Sunday, June 30, 2013

Predators Steal Seth Jones With the 4th Pick at the NHL Entry Draft

The Nashville Predators are a team that has been built by the draft. Draft solid players, be patient with their development, and at the right time, bring them up to the NHL.

And they have had some success with that model. Shea Weber, Pekka Rinne, and Kevin Klein are some examples.

The Predators have shown proficiency with drafting and developing goaltenders and defensemen. That has been a strength of the scouting staff and the coaches at all levels.

While the team has enjoyed some success developing their young players, there is no doubt that the team has been average at best in drafting and developing forwards. This fact is confirmed by the Predators scoring struggles last season and for most of their history.

Take a look at the forwards on the roster last season. The leading goal scorer for the team had 11 goals, and there was no forward that was a consistent scoring threat. There was no forward that was a scary offensive threat to the opposing team. There was no forward that could dominate a shift, much less a game.

The 2013 Entry Draft offered the Predators the opportunity to add a player that could change that dynamic. Picking fourth, the Predators were expected to have a choice of an impact forward if the draft played out as many pundits thought it would.

About those expectations...

Seth Jones, the putative number one pick, was expected to go to the Colorado Avalanche, who desperately needed help on the blue line. Instead, the Avalanche selected a forward, Nathan MacKinnon. Florida selected the player many thought would fall to the Predators, Alexander Barkov. Tampa Bay selected Jonathan Drouin, another dynamic forward.

Surprisingly, the projected number one pick fell to the Predators at the fourth pick.

And Seth Jones is now a Predator.

Jones brings to the Predators a smooth skating, solid presence on the blue line. He has good hockey sense and will continue to grow into his frame. His physical edge is a plus, and having the opportunity to be coached by Phil Housley, who was recently added to the Predators staff, will be a critical and positive for his development. And having Shea Weber to mentor him will only elevate his game.

There is no doubt that Jones was the best player available when the Predators went on the clock. And Predators General manager had said there would be no hesitation to draft Jones should he fall to the fourth pick.

With the Predators desperately needing scoring, there are some that will be disappointed with the selection of Jones. However, the addition of Jones gives the Predators some options. If he is not NHL ready this season, he soon will be. I believe that Jones will be on the opening day roster. If so, the Predators blue liners will be Weber, Roman Josi, Kevin Klein, Victor Bartley, Hal Gill, Jones, and either Ryan Ellis or Mattias Ekholm.

Jones will bring competition for a roster spot and playing time to the Predators defenders. The Predators have not extended Jonathan Blum, a blue liner that just never panned out. Hal Gill is in the twilight of his career and is playing limited minutes. Ekholm has an opportunity to show that he belongs on the roster. And Ryan Ellis should be concerned. The undersized defenseman could possibly be trade bait to get the Predators some offensive help.

Jones will not supplant Roman Josi as Weber's partner on the blue line. This pair showed good chemistry and their game is very complimentary. Both Jones and the Predators have the opportunity and luxury of easing him into the lineup. I would expect to see Jones in a third pairing to get him introduced to the NHL game.

The Predator philosophy has always been to build the team from the net out. Integral to the success of the team has been a corps of defenders that can shut down the opponents scoring. For the most, the Predators have been successful in adding and developing the players that can play outstanding defense.

With the addition of Seth Jones, the Predators have added another building block for their success.

Friday, June 28, 2013

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

We are all rightly shocked and offended at the invasion of our privacy by our government through the data collection efforts of the National Security Agency. Done in secret, your on-line activity and cell phone information, including location, have been surreptitiously gathered by the National Security Agency. Here is another agency that you should know about: the Federal Data Services Hub. Haven't heard of them? Not many people have. The FDSH is an integral part of Obamacare, and is a new agency established under the socialized healthcare program. The ostensible purpose of the FDSH is to coordinate information flow between insurance exchanges to determine eligibility for benefits, exemptions from the socialized healthcare mandate, and qualifications for federal subsidies. What sort of personal information is collected? Social security numbers, family size, household income, citizenship and immigration status, and arrest records, to name a few. And this information doesn't just stay under the auspices of the Department of Health and Human Services to manage Obamacare. Health and Human Services has said that it will "share" this information with the IRS, the Social Security Administration, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense, and even the Peace Corps (?). What we are witnessing is the largest consolidation of personal data in history by the federal government on its citizens. Of course, the Obama administration has said not to worry, that we can trust then government and the collected data will not be stored. A February regulatory filing by the Obama administration says differently. The filing describes a new system of records that will store names, Social Security numbers, taxpayers status, gender, ethnicity, e-mail addresses, phone numbers, and more personal information. The data collection on individual citizens is unprecedented and we should be aware of the increasing encroachment on our personal lives by an overreaching federal government.

Is it my imagination, or do Buffalo wings taste like chicken?

Of course, our government needs copious amounts of your income to pay for all the federal largesse that it re-distributes throughout the economy. One program, the "Lifeline" free cell phones, or "Obamaphones" is designed to give those that are at the poverty level a cell phone to use as a contact for job interviews and for emergency contact. To qualify for an Obamaphone, most recipients must show the Electronic Benefits Transfer card and ID to prove they are on welfare; or they must bring tax statements to a cell phone provider. In 2012, this program cost taxpayers $2.19 billion. The leading seller of these types of phones is TracFone, owned by Mexican multibillionaire Carlos Slim Helu, who is the second richest man in the world according to Forbes magazine. TracFone received $440 million under the program in 2012 for the phones it provided. I'm sure that you can begin to see the problem. The Lifeline program actually began in 1984 and was used to put land lines in homes. In 2008, cell phones were added to the program and quickly the number of participants in the program- and the associated cost to taxpayers- exploded. Unfortunately, so did the fraud, as numerous providers have been caught providing more than one phone to individuals. Those individuals quickly pawn those phones for cash and return for another. And you and I pay for it. Check your cell phone bill and notice a Federal Universal Service Charge. That is what subsidizes this program. The FCC found over 1 million duplicate subscribers- people that had received more than the one allotted cell phone. If the federal government cannot effectively run a program to hand out cell phones, do you believe they are going to effectively run healthcare?

A friend of mine just got divorced, and he and his ex-wife split the house. He got the outside.

President Obama has decided to tackle our most pressing problem. No, not a violation of your privacy by an over-intrusive federal government. No, not out of control government spending that threatens our currency and ultimately our way of life. No, Obama is going to tackle global warming. Even though climatologists cannot explain why the Earth's surface air temperature has been flat for the past 15 years. Irrespective of that inconvenient truth, Obama has directed the Environmental Protection Agency to create new carbon standards for new an existing U.S. power plants. And this is going to painful and costly to every person and business in the United States. White House Climate Advisor and Harvard professor Daniel Shrag said what was needed from this administration was a "war on coal" to change the environment. Here is the reality: U.S. emission of greenhouse gases are about 18% of total global emissions, and they are steadily declining. The International Panel on Climate Change estimates that at present levels, the U.S. will contribute about .5 degree (that's ONE-HALF) to overall climate change by the year 2100. If we reduce our emissions of green house gases by half, the effect on temperature would be approximately .25 degrees. And that one quarter degree change would come about with massive economic dislocations. It would raise the average Americans electric bill and it would be a job killer. All for miniscule change. When it comes to the sham of global warming, I have always told you to follow the money. And this is just another scheme to siphon off more of your income in the name of  spurious science.

Marriage is when a man and a woman decide to become one. The trouble starts when they try to decide which one.

And that, my friends, is my view.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Stanley Cup Review

Congratulations to the Chicago Blackhawks, winners of the 2013 Stanley Cup. The finals was a series of glorious, heroic, and hard fought hockey games played by athletes that epitomize the term "warrior".

My prediction was that the Bruins would win the series in 7 games. Instead, the Blackhawks prevailed in 6 games, showing resilience and the ability to counter the physical game of the Bruins with speed, talent, and scoring that came from all four lines.

To win the Cup, the Bruins needed balanced scoring from all their lines. That didn't happen. The Blackhawks were able to thwart the offensive efforts of Tyler Seguin, Nathan Horton, Jaromir Jagr, and Brad Marchand, among others. In the run up to the finals, the Bruins had been getting timely scoring from all their lines. The Hawks did a very good job of limiting those chances and shutting down the Bruins secondary scoring.

The Bruins will most likely look back on this series and say they let it slip away. There is some validity to that argument. The Bruins lost a 2 goal lead in game one, allowing the Hawks to score 2 third period goals and win in overtime. The Bruins captured the next 2 games in the series before dropping 3 straight, and missed opportunities and defensive lapses were the hallmark of those losses.

The Bruins had some uncharacteristic defensive breakdowns that cost them dearly. How much of that was the talent of the Hawks and how much was the Bruins defenders being gassed trying to counter the Hawks speed can be debated, but as the series wore on, the talented Hawks forwards were able to exploit the Bruins defense and create numerous quality scoring chances.

Early in the series, Chicago netminder Corey Crawford came under criticism for his play, and his glove hand had to be the most scrutinized glove hand in hockey. Yet at critical moments, Crawford made some big saves to keep the Hawks in the game. Crawford was a quiet virtuoso in net and his play and confidence fed his team.

Tuuka Rask was very solid if not spectacular in net for the Bruins, and kept them in every game in face of the offensive onslaught of the Hawks. Rask was coolly confident, moved well, and was in control in net. Unfortunately for the Bruins, the defense in front of Rask faded as the series wore on, and he was overwhelmed by the Hawks talent.

For Chicago, their stars were their stars, and they rose to the occasion. Patrick Kane had an outstanding series, and although Jonathan Toews didn't often find the back of the net, his leadership and play in all zones was solid. leadership doesn't always manifest itself in goals, and Toews was the consummate leader.

The Blackhawks also benefitted from timely scoring from players like Dave Bolland, who scored the game winning goal in games 6. The Hawks balance and ability to roll 4 lines that were productive was the difference in the series. The Bruins needed scoring from all their lines, and they didn't get it.

Now that the finals are over, we are learning the extent of the injuries that some players had to contend with. Warrior doesn't adequately describe the heart that these athletes bring to the rink, and that heart is what makes hockey the greatest game in the world. Broken wrists, punctured lungs, separated shoulders, and severely sprained MCL's are just the beginning of a laundry list of injuries that beset players from both teams.

Even though the season was shortened by a lockout, the hockey was superb and the playoffs were excellent. The finals were  well played and demonstrated why the Stanley Cup is the greatest trophy in all of sports.

And the most difficult to win.

Friday, June 21, 2013

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

In what has to be the most delicious irony in recent memory, Democrat John Larson, a Representative from Connecticut has said that subjecting members of Congress and their staff to coverage under Obamacare is "simply not fair". Now you may recall that when Congress was ramming socialized medicine down the throats of unwilling Americans, that legislative body exempted themselves from coverage under Obamacare. This gave opponents ample ammunition to point out the hypocrisy of Congress in addition to the inferiority of the coverage under this disaster. Congress eventually relented and added a provision to the bill mandating that members of Congress and their staff would get their coverage through Obamacare. Now that it is time to sign up for socialized medicine, Rep. Larson says that it is simply just not fair that they have to be subjected to the same shoddy healthcare that was foisted on all Americans. Not only is this beautifully ironic, but it sadly points to one of the great problems that we have in our country today- a ruling elite that have the belief that they are above the laws and regulations they dump on the American public. So here is a question that I would ask any lawmaker that voted for the travesty of Obamacare: if it is "not fair", if it is so bad, then why did you vote to impose this debacle on the American public?

Show me someone that can neatly fold a fitted sheet and I will show you a witch.

Because of the onerous burdens of Obamacare and the maze of insurance regulations and requirements, there is emerging a new trend among some doctors that practice family medicine. That trend is to dump all insurance companies and bill patients directly for services. That practice is called "concierge" medicine where the physician charges the patient a flat monthly fee that gives them unlimited access to the doctor for any services that the family physician can provide. Dr. Doug Nunamaker of Wichita, KS, converted his practice to this model, and he charges adults a flat fee of $50 per month up to age 44; $100 per month for adults 45 and over; and $10 per month for children. He has also negotiated for outside services that his office cannot provide. For example, an MRI costs $400 as opposed to the more than $2,000 billed to an insurance company. Cholesterol screening tests cost $3 versus the $90 billed to insurance companies. Most of Dr. Nunamaker's patients carry a high deductible health insurance policy for emergencies or serious illness, but you can see the cost savings by not having to deal with insurance and government red tape. This is indicative of the overhead, not to mention the onerous reporting requirements, that insurance companies and the government place on physicians and how it contributes to the rising cost of health care in this country.

I quit my relationship with the gym. We were just not working out.

