Sunday, September 29, 2013

2013 Meet the Predators Team Party

One of the great traditions in Nashville is the Meet the Team Party to start the season. This year's meet and greet once again allowed fans the opportunity to interact with the players by playing various games and get autographs and pictures made with team members.

Here are some pictures from the event held at Bridgestone Arena:

Fans lined up to get pictures made with the players at various stations around the arena.

Pekka Rinne and Carter Hutton were in unfamiliar territory, sitting in the penalty box on the concourse to have their photos taken with fans.

Rich Clune gives an interview.

Matt Cullen, Mike Fisher, and Craig Smith at one of the photo booths.

One of the activities that the fans and especially the players enjoy is the opportunity to interact while playing games. Victor Bartley and Seth Jones play ping pong with some fans.

In addition to the players, the broadcast team was in attendance as well. Here is Paul McCann, the Predators in arena announcer. (Thanks, Paul).

Predators play by play announcer Pete Weber and his wife, Claudia; color man Terry Crisp and his wife, Sheila; and the View.

These fans were in line to...

see Gabriel Bourque and Shea Weber.

Eric Nystrom, Colin Wilson, and Kevin Klein sign autographs for the fans.

Ryan Ellis and Mattias Ekholm play foosball with some fans.

Nick Spaling does battle with Big Ben on the air hockey table.

Filip Forsberg plays corn hole with a young fan.

Gnash is always a fan favorite.
This is an event that the fans always look forward to, giving them an opportunity to meet and talk with the players. The Predators organization has done an excellent job of making it interactive and allowing the fans to see the players in a relaxed atmosphere. 
Many thanks to the organization for putting this event on for the fans and to the players for their time.

Friday, September 27, 2013

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

The socialized healthcare debacle known as Obamacare is scheduled to be implemented October 1st. Obamacare was never about providing quality healthcare to this country. It was a blatant power grab by those on the Left and in Washington. And while we can rail against this disaster, I want to focus on one aspect  that has not received much attention: the fact that Congress has opted out of this mess and will continue under their own private healthcare plan. Because of pressure from Congressional leaders, the White House carved out a special exemption from Obamacare for Congress and their staff, the very people who authored this law. The hypocrisy of this maneuver is breathtaking and is symptomatic of the disconnect between those in Washington and the American people. So when we evaluate the costly and devastating effects of Obamacare on our individual situation, know that although we may lose our insurance coverage and be forced into this plan, Congress will not. Our premiums may rise astronomically, but they will not for Congress. We may not be able to keep our doctor, but Congressmen will. In the Federalist Papers, number 57, James Madison wrote of Congress, "They can make no law which will not have its full operation on themselves and their friends, as well as on the great mass of society." You would think that our nation's elected leaders would be prepared to cope with the effects of the law they authored. You would think wrong. And until we as voters and taxpayers force Congress to change this mindset, we will continue to have an increasingly disconnected leadership that will take advantage of the electorate.

Curiosity killed the cat, but for a while, I was a suspect.

One of the founding principles of capitalism is that capital (money) in a free market economy is allocated efficiently and to where it can get the best return relative to the risk associated with the use of that capital. Why bring this up? Remember in 2010 when Blockbuster Video filed bankruptcy? Once a hot growth company, the market for entertainment changed and delivery systems (such as Netflix or on demand movies) become more accessible. Blockbuster could not adapt and they went out of business. Capital deployed by investors was removed and reallocated to other areas (efficiency) that had better opportunities for growth (return). Think back five years ago, and recall that our country was entering a "financial crisis" as we say major banks like Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, and Citigroup collapsing. These banks got into trouble because they ineffectively deployed the capital that was entrusted to them. Unlike Blockbuster, these banks were bailed out in one form or fashion by taxpayer dollars. This began the phenomenon known as "too big too fail" regarding the largest banks in our nation. On the surface, that may sound like a good idea, but know this: when we as a country remove the risk from the market, we no longer efficiently allocate capital. In fact we let these institutions destroy capital. Citi has been bailed out by the government five times over the last 22 years. That means that you and I are paying for the bad business decisions and inefficient capital allocation of its management. And unlike the situation with Blockbuster, the federal government chose to step in and redeem the mistakes of Citi's management.  In recent years, the government has done the same thing for Chrysler, GM, and numerous other companies. I for one do not want the folks in Washington picking the winners and losers in our economy. Neither should you.

I would give my right arm to be ambidextrous.

The short term effect of the Federal Reserve printing trillions of dollars (quantitative easing) has been to lower interest rates, which has been good for the housing market, and to boost the stock market. Since the Fed began printing dollars, we have added a staggering $3.6 trillion in new debt. At the same time we have accumulated this new debt, interest rates on that debt have averaged a historic low of 2.4%, according to the Congressional Budget Office. So while we as a country have added a record amount of debt since 2008, we have not felt a significantly negative impact because of the low interest rate environment created by the Fed. But what happens if rates normalize? The average interest rate paid on our Treasury bills and  bonds (our debt) over the last 20 years is 5.7%. The current level of debt held by the public today is $12.2 trillion dollars. The CBO estimates it will be $16.6 trillion by 2020 at our current rate of spending. If we keep spending and if rates rise over that period, then by 2020, we will owe approximately $930 billion in interest on our debt. So what, you say? Consider that the IRS collects between $1.1 to $1.3 trillion annually in taxes and you can see that the majority of tax collections will go toward paying just the interest payments on our debt. Think this will create chaos when we cannot pay our military or fund social security obligations? Friends, this train is coming down the track, and the wreck is going to be spectacularly disastrous. Prepare yourself.

It's a small world, but I wouldn't want to have to paint it.

And that, my friends, is my view.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Predators Preview: Questions Abound

The Nashville Predators ended last year's shortened hockey season with a depleted roster and a number of questions. During the off season, the team made personnel moves to address some of those questions and to provide much needed depth and talent to the roster.

Yet questions remain about the team, its roster, and its ability to compete.

With the season about to open, those questions hang over a Predators team that has been consistently in the playoff picture and is looking to return to the post season. Every facet of this team has some serious questions, and how they are answered will determine if the post season once again awaits.

Just as the Predators have built the team from the net out, let's start by looking at who is manning the pipes:


The Predators have relied on the strong play of Pekka Rinne to carry them since he has taken over the starter's role. And Rinne has done just that. In the four full seasons that he has been a starter, beginning in 2008, Rinne has averaged playing 62 games per season. He played in 43 of the 48 games last year, and relishes the workload. That is a good thing because he faces a lot of pucks coming at him. His worst save percentage since 2008 was in the shortened season last year, at .910. Having Rinne in net is a confidence booster for the team in front of him, and he gives the Predators an opportunity to win games even without prolific scoring.

Shortly after the season was over, it was revealed that Rinne had played with an injured hip for most of the campaign. Off season surgery to correct the injury was successful, but rehab limited his work on the ice. At the start of training camp, Rinne said he was 100% and felt fine, but the team has limited his work in the preseason.

Back up Chris Mason is gone, and for now, the Predators are using off season acquisition Carter Hutton from the AHL Rockford Ice Hogs as the tentative back up. Hutton has shown some athleticism and potential to be a solid back up in the preseason.

The Questions

The first, most important, and obvious question is Rinne's health and durability. In limited preseason action, he has looked very good. His quickness, explosiveness moving side to side, and agility look like the healthy Rinne Predator fans are used to seeing in net. Should Rinne be unable to carry his usual workload, this team will be in the market for a proven netminder. Rinne's ability to play at his usual high level and number of games will go a long way toward getting the Predators back into a playoff position.

Can Carter Hutton serve as an effective back up? Realistically, I believe that Hutton (or any back up goalie) is going to have to play 15-20 games because of the compression in the schedule caused by the Olympics. If the Predators have confidence in Hutton to give him that workload, it allows Rinne to get needed rest and the Predators do not have to give up assets to acquire a seasoned back up. I expect the Predators to start the season with Hutton as the back up and give him an opportunity to secure that spot on the roster for the season.

The Defense

While Shea Weber garners most of the attention when talking about the Predators blue liners, there are other talented players on the back end. Kevin Klein has quietly developed into a solid and steady defender. Roman Josi has emerged as a very complimentary player paired with Weber, showing good hockey sense and the ability to move the puck.

The Predators 4th round pick, Seth Jones has tremendous upside and will be on the opening roster. Jones has good hockey sense and plays a mature game. There will be a learning curve, but his raw talent and skill should help to offset his inexperience.

Victor Bartley showed well in his time with the Predators last season, and that experience will help him. He has good size and uses it well. He needs to develop an edge and some snarl, but that will come.

Ryan Ellis is undersized but a good puck mover and can help the team on the power play. Mattias Ekholm has the tools to be a good defenseman but he has to translate those skills to the NHL after playing in Sweden and the AHL.

The Questions

Jones has the talent, but can he play second pairing minutes against quality forwards? If he can, this will help solidify the Predators blue line.

Can Ryan Ellis handle the rigors of a full NHL season? His physical stature works against him and bigger forwards can take advantage of him. His skating and puck moving ability are distinct plusses, but he has to show that he can compete against physical opponents.

The Predators have to find a third D pairing. Can Bartley, Ellis, and Ekholm fill that role, and more importantly, play solid defense? If they can, the blue line could be a strong component of this team.

The Forwards

Talk about the Predators and the conversation quickly turns to the lack of consistent scoring. There is a lot of potential among this group, but it is just that- potential. For the Predators to be successful, that potential among this group must be realized.

The Predators will blend experience with youthful talent. Veterans Mike Fisher, Patric Hornqvist, Colin Wilson, David Legwand, and new addition Matt Cullen will pair with Gabriel Bourque, Craig Smith (both third year players), and newcomer Filip Forsberg (who played 5 games with the Predators last season) on the top lines. This group has the talent and potential- there is that word again- to be good. For the Predators to be successful, they have to produce.

Rich Clune, Paul Gaustad, and new acquisitions Eric Nystrom and Matt Hendricks provide grit to the forwards. The Predators have to have offensive contributions from the third and fourth lines as they have in seasons past, and these players have to provide timely scoring as well as a physical presence.

The reality is that the Predators have been successful scoring by committee. In the 2011-12 season, the Predators finished 8th in the NHL in regular season scoring. The Predators lack an elite scorer, but the balanced scoring from all lines has been consistent and productive in past seasons. The Predators have to have that balance in the upcoming season.

The Predators hope that Viktor Stalberg, acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks as a free agent, can provide the consistent top flight scorer that they have lacked. Stalberg has the size and speed that the Predators need and the hope is that his production will increase with top line minutes. Unfortunately, Stalberg sprained his shoulder in a preseason game and is expected to miss 4 weeks.

The Questions

There are a bunch with this group.

Can Colin Wilson return to form after having surgery on both shoulders in the off season? Wilson was having a career year before injuries cut short his season. It bodes well for the Predators if he can produce like he did before his injury.

Gabriel Bourque is a powerful, physical forward, and like Wilson, his season was shortened by an injury. He has fully recovered from knee surgery and the Predators need his physical presence and scoring. Can Bourque play a full season and be productive? If so, this gives the Predators much needed scoring and flexibility with the forward lines.

Craig Smith arguably has some of the best offensive skills of any forward on the team. Smith had a miserable sophomore season and struggled to find consistency in his game. If Smith can find his scoring touch and confidence, the Predators will have a dynamic offensive forward that can create match up problems for the defense.

How will the newcomers mesh with the team? In particular, can Stalberg produce to his potential and physical skills? If the new acquisitions mesh early and are productive, the Predators will challenge for a playoff position. The Predators need Stalberg to quickly establish himself as an elite scorer. If he can, the offense will be a more productive unit.

The Coaches

Barry Trotz is the only Head Coach the Predators have had, and he has the knack of getting the most out of his squad. This season, he has more depth at forward and had some components that should be able to provide some offensive pop.

Lane Lambert returns behind the bench and will coach the forwards. Peter Horachek is gone, and Phil Housley has replaced him behind the bench and will coach the defense. I expect the defense corps, and especially some of the young players on the blue line will benefit from his coaching.

The Questions

Can Trotz and his staff quickly blend the veterans, new additions to the roster, and the young players into a cohesive and effective unit? Can Trotz get the Predators back to playing "Predator hockey"- gritty, tough defensively, and offensively opportunistic? If so, the Predators will be a force in the Central Division.

Trotz has been known for emphasizing defensive responsibility first and foremost. Can he get the forwards in particular to elevate their offensive game without sacrificing defensive responsibility? This group of forwards possesses offensive talent, but can they consistently score and take some pressure off Rinne and the defense?

The addition of Housley will benefit the defense and the power play. He has a lot of young players with which to work, and his challenge will be to get them ready quickly.

This is a team looking to rebound from a miserable season and get back to the playoffs. The Predators are a team looking to regain their identity, what Trotz calls their "bite".

Entering this season, numerous questions surround this team. They are tough questions that will be answered on the ice.

How they answer these questions will determine if they can find their bite and a spot in the playoffs.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Some Thoughts After the Predators 2-0 Win Against the Islanders

The Nashville Predators played their first pre-season game in the friendly confines of Bridgestone Arena and picked up their first win in a 2-0 victory over the New York Islanders.

Some thoughts and observations after watching the team last night:

Seth Jones plays a very smart game. He jumped into the rush in the offensive zone on occasion, but was defensively responsible throughout the game. Paired with Roman Josi, the duo quickly showed good chemistry and sound defensive play. For Jones, Nashville could not have been a better fit. The tutelage of Shea Weber and a young player like Josi that is not far removed from breaking into the NHL will be invaluable. Not to mention the benefits of being coached by a Hall of Fame defenseman in Phil Housley.

Speaking of Josi, he looked to be a bit stronger and more physical. He continues to impress with his skating and puck handling, and the part of his game that needed to improve was his strength. he appears to have made some positive strides in that area in the off season.

The line of David Legwand, Gabriel Bourque, and Filip Forsberg showed some real chemistry and explosiveness. This line could be a significant offensive contributor in the upcoming season. Bourque is solid and physical, Forsberg is sneaky quick and deft with the puck, and Legwand can distribute to his line mates. I hope to see this line continue to develop throughout the season.

Craig Smith arguably has some of the best skills on the team with his speed and puck handling ability creating matchup problems for opponents. There is no doubt that the Predators will be a much better team if Smith can start scoring with some regularity. Here's hoping that last year was just a miserable sophomore slump for the Honey Badger.

I think this is a make or break year for Ryan Ellis. He skates well, has a good shot, and can handle the puck. My concerns are the size mismatches that he almost always encounters on the ice. There are times where he is physically overwhelmed. I think this year with Housley is his best chance to stick on the Predators roster. If he is sent back to Milwaukee, I believe he could be packaged up in a trade.

Pekka Rinne worked two periods last night and looked very good. Peks tracked the puck well, was positionally sound, and survived some contact early. He also managed to stave off some good scoring chances from close in by the Islanders.

Rinne's back up, Carter Hutton, very much impressed me in the third period. He is athletic and moves well, and is aggressive in net. I believe he will be able to give the Predators some quality starts an ease the work load on Rinne.

The Predators play their last pre-season home game tomorrow night against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The puck drops at 7:00

Friday, September 20, 2013

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

The U.S. Census Bureau (USCB) on Tuesday released its latest report on income, poverty, and health insurance coverage for our country through the end of 2012. The results are dismal. According to the USCB, personal income has dropped 8.3% since the end of 2007. As companies move to a part time work force to avoid the onerous cost of Obamacare, this trend does not look to reverse itself in the near future. Lower wages and less benefits are the characteristics of the jobs that our economy is producing now. The U-6 unemployment rate (the rate calculated to reflect those that have dropped out of the workforce completely and those that no longer receive unemployment benefits) stands at nearly 15%. For African Americans, that number is nearly doubled. The breakdown of average income by population sub-groups also shows some startling numbers. Asian households have an average income of $68,600 (and were the only demographic group to show an increase in average income over the past five years); non- Hispanic whites had an average household income of $57,000; Hispanic households averaged $39,000; and African American households averaged $33,000. According to the USCB, nearly one third (31%) of the U.S. population has experienced poverty for at least two months over the last three years. The are stark and sad figures, but behind these numbers are families and individuals that are struggling financially. How do we correct this situation? There are no simple answers, but a good place to start would be to allow businesses freedom from the onerous burden of high taxes and undue regulation. Establish certainty about the tax code and the regulatory environment so that the business community will have confidence to begin to expand and hire. Oh yeah, we all need to fundamentally re-think the role of government. The notion that we can have people in Washington centrally plan our economy is a fallacy and will come to a very bad end. Washington works for us, not the other way around. Until we enforce that notion, these negative trends will continue.

The only member of my family with a personal trainer is the dog.

Our government debt continues to spiral out of control, and the Federal Reserve this week said it would not slow down its current printing of dollars, defying expectations. While the stock market cheered this action, know that eventually, the printing of dollars will end and when it does, it will end badly. There are those that say the end won't be so bad, and the federal government will not default on its debt. History says otherwise. In 1979, the federal government- in the middle of another budget crisis- failed to pay the principal on $120 million in U.S. Treasury bills that were matured, which resulted in a class action lawsuit (Barton v. United States). In 1934 FDR, by executive order, refused to pay back Liberty bonds that were supposed to be paid back in gold or gold backed currency. He issued U.S. dollars, backed by the "full faith and credit of the United States", and then proceeded to orchestrate a 40% devaluation of the dollar. Friends, the precedent is there for a default action, from the extreme of non-payment to a repayment that is worth less than the original investment. And understand what a default of either kind means for our country. Foreigners own roughly one third of the U.S. debt in the form of Treasury bills and bonds. If we default and don't pay them, our access to global debt markets (in essence, our credit card) would dry up and the entire global payment system would be shaken to its foundations. If we pay foreign creditors (bondholders) but default on the holdings of the Federal Reserve (which has been buying massive amounts of Treasuries as part of their money printing), then the value of our own currency is going to collapse and our dollars will be worth significantly less, if not worthless. If we default on the holdings in the Social Security Trust Fund, everyone that is receiving or has been promised a benefit is, to use a highly technical financial term, screwed. With our nation's indebtedness careening out of control, we must get involved to get our elected representatives to exact some fiscal discipline in Washington. If we fail to do so, the results will be horrific.

I am not a complete idiot. I have had some parts removed.

The U.S. is not alone in the printing of money and profligate government spending. Since the end of 2008, when there was fear of a global financial meltdown, the G-7 nations (the worlds largest developed nations/economies) have added $18 TRILLION in new debt on top of the $140 trillion that was on the books. Surely all that stimulus and new money would jump start the global economies, right? Well, through the end of August, that $18 trillion in new money/debt from around the globe has generated $1 trillion in new economic growth, according to data compiled by Deutsche Bank. To put this is more realistic terms, for every $18 dollars spent by central banks around the world, there was a corresponding $1 in new economic activity. So what, you say? Well, just keep this in mind: in the low interest rate environment that we currently enjoy, most nations can carry their massive debt load and pay the interest without consuming their budgets. Let interest rates rise, however, and the interest payments begin to consume more of the annual budget, crowding out expenditures for things like defense, education, and social programs. And rates do note have to go far before this becomes a problem; in fact, many target a rate on the benchmark 10 year Treasury bond of 3.5% as the trouble spot. We care currently at 2.73% on the 10 year Treasury. When those interest payments become onerous, either other programs will have to be cut, or someone isn't going to get paid (see: default, in the item above). Pay attention to interest rates and the increases in our national debt. They will impact all of us in the future.

Mirrors don't lie, and fortunately for me, they can't laugh either.

And that, my friends, is my view.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

We all know what a tipping point is- that point where momentum or direction begins to change and move in the opposite manner. We are close to a tipping point with regards to taxes in that just over 47% of Americans do not pay taxes. Here is another tipping point that we should closely monitor: nearly half of all babies born in 2010  were covered under Medicaid. According to an analysis of government records by researchers from the George Washington University School of Public Health, 48% of the 3.8 million babies born in 2010 were paid for by the American taxpayer. "As states have expanded coverage in partnership with the federal government, low income women will be able to obtain more continuous coverage before and between pregnancies," said Anne Markus, associate professor of Health Policy at the University. Medicaid coverage varies between the states and that affects the number of babies being born and paid for by government programs. The low is 25% of all births paid by Medicaid in Hawaii to nearly 70% in Louisiana. Now please don't misunderstand- I am 100% for taking care of expectant mothers and their unborn children. That is what a compassionate and humane society does. However, that compassion and care cannot occur in a vacuum. More specifically, it cannot occur with no economic consequences. Understand that with nearly half of all babies being born into government dependency, this creates enormous challenges for those children and gargantuan financial strain on an already overburdened taxpayer. The expansion of socialized medicine has accelerated the number of children being born under Medicaid. Did we expect anything less since we made the program more rewarding for this type of behavior? It is time that we have an honest dialogue about the unsustainability of the massive entitlement programs in this country and the horrific unintended consequences that they create.

So exactly how much of this "No More Tears" shampoo do I have to give a baby before they stop crying?

Some disturbing news was released last week by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. BLS released jobs numbers, and we all know that job creation and the quality of jobs is bad, but that is not the number that I am focused upon. No, the scary numbers are these: in June, the number of U.S. households receiving foodstamps rose to 23.117 million, an all time high. That month saw 45,900 new households begin to receive assistance, the largest monthly increase in history. Individually, 125,059 Americans were added to the program in June. These horrifying numbers are indicative of a still very weak economy that is not creating the number and quality of jobs that Americans need. To put it into perspective, there are now more Americans living in poverty and receiving government aid than the entire population of Spain.. Our economy needs to add 2.2 million jobs to get back to 2007 levels, when the recession started (forget for a moment that most of the jobs we are currently adding are low wage and part time jobs) which we are no where close to doing. Over that same period of time food stamp and disability income recipients has risen by 22 million people. The lack of quality job creation has created economic hardship for many people, which has caused the ranks of those receiving government assistance to grow dramatically. As I said in the paragraph above, we are reaching- quickly- a tipping point where these programs will no longer be financially viable without drastic cuts, massive tax increases, or both. Again, honesty and communication are essential first steps toward crafting workable solutions to these financial problems. The current method of blame and burying heads in the sand exhibited by our leaders will not suffice.

94% of people have below average intelligence. I am glad I am in the other 17%.

The Gallup Organization performs some very accurate economic polls, and their results paint a bleak economic picture of where our country finds itself. Gallup has created a Basic Access Index, which measures Americans ability to afford food, housing, and healthcare. Gallup has been tracking this index for years, and the all time recorded low was October 2011 when it was measured at 81.2 (on a 100 scale). This meant that nearly 20% of Americans were lacking in access to the basics mentioned. In August 2013, the BAI as measured by Gallup was 81.4. So after years of printing money by the Federal Reserve and government job programs, our country is faced with nearly 1/5th of the population worried about access to the basic necessities of life. Years of wasteful spending and inept leadership have brought us to this point, and at a time where a surprisingly large number of people are needing assistance, the government is lacking the resources to help. This situation is going to get worse and lots more painful. Foodstamp benefits are set to be reduced in November as a provision expanding the program as part of the 2009 stimulus program expires. Friends, the evidence should be clear to all of us that central planning like those in Washington adore doesn't work. It creates a nation of dependents (see: tipping points above) and rarely is effective. It is time for us to restore the power and responsibility to the local levels of government and to individuals and limit Washington's power and the damage they can do.

Vegetarians eat vegetables. So what do humanitarians eat?

And that, my friends, is my view. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Predators Skate of the Union Previews Excitement On and Off the Ice

The Predators held their annual Skate of the Union address to update fans on developments on and off the ice. The information shared by the team promises excitement and energy on the ice and upgrades to the arena and fan experience.

Predator players that spoke to the fans were: Mike Fisher; Matt Cullen; Eric Nystrom; and Shea Weber.

It was evident that there was good chemistry that had already developed between the new players, Cullen and Nystrom, and the veterans Fisher and Weber. Nystrom in particular was gregarious, funny, and a high energy individual and it is apparent that he will fit in well with the team.

Here are the highlights of the player comments:


His injured hand that plagued him last season is completely healed and he is feeling good. He jokingly said there that were no serious complications from his run in with the chipmunk (He cornered a chipmunk in his house and grabbed it with his bare hand, suffering a bite from the rodent). Fisher said he had a busy off season, getting a chance to hunt, relax, and heal up. He said he had a good off season conditioning regimen and is excited and ready for the season.


When asked why as a free agent he chose Nashville, Cullen said he wanted to be in a situation and place where he could win, and he felt that Nashville was the best place for him. Cullen won a Stanley Cup with the Carolina Hurricanes, and he said that the value of being on a Cup winning team is that as a player you learn what it takes to win the Cup- the hard work and sacrifice that is necessary to be successful. He also spoke about the value of having a solid team and teammates that you can trust. He said he sees that in Nashville. The experience that Cullen brings to the team will be invaluable.


He said that opponents of the Predators always knew they were going to have a hard game because the Predators were disciplined and always brought a good effort. He wanted to be a part of that and was appreciative of the opportunity to play here. He complimented the fans, saying that the energy in our building was the best in the NHL, and he was impressed with the turnout of fans at this event, saying he had never participated in a pre-season event with as many fans as were in attendance tonight. He was looking forward to playing against the Stars (his former team) and beating them six times in the upcoming season. He said his role is to bring energy and a physical presence to the ice and he is looking forward to filling that role.


Weber said that last season was disappointing, but the team had new energy and was focused on returning to the playoffs. He liked the talent and depth on the team, and said the depth was much needed. Weber had a good off season and said one of the highlights was a deep sea fishing trip where he landed a 300 pound marlin.

After the players spoke, fans heard from management. pictured above are: Predators COO Sean Henry; Head Coach Barry Trotz; Predators Chairman Tom Cigarran; Predators President Jeff Cogen; and General Manager David Poile.

Highlights of their comments are:


Bridgestone Arena is one of the 10 most used arenas in the United States, and this is good for the Predators. Getting people into the arena increases awareness of the Predators and interest from the casual fan. This gives the team an opportunity to introduce those casual fans to hockey and the Predators.

A total of $20 million is being spent on improvements to the arena. In addition to the exterior improvements to the back entrance, the pro shop is being relocated to a street level venue and new restaurant and retail space is being added. New carpet in the suites and refurbishment to other interior areas will freshen up the facility.

This team has personality and will play hard and relentlessly. "The bite is back," said Trotz. In his estimation, the defense has the most upside of any group he has coached, which is high praise indeed. The addition of Phil Housley to the coaching staff will help the power play and he should be instrumental in developing some of the younger defensemen. The team has a good mix of veterans and younger, talented and hungry players. "I'm excited as hell about this team," said Trotz. Wow!


The Predators ownership group remains strong in their commitment to the team and to winning the Cup. They have fostered good relations with city leaders and have their support. They have developed strong ties with the business community and have strong leadership and support from businesses and corporations in Nashville. The owners are committed to having outstanding hockey leadership and believe they have that in place. Cigarran said that there is no firm commitment, but hopes that Nashville will have an All Star game within the next three years. In response to a question from the audience, he addressed the effects of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. He said that the new CBA makes revenue sharing more predictable and the amount that the team will receive is slightly larger than in years past. While this is obviously helpful, revenue sharing will not make or break the team. What will make the team sound financially is organic growth- support from the fans and the business community and that is stronger than at any time in the history of the franchise. The team has spent to near the salary cap and is comfortable with that level of spending.


The Predators have re-negotiated their lease with the city of Nashville, and the new term is for 20 years. This should put to rest any concerns and rumors about the team leaving Nashville. The relationship with the city is strong, and part of the capital improvements to the arena are being funded with contributions from the city. The Predators have also entered into a public/private partnership with the city to build a new facility with two sheets of ice where the Hickory Hollow mall is located. The goal is to have adequate facilities and ice around Nashville to accommodate the growth of hockey. Cogen said that the goal of the front office is to fill the arena every night, and that they would be innovative and energetic in the effort to do that.


David Poile said the team entered into the off season with five goals. They wanted to take care of the players on the roster and get them signed, which they have done. The team wanted to acquire a top 4 defenseman, which they did when they drafted Seth Jones. Adding talented forwards was a priority, and 4 free agent forwards were signed that will add physicality and scoring potential. Poile spoke highly of Viktor Stalberg, acquired as a free agent from Chicago. Poile believes Stalberg is on the cusp of becoming a very good player and has the talent and speed to add much needed scoring. He said the team wanted to re-gain their identity of being tough and gritty, and the addition of Eric Nystrom and Matt Hendricks helps to fill that need. Finally, he said that the team needed a back up goalie, and they filled that need with the signing of Carter Hutton. The team and goal tending coach Mitch Korn are high on Hutton and think he can fill that need. Poile said that historically, the road to a roster spot with the Predators went through Milwaukee, but that Seth Jones and Filip Forsberg have the talent to make a detour and land a roster spot with the team. He addressed the health of the injured players and said all are 100% healthy and have been cleared by team doctors to begin playing.

The excitement from the players and the front office personnel was palpable, and it was felt by those in attendance at the event tonight. The truth is, everyone is excited about their team at the start of the season. However, these are experienced and savvy hockey people, and I trust their judgment. I am looking for Predator hockey to return to the ice, and the depth and talent that this team has can bring that back to Bridgestone Arena.

It should be an interesting and exciting hockey season for Predator fans.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Petey's Preds Party A Huge Success

The annual Petey's Preds Party was held at Bridgestone Arena with over 1,000 people in attendance. The event has become a popular gathering for Predator fans that signals that the hockey season is beginning. More importantly, it is an event that raises a lot of money for Brent Peterson's Foundation for Parkinson's and the Predators Foundation.

A view of the arena before the guests arrive. in the foreground are some of the autographed guitars available for auction.

Numerous auction items were available, including autographed jerseys from players around the League.

Autographed Predator jerseys were some of the most popular items at the auction.
The man of the hour, Brent Peterson, with Mark Blake.

With the exception of the rookies, all the Predators players were in attendance.
I had a chance to talk with Gabriel Bourque at the golf tournament on Friday. Good news, Predator fans- he says his knee is 100% and he is back to full speed.

Pekka Rinne told me he is feeling good and close to full speed.

Patric Hornqvist and Craig Smith engaged in a deep conversation.

Kevin Nealon of Saturday Night Live fame was the featured entertainment. Here is Kevin with the Predators P.A. announcer Paul McCann and his son, Zach.

Predators fans browse the numerous auction items that were available.

Predators fans enjoying a delicious dinner.

Former Predator player Jamie Allison performed for the crowd. He was very good, performing a country ballad.

Predators Head Coach Barry Trotz addresses the audience.

Scott Hamilton did an excellent job as the Master of Ceremonies.

Sean Henry, COO of the Predators, gave the audience an update on the activities of the Predators Foundation.

Stu Grimson, left, and Gord Miller, right, of TSN getting ready to conduct a live auction for a road trip with the Predators for the opening games with St. Louis and Colorado.

Brent Peterson updates the audience on his health and the efforts of the Peterson Foundation for Parkinson's. His foundation has sponsored some breakthrough research at Vanderbilt Hospital.

Kevin Nealon delivered a hilarious stand up routine.

The radio broadcast team of Tom Callahan and Stu Grimson.

Tami Peterson, Brent's wife, with Pete and Claudia Weber.
The impact of the Peterson for Parkinson's Foundation and the Predators Foundation is significant. Brent's Foundation has provided funds to Vanderbilt hospital to support new research that is leading to new treatment methods and will hopefully lead to a cure for this disease. Sean Henry reported that even though last season was a shortened one due to the lockout, the Predators Foundation made over $600,000 in grants to community organizations. This was the largest annual distribution in the history of the foundation.
The medical breakthroughs and the benefit to the community that these Foundations provide is made possible through the generosity of Predators fans, who support their fund raising endeavors.
Our community is fortunate to have these Foundations that time and again have demonstrated their commitment to the betterment of the lives of those that live here.

Friday, September 6, 2013

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

The non-farm payroll numbers were released this morning, and the initial reading was that the economy created 168,000 jobs in July and that the unemployment rate stayed steady at 7.3%. Don't get caught up in the first reading of these numbers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) that compiles the data goes back and reviews and refines the numbers for accuracy. The July employment numbers were revised downward from 162,000 jobs created to 104,000 jobs. Keep in mind that to move the unemployment rate downward, our economy must be adding a minimum of 180,000 new jobs per month. As you can see by the numbers, job creation is falling woefully short of that number. Being the astute reader that you are, you just read that last sentence and said, "but wait, the unemployment numbers have fallen since the first of the year." And you are exactly right. How has that happened? Through the fact that the labor force participation rate (the number of working age individuals that are actually working or seeking work) has fallen to 63.2%. This number is the lowest participation rate in this country since 1978. In fact, in August, a whopping 516,000 people dropped out of the labor force. With a smaller base, it makes the unemployment numbers look better, but the reality is that there are a number of working age Americans that have exited the labor force. And the corollary is that there are fewer working Americans that are paying taxes to support the glut of government programs. This, my friends, is not a long term formula for economic growth and financial stability for our country.

I have finally found a diet plan that works. It's called "the cost of food."

Remember when socialized medicine, a.k.a. "Obamacare", was being rammed down our throats? Big labor was given unprecedented access into the crafting of this debacle, and many of the provisions were written with their best interest in mind. And we all recall when Nancy Pelosi told reporters that "we (Congress) have to pass this bill so we can find out what is in it." Well, now that big labor has found out what is actually in the bill, and they are wanting out from under this onerous piece of garbage. The AFL-CIO just lost 40,000 union members, those in the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. ILWU President Donald McEllrath, in a letter to AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, said, "President Obama ran on a platform that he would not tax medical plans and at the 2009 AFL-CIO convention you (Trumka) would not stand for a tax on our benefits." Labor unions blindly supported Obamacare before they knew what was in it, and their very generous medical plans have been in the crosshairs of the program and will be subject to extensive taxes. Now the unions want out. Trumka has now gone on record as saying that "mistakes" were made in drafting the legislation and that Obamacare needs to be "tweaked". Mr Trumka, the mistake that was made was foisting socialized medicine on people that neither wanted or needed it. Now that the labor unions have seen how awful this program is, they either want out or they want special exemptions. I ask you, dear reader, if you are not a part of big labor, who is representing you views and interests when this program gets "tweaked"?

The rumors have finally stopped flying around my office. They cannot get through airport security.

We all hear about inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), but what does it really mean and what comprises that index? I'm glad you asked. You can go here to see the composition of the index. While the number for August was up.2% keep in mind that the BLS excludes food and energy from the calculation, because their price movements are considered to be too volatile. Yet, outside of housing, the three largest expenditures for most households are- you guessed it- food, energy, and medical. Those cost have been rising consistently and substantially. So the next time you hear from a talking head that inflation is "benign" take a look at your check book and see if you agree.

My wife asked me how I can make so many mistakes each day. I told her I get up early.

And that, my friends, is my view.