Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Flash in the Pan(thers)?

For many investors, the term "high frequency trading" was not in the popular vernacular until the release earlier this year of Michael Lewis' book "Flash Boys". Lewis made headlines in late March with an interview on the television show 60 Minutes with the explosive claim that the markets are rigged in favor of the various high frequency trading firms since they can "front run", or execute their orders in front of orders from individual investors.

Since this accusation by Lewis, many if not all of the high frequency trading firms have come under intense scrutiny by regulatory authorities. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has announced an investigation into these firms. The Commodities Futures Trading Commission is also investigating along with the FBI.

Without going into the arcane details of high frequency trading, these firms can execute buy or sell orders microseconds before the average investor can, garnering fractions of cent on each order.

Now that doesn't sound like much, but when you consider that their trades typically involve millions of shares per trade, the profit potential is enormous.

One of those firms being investigated is Virtu Financial, which proudly proclaims that in 1,278 trading days, it only had one- ONE- losing day of trading.

Virtu Financial is owned by Vincent (Vinnie) Viola.

Hockey fans may recognize that name, as Viola bought the Florida Panthers this past September. Douglas Cifu, CEO of Virtu, is a co-owner.

The Panthers finished the just completed regular season with the second lowest average attendance in the NHL with 14,200 fans per home game. According to the team CEO Rory Babich and confirmed by a review of Broward County, the team is losing $25 million per year.

Because of these substantial losses, Viola has asked lawmakers in Broward County to take over the bond payments on BB&T Arena, which total $64 million over the next 14 years. Additionally, he has asked for concessions from the county that would total $14 million over the same period.

Obviously, this has put the legislators in Broward County in a difficult spot. According to Broward Mayor Barbara Sharief,

"If we lose the Panthers and the arena operator, we would devalue our asset. The building could stay vacant for six months out of the year. That is a significant loss."

Sharief estimates that the value of the arena would decline by 70% if Broward loses the Panthers. She also believes the arena would lose its concert promoter, Live Nation, and that the county would forfeit a $2 million annual state subsidy.

Virtu Financial had planned to go public and had expected to raise $200-250 million from their stock offering. Those plans have been shelved for the time being since the release of Lewis' book and the resulting negative backlash toward high frequency trading firms.

In its public filing, Virtu announced that it made $182.2 million on revenue of $664.5 million in 2013.

That public filing also revealed that Virtu identified a "material weakness" (legal speak for a very big problem) in its procedures for preparing accurate financial statements because of "a lack of reconciliations, a lack of detailed review, and insufficient resources and level of technical accounting expertise. There can be no assurance that we will remediate this material weakness or avoid future weaknesses or deficiencies."

That statement certainly does not engender a high level of confidence in the quality and accuracy of the financial condition of the firm.

According to the firm, additional help has been brought in to rectify the situation.

All of this calls into question the vetting of potential franchise owners by the NHL. Viola may turn out to be a stellar owner, but this scenario should make one wonder the background work done by the League as it works to stabilize troubled franchises with quality owners.

It also points out the leverage that owners have with the public/private partnerships that exist with a team being the major tenant in a publicly financed arena.

One would think that Viola would have the financial wherewithal to help make up these annual losses. With the request for relief from Broward County, it is apparent that Viola is not willing to inject personal funds to make up the shortfall and the bond payments. And remember, the payment on those bonds was known by Viola when he purchased the team.

Viola has the leverage with Broward County, and I would expect them to cave to his demands. It is troubling, though, to see a new owner claiming poverty so quickly after the purchase of the team.

Especially an owner that seems to mint money in the markets.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Predators Weber Named a Norris Finalist

After an excellent regular season campaign, Predators Captain Shea Weber was named as a Norris Trophy finalist for the third time. Here is the press release from the NHL:

Zdeno Chara of the Boston Bruins, Duncan Keith of the Chicago Blackhawks and Shea Weber of the Nashville Predators are the three finalists for the 2013-14 James Norris Memorial Trophy, awarded “to the defense player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position,” the National Hockey League announced today.

        Members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association submitted ballots for the Norris Trophy at the conclusion of the regular season, with the top three vote-getters designated as finalists. The winner will be announced Tuesday, June 24, during the 2014 NHL Awards from Encore Theater at Wynn Las Vegas. The 2014 NHL Awards will be broadcast by NBCSN in the United States and CBC in Canada.

        Following are the finalists for the Norris Trophy, in alphabetical

Zdeno Chara, Boston Bruins

        Chara led a Boston defense that paced the Eastern Conference and ranked second in the NHL in goals against (177), helping the Bruins capture their second Presidents’ Trophy in franchise history and first since 1989-90. He averaged a team-high 24:39 of ice time per game, nearly 3 minutes more than the next-closest player, and also placed in the top 10 among NHL defensemen in goals (17), plus/minus (+25), power-play goals (10) and game-winning goals (3). Chara is a Norris Trophy finalist for the sixth time, including the third time in the past four seasons, and won the award in 2008-09.

Duncan Keith, Chicago Blackhawks

        Keith led all defensemen with 55 assists and ranked second among blueliners with 61 points to power a Chicago offense that paced the NHL with 267 goals. He recorded his 40th helper of the season in his 46th game, becoming the fastest defenseman in franchise history to reach the milestone, and posted a career-long, eight-game assist/point streak from Nov. 19 to Dec. 3. Keith played a team-high average of 24:38 per game, topping the Blackhawks in ice time for the ninth time in as many NHL seasons. He is a Norris Trophy finalist for the second time after capturing the award in 2009-10.

Shea Weber, Nashville Predators

        Weber ranked first among defensemen with 23 goals and set a franchise record for points by a blueliner with 56, leading the Predators in scoring for the second consecutive season. He also paced all defensemen in power-play goals (12), ranked fourth in the League in average time on ice
(26:54) and set a career high in shooting percentage (11.8%). Weber got better as the season progressed, posting 14-20—34, three game-winning goals and a +11 rating in the final 42 games of 2013-14. He is a Norris Trophy finalist for the third time after finishing as runner-up for the award in both 2010-11 and 2011-12.


      The James Norris Memorial Trophy was presented in 1953 by the four children of the late James Norris in memory of the former owner-president of the Detroit Red Wings.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

Whether we like it or not, America is an empire, casting its influence across the globe. That influence can be economic, as we have enjoyed the benefits of capitalism and thus the world's strongest and most resilient economy throughout the majority of our history. That influence can also be from the projection of our military might that has served to stabilize volatile regions and as a peacekeeping force.

Now, you may not agree with this assessment of our nation as an empire, but our country fits the classical definition.

Looking at history, we know that all empires eventually come to an end. They may not be destroyed (although some were), but their power and influence is greatly diminished (think; Great Britain).

So if we are going to learn from history, we should ask, "How does an empire collapse?"

The most obvious is that is vanquished by stronger nations or empires. More often, however, empires collapse from within as vision, purpose, resolve, and vitality are diminished if not eliminated.

What are the processes that bring about these conditions?

Here are some that I think play a major role in the collapse of great empires.

Each institution in the system of governance loses sight of its original purpose of serving the people and becomes self serving.

Serving the common good as the driving ethos behind the function of governmental entities is replaced with a drive for bigger budgets and greater power irrespective of results. We see this happening with the power of the EPA, the IRS, and the Bureau of Land Management to name a few. These changes do not typically happen overnight, but incrementally as more power and money is ceded to these entities and control is wrested away from the people they are supposed to serve.

Self serving institutions select leaders whose skills are not competency or leadership, but the ability to con others.

Sounds like most any politician, especially the current occupant of the White House. Democrats and Republicans have become glib spinmeisters that are proficient with words and sounds bites but have little substance. We are told that things are running well when in reality they are failing. No greater example of this if found in the proclamation that Social Security is solvent, when in reality it is bankrupt. This spin crosses into nearly every are that the government touches.

Institutional memory and tradition prohibits and punishes innovation and creative solutions to problems.

Difficult problems require bold, innovative, and sometimes painful solutions. Entrenched institutionalism makes it difficult if not impossible to bring these types of solutions to fruition. The internal resistance to change, especially radical change, is enormous. Instead, there is more doing of what has already failed spectacularly.

Incompetence is rewarded; competence is punished.

Lois Lerner, Eric Holder...need I say more. Cronies and con artists are promoted to leadership positions and then they are subservient to those that put them in those positions, serving their wishes rather than the common good. While this type of behavior happens in every political system to some degree, it becomes toxic when the leadership ranks are comprised of almost exclusively these types of people.

The cost to run the system rises dramatically, making the entire system extremely fragile.

Building in higher costs because of increased debt and burgeoning social programs makes the political infrastructure vulnerable to a drop in revenue (taxes) The solution is never to cut expenditures but to raise taxes on the people and businesses that are productive.

The voice of the people is ignored as elites and highly vested interests control the decision making process.

When the voice of the people is marginalized or ignored, decisions are made in response to the demands of those that have access and represent vested interests. This makes the decisions narrowly focused on those interests and estranges those that have to live with the consequences of those decisions. This is often the way unrest or even rebellion is fomented within a seemingly stable society.

I'm certain there are many other factors or conditions that come into play when an empire falls or a great  nation sees its power and influence significantly curtailed. Yet, if one looks at history, some if not all of these factors are threaded throughout their demise.

And if this sounds forebodingly like our country today, then you are an astute observer of our current condition.

And that, my friends, is my view.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

My View

It goes without saying that life is messy. The road we all walk is often chaotic and strewn with doubts, fears, and woes.

At times, those struggles can overwhelm us. There is often no relief, no balm for our crushed spirits.

Worst of all, we can feel alone with our grief, our burdens, and our struggles.

Yet we are not alone.

There is one that has walked our road, one that has felt physical pain beyond description; one that carried burdens that were not His; one that in his hour of greatest need was abandoned by those closest to Him.

The message of Easter is that we do not walk our road alone. Instead, we walk with one that understands our physical pain; one that understands our grief and emotional hurts; one that knows what it feels like to be abandoned and alone.

The rising of the sun on that Easter morning tells us emphatically that the rising of the Son signifies that no matter what burdens we are carrying, no matter the depth of our despair, we have one that understands and stands with us.

Easter and the risen Son doesn't mean that we will be without pain, loneliness, and hurt.

No, we will still experience those on our road we are walking.

Instead, Easter signifies that we will not walk alone. We have one that walks with us that understands our hurts and longings. We have one that empathizes with our suffering.

And he will never let us walk alone.

That is the hope that Easter brings to all of us. A hope that never fails because the one walking with us never fails.

This Easter, may we all take hope in the one that walks with us.

And walk closer to Him.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Playoff Picks: The First Round

That most wonderful time of the year, playoff hockey is here. The excitement among all hockey and especially fans of those teams in the playoffs is palpable.

So who is going to come out of the first round? The View is here with his fearless prognostications. Let's start with the West...

Anaheim vs. Dallas

The Ducks roll into the playoffs having captured the number one seed in the Pacific Division and playing some very good hockey. Led by Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry up front, the Ducks can score goals in bunches. A solid blue line helps limit scoring opportunities from opponents. This solid squad also is using the emotional fuel of Teemu Selaane's retirement at the end of the season to drive them toward the Cup.

If the Ducks have one chink in their armor, it has been the spotty play of Jonas Hiller. In fact, the Ducks may open with Frederik Andersen in net. While Hiller seems to have lost his mojo, he is still capable and whether it is Hiller or Anderson in net, the Ducks will be hard to beat.

That is not to say the Stars will not give them a tussle. Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn lead the way up front; Kari Lehtonen is going to have to be spectacular in net; and the Stars blue liners are going to have to lock down the Ducks forwards.

Think this is just a bit too much to ask of this vastly improved Stars Squad.

Ducks in 6

San Jose vs L.A.

War. This matchup will be an absolute war between two teams that don't like each other. The level of physicality out of this series is going to be amazing.

The Kings have resorted to playing lock down defense andgrinding out goals. They have offensive talent up front with Anze Kopitar, Justin Williams, and Jeff Carter, but have struggled to score. The Sharks have had balanced scoring, and along with the big names of Marlea and Thornton have seen players like Tommy Wingels, Logan Coture, and Tomas Hertl step up the offensive effort.

The difference makers in this series will be in net. We have all seen how Jonathan Quick can turn a series and a Cup run for the Kings. Antii Niemi has shown flashes of brilliance in San Jose but has not had the ultimate success that he had in Chicago. For the Sharks to win this series and make the run to the finals, he is going to have to elevate his game.

Niemi plays solid and the Sharks have too much firepower for the Kings.

Sharks in 7

Colorado vs Minnesota

The Avs are entering this series with some significant injuries, as Matt Duchene is going to miss some time with an injured knee. The Wild have a relatively healthy squad, although the turnover in net for them this season has been significant. Ilya Bryzgalov mans the pipes and the team hopes to get Darcy Keumper back to backstop Bryzgalov.

Even with Duchene out of the lineup, the offensive firepower that the Avs will bring will be too much for the Wild. Lacking the offensive punch of the Avs, the Wild will attempt to rely on a stingy defense and solid goaltending.

It won't be enough.

Avs in 5

St. Louis vs. Chicago

These teams played some ferocious playoff series in their history, and I expect this one to be just as nasty. Both teams have shown that they can score, but the Blues have a bit more nasty in their game than the Hawks. Controlling that edge and emotion will be critical for the Blues, because if they are spending too much time in the box, the Hawks will make them pay.

The Hawks bring Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane back into the lineup after sitting out the end of the season with injuries. Expect the Blues to go right after them.

The Blues enter this round on a skid after losing their last 6 games of the season. Ryan Miller, acquired from the Sabres, suddenly looks very average. Miller is going to have to regain his form from his early appearances with the Blues, because the hawks are going to fire a ton of rubber at him.

This is a close call, but I believe the more physical play of the Blues will be disruptive to the Hawks game, and the Blues have enough offensive talent to go along with their bruising style of play.

Blues in 7

And now on to the east...

Boston vs Detroit

The Bruins are probably the best built team in the East, balancing scoring, solid defense, and good goaltending into a President's Trophy season. That said, the Detroit Red Wings are making their 24th consecutive appearance in the playoffs, so they know what it takes to win both in the regular season and after.

The Wings gave the Bruins fits this year, capturing wins in all their matchups. This Wings team is not as explosive offensively as teams past, and this will be even more so with Henrik Zetterberg out of the lineup. This means that the Wings are going to rely on their puck possession game and attempt to limit the Bruins potent and balanced offense.

For the Wings to win this series, he is going to have to outplay Tuuka Rask and steal some games. I think the Bruins attack steps up several levels from their regular season contests and it will overwhelm Howard and the Wings blue line.

Boston in 6

Tampa Bay vs. Montreal

This contest between two surprisingly evenly matched teams will most likely go the full 7 games. For the Lightning, their concern has to be in net as season long starter Ben Bishop is out with an elbow injury and back up Anders Lindback gets the call. Lindy has shown he can play very solidly in net, but this is the playoffs, and the pressure is going to ramp up markedly. How he handles that will go a long way to determining if the Bolts advance.

Carey Price gives the Canadiens a decided edge in the pipes. He better hope that he gets some help in front as he will face not only the prowess of Steven Stamkos, but also the emerging talent of Alex Killorn, Ondrej Palat, and Tyler Johnson.

This series is going to hinge on the play in net, and I am leaning toward the experience of Price.

Montreal in 6

Pittsburgh vs Columbus

The Pens swept the season series with the Jackets, taking all 5 games. Keep in mind that that Sergei Bobrovsky only played in one of those games for the Jackets. Also keep in mind that there are numerous questions swirling around the play of the Pens Marc-Andre Fleury in goal.

So if you have two teams that have some questions about their netminders, one has to look at the skaters to see who will determine this series. And one has to start with the Penguins and their forwards, led by Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. These two, along with Chris Kunitz and the other Pens forwards are going to put significant pressure on the Jackets throughout the series. Not that the Jackets are going to roll over for the Pens, but I believe there is too much horsepower for the Penguins and it will eventually wear down the Jackets.

Pittsburgh in 6

New York Rangers vs. Philadelphia

Steve Mason, who has seen a resurgence of his career in Philadelphia, will not start the first game due to an injury. Ray Emery gets the start, and although he has labored in the role of the backup this season, there isn't much drop off in numbers and performance.

He will be tested as the Rangers have a balanced attack that can score from all lines. Henrik Lundqvist will face challenges in the Ranger net as the Flyers use their size and physical presence to create space for talented scorers like Claude Giroux.

I expect this series to get ugly and nasty fast, and the team that wins will be the one that doesn't make the stupid mistake.

That team will be...

Philadelphia in 7

There you have it friends. Time to let the fun and games begin.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Scenes From the Road: Minnesota

I had a chance to travel to Minnesota to see the Predators take on the Wild in the final game of the 2014 season.

Here are some scenes and thoughts from the road:

This is the Herb Brooks statue outside one of the entrances to the Xcel Energy Center, the home ice of the Wild.

The Xcel is a beautiful arena, attached to another civic venue that contains several auditoriums and meeting rooms. The building uses a mountain cabin motif on the inside, with the concession stands having exposed wooden beams on their facades. There are numerous concession stands and food options around the concourse.

Being in the Great White North, some of the offerings included a walleye fish basket and fried cheese curds along with several kinds of poutine.

Fans lined up at the main entrance just prior to opening the gates.

The Hobey Baker Award was on display on the main concourse. You can't see it in this picture, but pictures of the past winners were on display as well, including former Predator Blake Geoffrion.

Inside the Xcel Center before the fans started to arrive. The lower bowl area is huge, larger than in Bridgestone Arena. The capacity of the arena is 18,628 for hockey.

The arena quickly filled up, and this is just before puck drop. Met some really nice fans, but this was the quietest full arena that I have ever seen. Very little energy in the building. Listening to their public address announcer made me really appreciate Paul MCann, the PA for the Predators. Paul brings energy and enthusiasm, something the Wild's PA lacked. Game ops at the Xcel do nothing on the video boards of the jumbotron to engage the crowd, something the Predators crew does very well.

Ran into the best broadcasting tandem in the NHL prior to the game. We are fortunate to have these two guys in the booth.

This was the team hotel, the St. Paul, a few blocks from the arena. The St. Paul is a historic hotel in downtown and an exceptional facility.

Charles Schulz was born in Minneapolis, and this sculpture was across the street from the hotel. You may recognize Peanuts characters Marcie on the bench, Peppermint Patty in the background, and Woodstock perched on the bench by Marcie's shoulder. The Xcel Center had several peanuts characters around the concourse clad in Wild Sweaters. In the background is the Xcel Center.

I had a chance to visit with Wild owner Craig Leipold the day after the game. He had a lot of good things to say about Nashville and the growth of the game and the fan base in the city and was glad to see the success of the franchise. While his departure was not the best at that time for the franchise nor conducted in the best of circumstances, he is responsible for bringing and NHL franchise to Smashville.

The Wild do a good job of building on the success of high school and college hockey in the state, and they have tapped in to that energy from those fans.

This is a great venue to watch hockey with good fans, and it is a road trip that I would encourage Predator fans to make.

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Barry Trotz I Knew

The Nashville Predators have fired their first and only Head Coach, Barry Trotz.

That action has been and will be dissected for some time, and the pros and cons of that decision will be passionately debated among the fans of the team.

Trotz has been described as a good coach that couldn't get the team over the hump, a coach that had a difficult time developing offense, and yet a coach that got the most out of what he was given.

As a person, he was described as classy, thoughtful, considerate and caring.

He was all of those things and more.

I want to share a story that epitomizes the person, not the Coach, that was Barry Trotz.

A friend of mine and myself have made it a goal to see the Predators play in every NHL arena. So far, we have made 24 barns to see the Predators play. On every trip, we stay in the same hotel as the team and we have an opportunity to visit with the players and the coaching staff on occasion. Trotz in particular always made it a point to visit with us when he saw us on the road.

A few years ago, we made a trip to Raleigh to watch the team on Saturday night and then were going to Columbus on Sunday for a Monday game. Trotz saw us and visited with us in Raleigh and asked if we were going to go to Columbus as well. Since we fly commercial and follow after the team, we told him that we would catch up to them on Sunday and that we would fly home on Tuesday.

We got to the team hotel and were preparing to go to dinner when we got a phone call in our room. It was from Brandon Walker, the coordinator of hockey operations on the road for the team.

He said that Trotz appreciated our support (we had made trips following the team for several years) and the he (Trotz) wanted to know if we wanted to fly back with the team right after the game.

You know our answer was absolutely yes!

Now, I am not relating this story to brag. We were honored to be asked to come back with the team.

I am telling you this to tell you what happened next.

The game was a frustrating 2-0 loss to the Jackets, who were in our division at the time. Trotz and the coaching staff were not happy with the play of the team, and it was evident on the ride back home.

We got back from the game about 1:00 in the morning and landed at the charter terminal that the team uses.

Since we had not expected or prepared for this, our car was parked on the other side of the airport, which meant that we were going to have to call a cab to get over to our car and get home.

While we were waiting to get our bags off the plane and call a cab, someone tapped me on the shoulder.

It was Barry, and he asked where we were parked.

We told him that we were on the other side of the airport in an off site lot and were going to call a cab.

Trotz said, "No you aren't. Throw your bags in my car and I will run you over there."

After a disappointing loss and very early in the morning, an NHL Head Coach was concerned about two guys getting to their car and getting home.

He drove us to our car, all the while talking about what we wanted to talk about and concerned about us.

He took time to take care of just a couple of fans that were supporting the Predators.

This story is indicative of the type of person that Barry Trotz is. He always thought of others first and lived outside of himself.

The legacy of Barry Trotz as a coach of the Predators is written. A player's coach, a coach that was successful and got the most out of his teams.

His legacy as a person is far greater.

He will be remembered as a selfless individual that gave immense time and effort supporting charities around Middle Tennessee. He is a loving and devoted father.

And he is a person that cared immensely about other people.

And that is how I will remember him.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Predators Win a Wild One Against the Blackhawks

Two games to go in the season, games that are meaningless for the Nashville Predators. The first of those games would be at Bridgestone Arena against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Would the Predators mail it in against the powerful Hawks?

Absolutely not!

The Predators won a wild affair 7-5 in front of a capacity crowd that was almost evenly split between fans of both teams.

Until a Shea Weber empty net goal sent the hawks fans scrambling for the exits.

Both teams combined to score 7 goals in a wild third period. The Predators scored twice in the final minute to seal the win.

Chicago scored the first two goals of the game as Ben Smith and Marian Hossa tallied for the Blackhawks.

The ice was decidedly tilted in favor of the hawks until Craig Smith scored a beautiful goal off his faceoff win. he went top corner on Antti Raanta to make it 2-1 at the end of the first period.

Ryan Ellis tied the game at the 6:32 mark of the second period.

Matt Carey scored his first NHL goal to give the Hawks a 3-2 lead at 13:16 of the second period.

That set up a wild third period.

Matt Cullen tied the game, chipping in a rebound of a Mike Fisher shot. Colin Wilson put the Predators in the lead for the first time as he slapped home a rebound of a Shea Weber shot.

The game was tied at 4 by Jeremy Morin at the 8:00 minute mark of the third period.

Paul Gaustad gave the Predators a 5-4 lead, taking a pass from Craig Smith and blowing a shot from the slot past Raanta.

The Predators could not hold the lead as Andrew Shaw beat Pekka Rinne with a slap shot at 18:25 of the third period.

Looking like the game would go to overtime, the Predators refused to relent and pressured Raanta and the Hawks defense. That effort paid off as Patric Hornqvist drove the net a potted a rebound of a Matt Cullen shot at 19:01 of the third period.

Shea Weber sealed the win with an empty net goal at 19:46.

Some observations:

  • The Hawks had a tremendous advantage in zone time in the first period. The Predators rarely visited the offensive zone and Rinne was forced to deal with a lot of traffic in front of his net. The Hawks generally created havoc in front of the Predators netminder throughout the game and did a good job of taking away Rinne's vision on some of their goals. Rinne was not especially sharp tonight, but dis make some big saves during the course of the game.

  • Raanta had a relatively easy first period, but when the Predators started getting shots on goal and driving the net, he was unable to handle the pressure. The Predators did a good job in the final 40 minutes of getting shots on goal and driving the net for rebounds.

  • Patric Hornqvist has a goal and an assist tonight to give him 52 points for the season, a career high. Hornqvist has 17 points (9G-8A) in his last 10 games.

  • Shea Weber also set a career high of 55 points (22G-33A) with a goal and an assist tonight.

  • Weber joins Hornqvist and Craig Smith as team leaders in goals, each with 22.

  • Pekka Rinne picked up his 10th win of the year.

  • Marian Hossa did not play for the Blackhawks after the first period.

  • The Predators are 8-1-2 in their last 11 games. The captured the season series with the Hawks, winning 4 of 5 contests.
This was a resilient, character win for the Predators. They could have easily rolled over, going down 2 goals in the first period.

Instead, the battled and never quit.

This is something to build upon in the coming season.

My three stars:

1. Patric Hornqvist

2. Craig Smith

3. Paul Gaustad

Friday, April 11, 2014

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

If you have listened to new Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen speak, she has consistently voiced a concern over a lack of inflation. She has said that increasing inflation to around 2% is the goal of the Federal Reserve.

That same sentiment is echoed by Christina LaGarde, the Director of the International Monetary Fund. LaGarde, in a news conference this week, said that one of the primary financial problems across the globe was "low-flation" (her term), meaning that inflation was not increasing fast enough.

Now friends, I have to ask you, why would such important monetary bodies want to increase inflation? Why is inflation so important to the Fed and the IMF?

First off, let's define inflation.

In simplest terms, it is the rate at which prices for goods or services are rising AND the purchasing power of the currency is diminishing.

For inflation to take effect, both conditions must exist. Understanding this is critical for you, me, and especially policy makers. Sometimes prices rise because there is so much demand for a product or a service. This is the fundamental economic principal of scarcity, and when there is less of a good, prices will rise until either more of the good is produced or buyers find a substitute.

Rising prices in that instance aren't necessarily bad. That shows a growth in demand and the capacity to pay what the market will bear for the price, generally signs of a healthy economy.

Inflation, however, occurs when prices begin to rise and the value of the currency- it's buying power- is being diminished.

If a soft drink costs $1 and inflation is running at 2% per annum, then next year, it will cost $1.02 (this is a sterile example just to prove the point).

So...back to the question:

Why does the Fed and the IMF want inflation?

There are a number of reasons, but I will offer my take on this.

Inflation raises the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) because it raises prices on everything. When prices rise, so does the GDP of a country, and this eventually leads to more tax revenue for the government. A company could sell $1 million worth of product in a zero inflation environment and their taxes would be assessed on that $1 million.

Let inflation rise 5% the next year, and although the company sold the same amount of product, their revenue in now $1,000,050. That extra $50,000 in revenue (artificially created by inflation) is now subject to tax.

Another aspect of this is that the value of the dollar based on purchasing power is declining.

Think about this: if you borrow $1,000 from your bank, you want that money to buy $1,000 worth of stuff. Now say inflation is rapidly increasing, rising by 10% before you make your first payment. You bought stuff with you money where each dollar you borrowed bought $1, but since inflation is rapidly rising to 10%, you are paying back your debt with dollars that are only worth .90.

As a borrower, you won.

Now look at the U.S.

We have printed $4 TRILLION new dollars over the past 5 years. We have sold those to investors (in essence, we borrowed their dollars from them), and we will begin to pay back those debts in the near future.

Think the U.S. wants to pay off their massive amount of indebtedness with dollars that are worth less than what was borrowed?

So do I.

And it is not just the U.S. that has engaged in this practice, but just about every other nation in the world.

Now this all sounds abstract and quite possibly dull, but here is how this impacts you and me.

As prices rise and the purchasing power of our currency falls, it takes more of those cheaper dollars (because of inflation) to maintain our standard of living.

Not increase.

Just maintain.

Now couple decreased buying power with an economy that is not producing quality jobs and one wherein real incomes have fallen nearly 10% since 2008, and you have a formula for an economy that is stagnating and families are struggling to make ends meet financially.

You have the United States.

So now when you hear the Fed's spokesmen speak about raising the level of inflation, know this simple fact: they are taking away your purchasing power and negatively impacting your standard of living.

Now, I fail to see how this policy objective benefits the majority of Americans. In fact, if the officials at the Fed were honest, they would tell you that it doesn't.

Instead, it is the only way out of a financial mess of their own creation, and even that may not work.

Keep this in mind as you struggle to make ends meet and the next time that you are told increasing inflation is a good thing.

Because it is certainly not.

And that, my friends, is my view.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Predators Have Some Fight Left, Defeat the Coyotes 2-0

The playoffs will not happen for the Nashville Predators this season.

That doesn't mean that their remaining games are meaningless.

The Predators defeated the Phoenix Coyotes 2-0 at Bridgestone Arena, and showed they still have a lot of fight and pride in their game. They managed to send the crowd home happy on fan appreciation night and in the process dealt a damaging blow to the Coyotes playoff chances.

A scoreless first period saw the Predators turn the puck over several times in the defensive zone and give the Coyotes several good scoring opportunities. Pekka Rinne was strong in net and kept the Coyotes off the board with his play in net.

It took the Predators 7 minutes to record their first shot on net.

Once the Predators got their skates going, they managed to limit chances by the Coyotes and get some chances of their own.

After a scoreless first period, the Predators got on the board first off a shot from Craig Smith on the power play. With the man advantage about to expire, Smith skated in from the face off circle and used the Coyote defenders to screen Thomas Greiss. Smith let a wrist shot go that Greiss never saw and beat him top shelf for the game's first goal at 10:26 of the second period.

Patric Hornqvist made it 2-0 at 9:26 of the third period as Greiss stopped Hornqvist's first shot, but he got his rebound and shoveled it past the pad of Greiss.

The Predators locked down the Coyotes in the remainder of the game with Rinne making some solid saves to preserve the shutout.

Some observations:

  • Rinne recorded his second shutout of the season and his 32nd career shutout. he stopped all 29 shots he faced, and with the win moved in first place for all time wins by a Predator goalie with 162. His win tonight moved him past Tomas Vokoun, who had the record with 161 wins.

  • Patric Hornqvist and Craig Smith both tallied their 21st goal of the season.

  • Smith played a strong game. He skated well and fired 9 shots at the net, with 5 of them getting on goal. Smith has rebounded nicely from a dismal season last year and has shown that he can be a consistent producer and an offensive threat.

  • Former Predator Marty Erat played his 800th game tonight skating for the Coyotes. he played 723 of those with the Predators.

  • Patric Hornqvist now has 50 points, one shy of his career high set in the 2009-10 season. Hornqvist has 15 points in his last 9 games (8G-7A).

  • Ryan Ellis led the Predators with 4 blocked shots.

  • Matt Cullen picked up an assist on Hornqvist's goal and now has 13 points (3G-10A) over the last 9 games.

  • Mike fisher also had an assist tonight and has 10 points 3G-7A) over the last nine games.

  • Shea Weber led the Predators with 26:27 TOI.
This was a solid win for the Predators against a team that was desperate. It was heartening to see the boys compete as hard as they did when it would have been just as easy to roll over.

The playoffs aren't happening, but that doesn't mean there aren't things to be accomplished before the end of the season.

This is the kind of effort the Predators need to close out the season.

My three stars:

1. Pekka Rinne

2. Craig Smith

3. Patric Hornqvist

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Predators Stopped By the Stars in a Shootout

The Nashville Predators are in desperation mode. Not yet mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, the Predators have to win out and get some help from teams in front of them.

Their first step in the process was to capture a win at the American Airlines Center against the Dallas Stars.

The Predators did not start well, looking sluggish to open the game and giving up a goal to Alex Goligoski at 2:23 of the first period. A defensive breakdown allowed Goligoski an open shot, and he took advantage of the miscue to blow a shot past Pekka Rinne.

Gabriel Bourque tied the game with a blast from the slot at 1:22 of the second period as he blasted a shot from the slot past Kari Lehtonen.

The Stars took a 2-1 lead at 8:18 of the second period as another defensive breakdown led to a Stars 2 on 1 break, and Jamie Benn capitalized.

Bourque tallied his second of the game at 10:24 of the third period as Paul Gaustad won a puck battle in the corner and snapped a pass to Bourque in the slot. Once again, Bourque stepped in a shot a beat Lehtonen to tie the game.

The Predators had to kill 1:38 of a two man advantage with Shea Weber and Victor Bartley in the box and did a great job on the penalty kill.

The remainder of regulation and overtime were scoreless, and so the Predators faced another shootout. In 10 shootouts this season, the Predators were 2-8.

And once again, the shootout was the nemesis for the Predators, as they lost in four rounds by a 2-1 margin. Roman Josi scored for the Predators, while Vernon fiddler and Tyler Seguin scored for the Stars.

Some observations:

  • After a blowout in their last meeting, the Predators played a much better game against the talented Stars. However, they took nearly 9 minutes to register their first shot on goal in the contest. The Predators have to have better starts in they are going to win against talented teams.

  • Gabriel Bourque has skated with good jump lately. he has always played hard, but has seemed to have an extra gear in recent games. While this hasn't been the season Bourque or Predator fans have wanted, his late resurgence hopefully bodes well for the upcoming season. This was Bourque's first two goal game in is career.

  • The Predators penalty kill while the Stars had a two man advantage was all heart. Rinne and the defense in front of him refused to fold in the face of the Stars attack.

  • The Predators out shot the Stars in regulation 26-23. Lehtonen and Rinne both made some good saves during the course of the game. I liked the way the Predators attacked the net after their slow start. Lehtonen kept the Stars in the game with his strong play.

  • The line of Calle Jarnkrok, Craig Smith, and Gabriel Bourque was broken up in the third period with Paul Gaustad moving into Jarnkrok's center position. Jarnkrok had 11:39 of ice time tonight and with the exception of Rich Clune (8:26) had the lowest amount of ice time among the Predators forwards.
Tough loss for the Predators, one that will eliminate them from the playoff race.

The compete level was there, but they couldn't capture the win. Now we will see how this team competes in the last three games of the season.

My three stars:

1. Gabriel Bourque

2.Jamie Benn

3. Alex Goligoski

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Predators Stop the Sharks 3-0

Who are these guys?

After struggling to generate offense much of the season, the Predators have suddenly found their offense.

After destroying the Anaheim Ducks the night before, the Predators erupted for 3 goals in the second period of their game against the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center on the way to a 3-0 victory.

The story of this game was Carter Hutton, who picked up his first NHL shut out with this win.

A scoreless first period saw the Sharks control the attack and put 9 shots on Carter Hutton. Hutton was solid and made some good saves to keep the Sharks off the board.

The Predators got just 5 shots on Antii Niemi.

The teams reversed roles in the second period as the Predators took the puck to the net and peppered Niemi with pucks. Patric Hornqvist scored twice and Roman Josi tallied on a beautiful rush to the net to give the Predators the lead.

The Predators out shot the Sharks 12-7 in the second period.

The Sharks were going to push back in the third period and Hutton made some good saves to protect the Predators lead. The Sharks outshot the Predators through the first six minutes of the third period by a 9-1 margin.

It would get worse for the Predators as they were back on their heels and their ability to pass the puck abandoned them. Their play in the third period was as atrocious as it was good in the second period.

Hutton was called upon to make some outstanding stops and keep the Sharks off the board, and he got some help as the Sharks hit the post twice in the first 10 minutes.

The Predators held on behind the play of Hutton and stymied the Sharks for the remainder of the period to capture the win as well as the season series with the Sharks.

Some observations:

  • The Predators welcomed Seth Jones and Paul Gaustad back to the line up. Gaustad missed the previous 7 games while Jones had missed the last 5.

  • Patric Hornqvist scored his first goal doing what he does, fighting for the puck in the hard areas in front of the net. His second goal was a wicked wrist shot from the slot that blew past Niemi. Hornqvist's two goal give him 20 for the season.

  • The Predators now have four 20 goal scorers this season: Hornqvist; Shea Weber; Mike Fisher; and Craig Smith.

  • Roman Josi's goal was a thing of beauty. he used his speed to blow past a Sharks defender and put the puck on Niemi. The Puck bounced off Niemi but was kicked in by a Sharks player coming back to help. Regardless, Josi showed some great speed and puck handling ability to tally his 12th goal of the season.

  • Hutton was outstanding, especially in the third period where he was under siege. He stopped all 19 shots in the third period and 35 for the game to pick up his first NHL shutout. Hutton is now 15-5-2 in 2014.

  • The Predators showed some fatigue as this was the second game of a back to back, but they were entirely too sloppy in the third period. They had trouble getting the puck out of the zone and could not connect on their passes, and this allowed the Sharks to control play for the entire period. This speaks to the kind of effort from Hutton tonight, because the Sharks threw everything they had at him in the third.

  • The Predators swept the season series with the Sharks 3-0.

  • The Predators are now 35-32-11 for the season.
This team has picked up two wins against quality opponents, and have scored 8 goals in the process.

Like I said, who are these guys?

Whomever they are, I like them.

My three stars:

1. Carter Hutton

2. Patric Hornqvist

3. Roman Josi

Friday, April 4, 2014

Predators Step On the Ducks 5-2

The Nashville Predators have struggled on offense this season. The Anaheim Ducks have scored goals in bunches.

In their contest in Anaheim, the team reversed roles, as the Predators exploded for four first period goals on their way to a 5-2 victory over the Ducks.

The first period was one where the Predators attacked the net with a vengeance. The Predators got 9 shots on Ducks netminder Jonas Hiller and capitalized on 4 of those shots by driving the net and making life miserable for Hiller. They banged in 4 goals including two by Colin Wilson.

Mike Fisher and Patric Hornqvist also tallied for the Predators.

That effort chased Hiller from the game and Frederik Andersen entered the game for the Ducks.

Kyle Palmieri got the only goal of the period for the Ducks on a defensive breakdown that resulted in Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne having no chance on the shot.

The second period opened with the Ducks applying pressure and getting a goal from Daniel Winnik to make it 4-2.

The Predators answered that goal with Mike Fisher's second goal of the night to make it 5-2. Shea Weber hammered a shot that appeared to hit Andersen in the mask and stun hi,. The puck dropped to the ice in the blue paint and Fisher slapped home the rebound.

Andersen did not return to the game and was not on the bench in the third period as Hiller returned to the game.

Rinne made some excellent saves, some from point blank range to keep the Ducks off the board.

With no scoring in the third period, the Predators skated away with a solid win over a potent Ducks squad.

Some observations:

  • The Predators opened the game with good jump and were relentless in going to the net. hiller was giving up rebounds and the Predators capitalized on those opportunities, beating Ducks defensemen to the pucks in prime scoring position.

  • The Predators power play was 0-3, but the penalty kill was excellent, killing all 4 power plays for the Ducks.

  • Fisher's two goals give him 20 for the season.

  • The Ducks have shown they can score goals. Witness their comeback from a 4 goal deficit against Winnipeg. The Predators defense did a good job of containing the Ducks scorers, holding Corey Perry to 2 shots on goal, while Ryan Getzlaf and Teemu Selaane each had 1 for the game. The Predators held the Ducks to just 5 shots in the third period.

  • The Ducks had a goal disallowed after review in the second period. The puck was rattling around in a goal mouth scramble, and the review showed no proof the puck crossed the goal line. Another apparent goal was waved off by the on ice officials and was not reviewed.

  • Rinne had a very good game. The Ducks got some excellent chances from close in in the first two periods, and Rinne made some solid saves.

  • This was the kind of game that Predator fans had been hoping to see all season from Colin Wilson. He skated well and went to the prime scoring areas. Hopefully this is the kind of game that we will see consistently from Wilson.

