The Hockey News resident troll, Ken Campbell, has decided that he wants to rain on the feel good parade that is the Nashville Predators and their recently completed successful season. Campbell is quick to point out that although the Predators got to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time in their history, there are two more rounds to be played before you can claim the Cup.
Thank you, Captain Obvious.
I guess at The Hockey News, that qualifies as in-depth reporting.
Campbell goes on to to "report" that the Predators are more successful than the Atlanta Thrashers; that our fan base is small, albeit, devoted; and that interest in our team is a short term spike and will not stick. Oh yes, there is his obligatory opinion, stated as fact, that the Predators will continue to have trouble selling tickets.
The Predators ended the season with a 7.3% uptick in average attendance, third best in the NHL. Season ticket sales and corporate sponsorships are noticeably up over previous years. All positive momentum, which counts for nothing in Campbell's insular little world.
Campbell cites the Predators average attendance of 16,142 as being good for 21st in the league. No mention that this is 94% of the capacity of our barn, or the fact that our facility seats 17,113. 94% capacity is good for 19th in the NHL, and ahead of franchises such as Dallas, Colorado, and New Jersey, to name a few.
Campbell also cites the fact that it took the Predators 13 seasons to get to the second round, while Philadelphia won the Cup after 8 seasons of existence and the Islanders won their first cup after 9 seasons. This is a fine example of Campbell's selective memory: there were far fewer teams in 1975 or in 1981, and the odds were more favorable for a team to win a Cup earlier in their existence. Oh, and there is no mention of the fact that since the lockout, the Predators are in the top five teams in the NHL in wins in the regular season.
That tickets were available before our first home game of the second round are also mentioned as a black mark against the Predators. He failed to mention that every home game of the playoffs was a sellout.
Again, I guess that qualifies as "reporting" for The Hockey News.
It would be easy for those in Smashville to direct their anger at Ken Campbell.
That would be a waste of energy. Why direct anger at an irrelevancy?
Campbell lumps the Predators in with the Lightning, the Ducks, and the Hurricanes as franchises that have, in his mind, not properly received the grand sport of hockey.
And therein is the problem that Campbell represents.
Yes, he is an irrelevant troll. He probably can't find Nashville on the map. Yet as much of a troll as he is, he represents the view of many of the hockey pundits and cognoscenti. These "purists" resent the fact that "non-traditional" markets have hockey teams, and it chaps their ass that these non-traditional markets are successful and doing hockey their way, without the blessing of people like him. These "experts" will continue to disparage hockey in Nashville and other markets they do not deem worthy to have a hockey club.
This attitude has been pervasive among many in the hockey world north of the 49th parallel. That view was changed when many of the Canadian media made their way to Nashville for the second round games against Vancouver. The energy and intensity of the fan base and the quality of the play of the Predators was impressive to them. Nashville was revealed to not only be a hockey town, but a serious hockey market that was doing things the right way.
And you and I know that a small minded person like Campbell chaffed at those realities.
The perception of many in the hockey world was changed when they came here. They realize that this market is here to stay and hockey will be successful in Nashville. Those are facts that will not change.
For those that are small minded trolls like Campbell, no manner of success in Nashville or other "non-traditional" markets will ever change their world view.
Which calls to mind the wise old adage, "Don't argue with idiots. They will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience."