word about Ville Koistinen. Obviously, he has spent some time in the doghouse, and it would have been easy to sulk about that fact. Instead, Koistinen excelled when he was given the opportunity. Koistenin started the game as a forward and moved back to the blue line pairing up with Kevin Klein. Koistinen was steady on the blue line and played well on the power play. Barry Trotz said in his post game remarks about Koistinen that as a player, you never know when it will be your time to step up. Tonight was Koistinen's time. After riding the bench for a significant amount of time this season, he stepped on the ice and played a solid game. His shootout winner was a thing of beauty. A great contribution from a guy that hasn't had a lot of opportunities.

Again, what can you say about the Preds 7th man. Once again, you came up big when the team needed you.

The Preds now have 86 points and sit in 8th place. The season is now a three game season for the Preds. Every game requires heart, character, and grit. Leave it all on the ice boys. This is your time. We believe in you.

Default In Big D

Tom Hicks company, Hicks Sports Group, has defaulted on $525MM in loans. HSG owns the Dallas Stars and the Texas Rangers, and the loans were used for the operation of the two teams. Hicks says that he has not made the interest payment on a $350MM term loan, a $100MM second lien, and a $75MM line of credit to force the bank syndicate to renegotiate terms, grant HSG access to the full line of credit, and access to an interest reserve account. Hicks says this will in no way affect the day to day operation of the two teams, and that he is now willing to sell up to 49% of each team to minority partners to bring more cash in to the businesses. Hicks indicated that he did not want to bring in minority partners, but needed to so he could repay the loans, and that the downturn in the economy had forced these actions. One has to wonder if the economy is going to force other franchises to look at similar measures. At the least, the financial aspects of all teams- from contracts to day to day operating expenses- are going to come under closer scrutiny.

Windy City Wipeout

The Preds mash unit competed gamely against a Blackhawk squad trying to lock down a playoff spot for the first time in seven years, eventually falling 3-1. The team played with heart, but let's face it, the offense was anemic and rarely challenged the Hawks. Cal O'Reilly continues to prove that he belongs with the big club, netting the Preds lone goal. Other than that, Khabiboulin was able to see the puck pretty cleanly and was not called on to make many difficult saves. The Preds will face another difficult challenge tonight back in their own barn as they play the streaking Blue Jackets. It goes without saying that we have to have a solid effort and get these two points to have any shot at making the post season. Good news (finally) for the Preds as John Glennon of the Tennessean is reporting that Jason Arnott will be back in the lineup tonight. We desperately need him

Thoughts from the road. The United Center is a huge edifice about three miles from the heart of downtown Chicago. There is not much around the UC, so games there do not have the energy that you see in downtown Nashville before a game. Once inside the UC, you find a non-descript venue that is surprisingly mundane. We were fortunate to have a box for last night's game- on the 8th level of the arena. I don't want to say we were high up, but the planes landing at O'Hare sometimes obscured our view. Once inside the arena itself, you realize just how ginormous this place really is. It holds 22,000 for hockey, and it was full last night. The sight lines are good, but when you are at the top, the players look tiny on the ice. The fans are surprisingly laid back. I thought there would be more energy considering the Hawks are heading to the playoffs for the first time since 2001, but the crowd was quieter than I expected. They did get cranked up late in the third when it became apparent that they had the game won; prior to that they seemed to sit on their hands. About half the crowd wore Blackhawk sweaters (I even saw an old Steve Sullivan sweater on a fan), and the Chicago fans I talked with know their hockey. Just not a very energetic crowd.

Four games left. We need some help, and we need to take care of business on the ice. Time for our 7th man to crank it up tonight. Time for the boys to bring their best effort.

Friday, April 3, 2009

On The Road to Chicago

The View is getting ready to leave for Chicago to watch the Milwaukee Admirals, uh, Nashville Predators take on the Blackhawks in another critical contest for the Preds. Last night's action did not favor the Preds, as St. Louis bested Detroit and Anaheim beat the Canuckleheads in a shootout. This leaves the Preds in 9th, one point behind St. Louis and two points behind Anaheim. The Preds have five games left, starting tonight, and ten vital points are in play. At a minimum, I believe the Preds have to win 4 of these 5 games and get a little help from the teams in front of them. Time to start tonight.

Remember the Wine Tasting and Silent Auction tonight. Tickets are still available to this outstanding event that benefits the Predators Foundation. Gerry Helper and Rebecca Ward have put together an evening that has something for everyone and benefits the community through the Predators Foundation. Mrs. View will be representing there tonight (please take it easy on the credit card, Sweetie).

A bunch of new faces in the lineup. Some battled tested veterans. And no team vying for a playoff spot going to give us a break. Five crucial games. Time to shut up and play, boys.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Hobey Baker Finalist

Congratulations to Colin Wilson, Sophomore at Boston University and first round pick of the Predators in 2008, who has been named as a finalist for the Hobey Baker award. The Hobey Baker Memorial Award is awarded to the top collegiate hockey player. In 41 games this year, Wilson has 15 goals and 37 assists to lead the Terriers to the Hockey East regular season and playoff championships, as well as a berth in the Frozen Four, collegiate hockey's championship. The criteria for the award include: strength of character on and off the ice; excelling in all phases of the game; sportsmanship; and scholastic achievement. The winner will be announced during the Frozen Four tournament on April 10th. A very nice honor indeed for a future Predator.

Character Personified

Congratulations to Steve Sullivan, who is the Pred's nominee for the 2009 Masterson Award. This award is given to the player that shows dedication to the game of hockey; perseverance; and character. I think that about describes Sully and his amazing comeback. John Glennon of the Tennessean has a good article in this morning's sports pages about Sully and his comeback.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

An Update on Trace

Trace has successfully come through surgery. You can follow his progress here:

Foolin' Around

April 1st- the day that every prankster eagerly awaits. Over the years, I have been punked pretty good and have managed to dish out my fair share of tomfoolery (don't know why, but I love that word). NY Times columnist Stu Hackel relates some of the shenanigans of Paul Wieland, then Director of Communications for the Buffalo Sabres. Wieland was abetted by a young hire in his first front office job, our own Gerry Helper, the Director of Communications and Development for the Preds. Follow the link to read the story (hat tip to Paul Kukla):

What's Really Important

I woke up this morning still feeling kinda bummed about the results of last night's game. My knees, as usual, were stiff and hurt. I knew I had a difficult situation to deal with at work, and I was not looking forward to having to do so. In my world, my day was not going to be that great, and I was grousing about it. Shortly after I got to work this morning, I received an e-mail from my friend Rebecca Ward with the Predators Foundation. Rebecca's e-mail was a slap in my face that brought me back to the reality of what is really important. Trace Kimler is a young man who, at 13, faces far bigger problems than being disappointed in the results of a game, or some minor aches and pains, or problems at work. Trace instead is staring face to face with an aggressive and rare form of cancer- Ewing's Sarcoma. The tumor is located in his left scapula, and he is having surgery to remove the scapula this morning. News Channel 5 has been following Trace's story, and they have an excellent piece on their website about him and how the Predators organization has supported Trace. Follow this link to read about this courageous and exceptional young man:

Trace is going through a battle that dwarfs a playoff race or the daily problems we all face. Godspeed, Trace. Keep up your good fight. You are in our prayers.