This past week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Arizona cannot impose citizenship verification requirements as part of the federal voting registration form. Proponents of election integrity are concerned that they lost this decision, but that is far from reality. The decision actually grants more power to each state to determine the procedures for voting in local, state, and federal elections. While the Supremes ruled that Arizona, or any state, cannot change the federal requirements, which is what Arizona's proof of citizenship requirement did, they allowed each state to set their own state standard. There is a federal voter registration form, and there is a voter registration form for each state. States now have the right to keep those federal forms stored and only use their state registration form if they so desire. And if a state requirement is to provide proof of citizenship, then that is perfectly legal according to the court. What I find most interesting about this is how those on the left have fought tooth and nail against citizenship and identification requirements for those that vote in our elections. Fortunately, the Supreme Court said that each state can enforce those requirements as they see fit. Now it will be interesting to see which states do exactly that.

I have a condition that prevents me from losing weight. I get hungry.

And that, my friends, is my view.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

New Ice, New Opportunities

The announcement by the City of Nashville for the construction of a new hockey center in the Hickory Hollow area of Nashville is good news for the development of the game and of young players that need ice time to hone their skills.

Nashville Mayor Karl Dean announced the construction of a new hockey center along with other improvements in the Antioch area of the city. The new center will have two sheets of ice, 8 locker rooms, several multi-purpose rooms, a pro shop, a concession stand and room for other restaurants in the 86,000 square foot facility.

The City of Nashville will own the facility and it will be leased and operated by the Predators.

The addition of the new ice is critical for the growth of the game in Middle Tennessee. Currently, there are 4 sheets of ice available to the public, which means scheduling for practice, games, and camps is at a premium.

More importantly, it allows the hockey culture in this area to grow. Practice facilities and ice time are essential, especially for younger players, to continue to develop the game.

Is there a need for a facility- or additional facilities- such as this?

The answer is an overwhelming "yes".

Here are some numbers from USA Hockey:

In 1999, Tennessee  had 1,176 youth hockey players, defined as participants from Termite to high school age players. Not all of the these players were in Middle Tennessee, but it is a logical presumption that a majority were, coinciding with the arrival of the Predators in Nashville.

By 2005-06, the number of players in the state had grown to 2,080. Despite a lack of facilities, youth participation grew 20% in 2006-07, to 2,495 players.

At the end of 2012, there were 2,880 players.

Imagine how the game can, and I believe will, grow with additional facilities and the availability of ice time.

To put this in perspective, consider the participation in Texas. In 1990, there were 868 youth hockey players registered with USA Hockey. At the end of 2012, there were nearly 11,000, an amazing increase of 1,156%

Why has this happened?

The obvious starting point is the relocation of the Minnesota North Stars to Dallas. While having a hockey team certainly generates interest in the game, the growth in the Texas market goes beyond the presence of a professional hockey team.

The Stars were heavily involved in the development of ice rinks around the Dallas metroplex and fostering the growth of the game. The Stars organization invested time, money, and manpower in developing the game in their market.

And that is why hockey is thriving in Texas.

Predators CEO Jeff Cogen, who came to the organization from the Dallas Stars, is an astute marketer, among other qualities, and knows that increasing the participation opportunities and rates among the youth of Middle Tennessee grows the hockey culture. And growing a healthy hockey culture is foundational to putting fans in the stands.

There are some who will say that hockey doesn't belong in "non-traditional" markets. These participation numbers resoundingly say otherwise. Hockey is growing - and thriving- in places that were not part of the hockey landscape twenty years ago.

And that is good for the health of the game.

Here is the press release from the Predators:

In front of more than 500 citizens, Mayor Dean announced that the city will invest more than $14 million into the Global Mall area. The plans include a massive new library, which replaces the smaller existing structure located further down Bell road and a community center, that includes a gym, walking track, several mulch-function rooms and even a rooftop terrace to hold events and concerts. Outside of the community center will sit a 3.7-acre park in what is now a parking lot.
The biggest piece to the city’s investment in Antioch is the construction of a new hockey center. The new two-story, 86,000-square-foot facility will house two ice rinks, eight locker rooms, several multiple-function rooms, concession stands, a pro-shop, a workout facility, a video room and space for restaurants or other vendors that is scheduled to open in summer 2014.

“We are so grateful to the Mayor and Metro for recognizing the many benefits of our public/private partnership,” Nashville Predators CEO Jeff Cogen said. “This facility will provide a new location for the community to gather and socialize, and hockey tournaments and figure skating events that will be hosted here will bring significant economic impact to the area with increases in demand for local lodging, dining, shopping and entertainment. The Predators are dedicated to contributing to the economic impact, general well-being and quality of life, not only in this community but for all of Middle Tennessee.”

While Metro Nashville will build and own both the community center and hockey center, the Preds will be the sole managers of the ice rink. The Predators, who will lease the hockey center from the city, will work with Metro to develop a workforce program that will include job training and internship programs.

In addition to creating jobs, the benefits of this rink are far-reaching, as hockey players and families who used to travel to the current ice facilities in the area from Rutherford County, Wilson County and beyond will now have a rink more centralized to their location. The new rink will serve as a hub to the Preds hockey programs, but the club will continue to provide beginner hockey courses like the highly successful Get Out and Learn Program (G.O.A.L!) and other learn-to-skate classes and hockey lessons at area rinks, in addition to youth tournaments and leagues.

"More rinks equal more opportunities for people of all levels and ages to get involved in the game of hockey, growing the Nashville Predators fan base and creating new ambassadors of the sport,” Cogen said.

Overall, the investment in Southwest Davidson County could approach nearly $32 million with improvements to local business and retail centers, while also investing in the community with additional recreation areas and green spaces.

Friday, June 14, 2013

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

There is serious concern about the government tapping in to e-mails and phone calls of private citizens. There is concern about overreach from the IRS and its targeting of conservatives. This concern is rightly justified. The refrain from the highest levels of our government is "trust us" and by the way, we- the government- will vigorously prosecute those that have leaked information. Well, I am unconvinced that I can trust this administration or the federal bureaucracy in general. But as long as we are talking about trust and prosecuting those that leak information, let us begin with the IRS and the Environmental Protection Agency. In 2008, the IRS leaked confidential financial information of the National Organization for Marriage to an opposition group, the Human Rights Campaign. This information was damaging to the National Organization for Marriage and a clear violation of the law. yet nothing has happened in that instance. Now, it has been revealed that the EPA has released personal information for 80,000 livestock farmers in 30 states, information that includes personal addresses and GPS coordinates of the homes of the owners of the operations. This information was released to the left leaning groups Earth Justice, Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Pew Charitable Trust. The release of private information of groups to which it is opposed by this administration is criminal. But don't look for any prosecutions to come from the venal Eric Holder and his minions in the Justice Department. No, the Obama administrations and his lackeys in the bureaucracy just want us to "trust them".

Bumper stickers are really just car tattoos.

Since the revelation of the NSA domestic surveillance initiative, we have become introduced to the concept of "metadata". That is what the NSA has been collecting on American citizens (and don't think for a moment that Verizon is the only cellular carrier providing this data to the NSA), but what is it and how is it used. The telephone metadata is all information or data except the actual content of the message. With this metadata, the NSA knows when you made a phone call or sent a text message and to whom. It knows when you accessed the internet on your smart phone and what sites you visited. It knows who you are, where you are, and with whom you interact. The government knows you movements and your social network. Now, being the intelligent readers that you are, you will quickly point out that the cellular companies also know that same information. That is true, but the cellular companies do not have police powers, taxing authority, and the ability to make your life generally miserable (their weak customer service notwithstanding). A cellular provider uses this type of information for marketing purposes, and by engaging the services of a cellular carrier, we have agreed to limited access to this information. We have not entered the same type of agreement with the federal government. And given the propensity of this administration to use private information to punish and make life miserable for those that oppose them, the question becomes do we trust them. Do we trust them to protect our privacy and to treat everyone equally under the law. Given the record of this administration, we would be foolish to trust them.

Why is it called "after dark" when it is still dark? Isn't "after dark"

Pay attention to the conversation in Washington about student loans. According to a report by the New York Federal Reserve, at the end of 2012, student loan obligations totaled approximately $1 TRILLION , or $25,000 per graduate. There are over 39,000,000 people that owe on student loans, and depending on the age of the borrower, the delinquency rate is between 10-20%. If Congress and the White House cannot agree on extending the current rates for student loans, the rate will double, from 3.4% to 6.8%. While this issue is garnering a tremendous amount of attention, there is something that prospective students and their parents should focus upon: tuition increases for public colleges and universities have averaged 42% for the period of 2001-2011. The increase during that same period was 31% for private schools. Now I would venture a guess that for most of us, our incomes did not increase 42% over that same period. Reflecting these increasing costs, college enrollment for the spring semester of 2013 was down 2.3%, the first decline in decades. Colleges and universities have long been insulated from economic realities- they have been able to raise tuition irrespective of economic conditions. Now, with new delivery systems, such as on-line learning and a movement by a segment of the potential college enrollees to technical training, colleges are going to have to re-think their relevancy and their cost structure. Reflecting that reality, Moody's gave a negative financial outlook for ALL U.S. colleges and universities at the beginning of 2013. Parents and students want accountability and efficacy from the college experience, and it appears that market forces are beginning to move our higher education system in that direction.

If the police arrest a mime, can he talk to an attorney?

And that, my friends, is my view.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Conference Finals Review and Stanley Cup Prediction

The View was a dismal 0-fer on his conference final predictions as both the Penguins and the Kings took it on the chin. Let's take a look at what I predicted and what actually happened.

Western Conference

Los Angeles vs. Chicago

Prediction: Kings in 7

Reality:       Blackhawks in 5

The Kings wanted to make this a physical series and wear down the Blackhawks. The problem for the Kings was the speed of the Blackhawks didn't allow them to play an effective physical game. The Hawks used their speed to open up the ice and have a decided advantage in puck possession time. The Kings were also missing Mike Richards for most of the series and it had a significant impact on their offensive production. While the Hawks stellar defensive tandem of Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith played their usual solid game, the play of Nik Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya logged big minutes and played superbly. Bryan Bickell continued his breakout playoff run and it appeared that Patrick Kane was finding his scoring touch again. All this meant that the Kings had to have superb goaltending from Jonathan Quick and balanced scoring throughout their line up. They got neither, as Quick looked pedestrian and the forwards for the Kings struggled to find consistency and get shots on net. There is no denying that the Hawks bring an explosive offense and great speed to the ice. After two very physical series with St. Louis and San Jose, the Kings could not adjust their game to match the Hawks.

Eastern Conference

Boston vs. Pittsburgh

Prediction: Penguins in 7

Reality:      Bruins in 4

Wow! I certainly didn't see this one coming. Much like the Hawks/Kings, this was a matchup of the speed and skill of the Penguins against the defensive prowess of the Bruins, and I figured this one would turn for the speed and skill of the Pens. Instead, the Bruins absolutely stymied the big guns of the Penguins, allowing only 2 goals in the 4 games. The first two contests were not really much of a contest as the Bruins ripped the heart out of the Penguins on their home ice with two convincing wins. The Bruins speed was not much different than the Penguins, and that allowed them to slow the Pens rush through the neutral zone. Once inside their defensive zone, the Bruins absolutely shut down the Penguins offense and Tuuka Rask was spectacular in net, making some great saves and cleaning up shot that got through. Rask seemed to be calm and very relaxed, with the defense in front of him, it was no wonder. The Penguins just could not get their offense going, and they were not helped in the defensive end as the Bruins exposed a suspect blue line and poured shots in on Tomas Vokoun in the Pens net. Vokoun was not bad, but if the Penguins were going to win this series, he had to be nearly perfect. he wasn't, the Pens defense offered little help, and the offense never got untracked. Not a formula to win a series against a veteran team like the Bruins.

So after that rather bleak round of predictions, it's on the to the Stanley Cup finals, and bleak predictions notwithstanding, the View is ready to offer his opinion on who will hoist Lord Stanley's hallowed chalice.

Here is the analysis and the fearless prediction:

There is no doubt that the Blackhawks will continue to stick to their game plan- speed opening up the ice and skill creating scoring opportunities. Why not? It has been very successful to this point and there is no reason to think that it will not work in the championship series. The Boston Bruins have relied on a total team effort on both ends of the ice, with the forwards heavily involved in the defensive effort and assisting the defenders in slowing down the other team through the neutral zone and limiting space in the defensive zone. The Bruins will be challenged by the speed of the Hawks, who can take a defensive miscue and exploit it for a score. If the Bruins cannot handle the Hawks speed, the series could be over quickly.

By contrast, the Hawks series with the Detroit Red Wings showed the Bruins how to win this series. Physical play that gets the Hawks off their game and frustrates them will be the goal of the Bruins. In so doing, the Bruins hope to goad the Hawks into penalties and take them off their game. If this happens, the Bruins have the offensive capabilities to put the puck in the net.

Both teams will have to have exceptional play from their netminders. Tuuka Rask is have a breakout run through the playoffs, and Corey Crawford has been consistently solid. It could come down to which goaltender blinks first in this series, and at the moment, neither has shown that the pressure bothers them.

So this series will be decided by which team can make life the most miserable for the other with physical play, pressure in the offensive zone, and capitalizing on their opportunities. Frankly, you can find little to point to as a glaring weakness for either squad.

The edge in this series, in my view, will be the depth and talent of the Bruins. Look for their third and fourth lines to contribute in a big way during these games, and they will be the deciding factor.

Prediction:  Boston in 7

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Predators Continue Community Involvement with $131,000 Donation

The Nashville Predators continued their active and deep involvement with our community, today donating $131,000 to the Monroe Carell, Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt. The Predators have had a corporate relationship with Vanderbilt since 2008, when Vanderbilt became the team's official health care provider. That relationship is more than a business relationship.

Much more.

The team has endowed a pediatric cancer research fund as well as funding other initiatives to improve the lives of children who are patients at the hospital. In addition, players generously devote time to hospital visits to the patients at Vanderbilt.

The personality, no the DNA, of this team is to be involved in the community, and not in just superficial ways. The Predators and the Predators Foundation have contributed time and money to improving the lives of those in Middle Tennessee.

This contribution is just another example of the commitment of this organization to our community and its citizens.

Here is the press release from the Predators:

Nashville Predators forward Matt Halischuk and President/Chief Operating Officer Sean Henry presented a check for $131,000 to officials of Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt today.

This is the Nashville Predators fifth donation to Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, raising more than $700,000 for the Hospital and its programs over the past five years. The largest portion of this year’s donation ($104,000) will be used towards a Nashville Predators endowed pediatric cancer research fund, with the remaining donation supporting a number of other programs that benefit Children’s Hospital patients including a grant to fund the Collaborative Consulting Teams, who work with students with chronic illness and their teachers; Flashes of Hope; the Weber’s Warriors suite; and a Friends in Fashion special event.                                                                                                   

The donation is a result of this season’s fundraising efforts by the Nashville Predators including Nashville Predators Care for Kids nights, a Nashville Predators Alumni game, an SPHL preseason contest between the Knoxville Ice Bears and the Huntsville Havoc and more. Additionally, throughout the season the Nashville Predators donate tickets for families, autographed memorabilia for fundraising events, provide player and Gnash visits and participate in We Care for Kids initiatives. 

“With each passing season, our relationship with Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt continues to grow,” Nashville Predators President Sean Henry said. “With this year’s donation, we have donated more than $700,000 to Children’s Hospital and its programs over the last five years, helping families receive the care they desperately need. Donations like this would not be possible without the unwavering support of our players, fans and staff. ” 

“We are overwhelmed by the Nashville Predators generosity,” Chief Executive Officer for Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt Luke Gregory said. “Children’s Hospital is committed to identifying cures and better treatments for childhood cancer, and this donation will certainly have a positive impact in this regard.”
Vanderbilt and the Predators first became strategic partners when they joined forces in 2008, with Vanderbilt signing on as the Predators integrated health care provider. Vanderbilt has long been a prominent fixture within the community and has been recognized for its continued medical excellence

Monday, June 10, 2013

Predators Sign Roman Josi For 7 Years, $28 Million

The Nashville Predators announced today that RFA defenseman Roman Josi had been signed to a contract extension for 7 years and $28 million. Josi spent the majority of the past season paired with Shea Weber on the top D pairing and went a long way toward answering the question of who would step up and replace Ryan Suter.

This is an excellent move by the Predators, as Josi has shown that he has significant upside and is a solid compliment to Weber. Signing Josi to the 7 year contract helps solidify the blue line and that number one defense pairing.

Here is the press release from the Predators:

Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced today that the club has signed defenseman Roman Josi to a seven-year, $28 million contract. He will make $2.5 million in 2013-14, $3 million in 2014-15, $4 million in 2015-16, $4.25 million in 2016-17, $5 million in 2017-18, $5.25 million in 2018-19 and $4 million in 2019-20.

“Re-signing Roman was a top priority as we look to regroup heading into the 2013-14 season,” Poile said. “Roman has proven, with his growth and success here in Nashville and on the international stage, that he is one of the best young defensemen in the NHL. Roman’s skating ability and instincts have allowed him to play in all key situations. With today’s signing, we have our top defensive pairing locked up long-term, and we look forward to Roman’s continued development and contribution to the Predators’ on-ice success.”

Josi, 23 (6/1/90), posted 18 points (5g-13a) while appearing in all 48 of Nashville’s games in 2012-13, surpassing his 52-game total from his rookie campaign in 2011-12. The Bern, Switzerland native saw his average ice time increase by more than five minutes from his rookie campaign (from 18:23 to 23:31), leading the team in ice time on nine occasions while ranking 19th in the League in total minutes played (1,129:25) last season.

The 6-2, 198-pound blueliner had a standout 2013 World Championships, becoming the first Swiss player to be named Most Valuable Player, Best Defenseman and a tournament All-Star after helping Switzerland to a silver medal, the nation’s first medal in 60 years. Josi led all tournament defensemen in goals (4) and points (9), in addition to leading Switzerland in points and average ice time (20:08).

Nashville’s third choice, 38th overall (second round), in the 2008 Entry Draft, Josi has posted 34 points (10g-24a) in 100 regular-season games.

Friday, June 7, 2013

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

No one denies the necessity for national security, and the prevention of terrorist acts is far more preferable than the after the fact prosecution of said acts. The delicate balance that law enforcement and intelligence agencies have to maintain is one between gathering of data on suspected terrorists and the reasonable right to privacy that law abiding citizens should expect. It was revealed this week that our expectation and right to privacy are virtually non-existent. In a supposed effort to gather intelligence on suspected or potential terrorists, the National Security Agency (NSA) has been collecting the telephone records of millions of Verizon customers under a top secret court order. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court granted the NSA a warrant the required Verizon to give the agency information on all phone calls made in its system both within the U.S. and between the U.S. and foreign countries. What is unusual about this court order is that Verizon has approximately 121 million customers and the court order requires the company to indiscriminately turn over records for ALL of its customers, whether or not that individual is considered a potential terrorist threat. The information that was turned over included the phone numbers of both parties on the call, location, call duration and other identifiers. While the basis of this court order is the "business records" section of the Patriot Act that was enacted under President George Bush, the scope of this court order is both unprecedented and disturbing. And how effective had the NSA been at identifying and monitoring potential or suspected terrorists? The breakdown in the Boston Marathon bombing case shows that efficacy of monitoring potential terrorist threats was low. So why the need to monitor what the average American is doing with their electronic communications? The act of surveilling a broad swath of the American populace for no good reason is a direct contradiction of the 4th amendment's guarantee of privacy and against unreasonable search and seizure. Just another indicator of the audacity of the federal government and the lack of respect for our rights.

I overheard my wife tell one of her friends I was a real treasure. I was feeling pretty good about that until I heard her say that like most treasures, I should be taken out and buried.

Have you heard of PRISM? PRISM is a top secret program that is being used by the aforementioned NSA and the FBI to tap directly into the servers of internet providers and extract e-mails, chat room conversations, photos, Skype conversations and other documents. PRISM was authorized by Congress in 2007 as part of President George Bush's Protect America Act and modified in 2008 with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The Congressional and Court approved program was to be focused on foreign communication traffic, but the scope of the program broadened dramatically. PRISM is a tool of the federal intelligence community that is reaching deep inside American companies and has the capability of accessing the personal and private data of all Americans. PRISM can actually let the NSA or the FBI watch the actual keystrokes as a target types a message or to listen in on internet voice or video messaging. It is not unreasonable to think that the communications of innocent people have been searched in the process of trying to locate another person. PRISM searches of an individuals electronic communication do not require a warrant, and the internet service provider does not have to be informed of the search. In fact, some internet service providers were unaware of the PRISM program. For instance, a spokesman for Apple said they had never heard of PRISM. Currently, PRISM is one of the most used tools by the intelligence community to generate leads on potential terrorist activity. It is also one of the most invasive surveillance tools in the government arsenal. The line between individual rights and national security is moving, and this is a line that cannot move too far toward abridging our individual rights. It is critical that we become informed and pay attention to what is happening in this arena. Oh, and don't e-mail anything that would embarrass you.

You know, if the world were really a logical place, men would ride horses sidesaddle.

$83,894. What is that number? I am glad you asked. That is the amount per household of the unfunded liability of the Social Security program. That unfunded liability is the amount that has been promised in benefits to people that will not be funded by the current social security tax that is paying for those benefits. This is according to the 2013 Annual Report from the Trustees of the Social Security Fund. How much would it take to get the fund back to solvency? $9.6 trillion, or $83,894 per household. Ouch! The Trustees estimate to get the fund back to balance there must be either a payroll tax hike of 2.66%; a benefit cut of 16.5%; or some combination of the two. And they must happen immediately. There is no political will for any of these options in Washington, so it will be business as usual as Congress kicks the can down the road. But know that the next time someone from Washington or an economist like Paul Krugman tells you that Social Security is solvent, they are idiots, lying, or lying idiots.

My wife got this new shampoo that promises new body. It works! So far, I have gained 5 pounds.

And that, my friends, is my view.