  • Weber's shot that hit Andersen in the mask was a rocket that stunned him. He couldn't find the rebound that Fisher put home for the 5th goal. Andersen was obviously hurt by that shot as he was not on the bench for the third period.

The Predators need to continue to play like they did tonight. This kind of effort can be something positive on which to build for the coming season.

They get their chance to build on this tomorrow night at San Jose.

My three stars:

1. Mike Fisher

2. Colin Wilson

3. Pekka Rinne

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

"The urge to save humanity is almost always a false face for the urge to rule it."
- H.L. Mencken
Astute observers of what is going on in our country today know that there is a push to consolidate power in Washington. And any consolidation of power by the government means there is less personal freedom for the governed.
One of the greatest power grabs in the history of our nation occurred with the introduction and passage of Obamacare. Just this past week, Obama and his minions trumpeted that 7 million people had enrolled in the socialized health care program.
Not so fast.
A study by the Rand Corporation debunks that myth. According to Rand, approximately 2 million people have enrolled in Obamacare that were previously uninsured. All others that have enrolled in Obamacare previously had insurance but were forced into the program because employers had dropped coverage.
Think about that for a moment.
Our elected leaders in Washington have disrupted the entire health care system to provide coverage for approximately 2 million uninsured people..
The whole point of Obamacare was to lower costs and to provide coverage for those that did not have any insurance.
And Obamacare has failed miserably on both objectives.
Think back to when this boondoggle was being debated. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that nearly all Obamacare enrollees would be previously uninsured individuals or families. We now know that is not the case.
This program would not have passed if the truth about it was displayed so all could make an informed decision. Instead, it has been built upon the lies of Democrats and their liberal supporters in the media, and an obtuseness and opacity that are breathtaking (remember Pelosi's infamous "we have to pass it to see what is in it" line).
But the problem we are facing in our country today is not just with the debacle that is Obamacare. It is with most if not all government programs and agencies. We have all seen stories of government agencies running roughshod over citizens. The EPA has in many instances disregarded individual landowner rights; creditor rights have been blatantly ignored in the General Motors bankruptcy, and the list goes on of rights and freedoms that have been illegitimately curtailed by our government.
The Mencken quote at the start of this blog is prescient and oh so applicable to our day. Under the guise of attempting to "do good" Washington has usurped and limited our rights and freedoms. The conceit of those in power is that they know what is best for us. And in knowing what is best, they need more power to take care of us.
I disagree.
We have a choice today.
We can continue to let Washington encroach on our freedoms. We can continue to let them foist wasteful programs on us and take our treasure to pay for it. We can continue to allow a supposedly "elite" group of leaders to control our lives.
Or we can push back.
We can engage and begin to limit the power of Washington. We can get our freedoms back and stop the legislative creep that occurs every day that binds us further with restrictive laws and rules.
But it takes our engagement, our voice, and our action.
Fail to do so, and we will awaken to find our freedoms gone and this country resembling the old Soviet Union.
The choice is ours.
And that, my friends, is my view.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Predators Problem: Philosphy, Personnel, and Preparation

The struggling Nashville Predators are going to miss the playoffs for the second consecutive season. That has prompted rumblings among the fan base that it is time for head Coach Barry Trotz, General manager David Poile, or both to go.

Fans are disgruntled over the lack of offense, the perceived strictures of the Predators "system" on the ice, and the frustrating lack of high end talent that is in the system or currently on the ice.

To some degree, all those criticisms are accurate.

To some degree.

To understand where the Predators are today and how they got there, it is instructive to look at the developmental philosophy of this team, one that has been consistent from day one of the franchise; the personnel on the roster now and in the system; and the preparation of those players by the coaching staff.


From day one, the Predators have been a team built from the net out: solid goaltending, a quality blue line, and forwards that played a good two way game. From the inaugural season until today, the Predators have been consistent with that philosophy and have had success with it.

After the formative years that saw a rag tag bunch of castoffs win 28 games, the Predators steadily built on solid goaltending and the development of young defensemen to become a more competitive team. That philosophy paid huge dividends in the 2003 draft, which saw the team pick up Ryan Suter, Keving Klein, and Shea Weber. All emerged into solid defenders with Weber and Suter becoming elite blueliners. Pekka Rinne was drafted in 2004 and developed into a solid goaltender for the Predators.

Consistent with that philosophy was the drafting and acquiring of forwards that could play a consistently good two way game. Defensive responsibility was as important as offensive creativity and production.

Perhaps more so.

It became the "Predator Way"- be hard to play against and shut down the other team.

And while every coach in the League will say that playing a solid game in all zones is critical, every coach will also tell you that you cannot win if you don't shoot the puck and score. Now that blinding flash of the obvious may seem...well, obvious, but the fact remains that successful teams have players that can play offense as well as defense.

Has the Predators philosophy, the "Predators Way" of being tough to play against hurt the team and limited its success?

It certainly has this season as the foundational component of the Predator Way, goaltender Pekka Rinne, was felled with an infection that caused him to miss 51 games. As such, the team has struggled, playing .500 hockey and finding themselves well out of the playoff race.

Beyond that, though, the free agent acquisition of Predator type players- gritty and defensively responsible- along with the existing roster, could not score enough goals to overcome the loss of Rinne. In fact, the Predators are tied for the ignominious honor of having been shut out the most times this season.

Clearly, the philosophy of defense first can be a foundation for success.

But it cannot be the only component of a successful team.

Which brings us to...


In looking at any hockey team, there are three components of personnel: the drafting/development of talent; the evaluation of existing players on the roster and potential acquisitions; and the management of the players on the roster at the NHL level.

The imprimatur of General Manager David Poile is on all these areas.

There are numerous metrics to evaluate a GM, but in my view, one of the most important is the drafting and development of talent, which has been something the Predators have focused upon since their inception.

Since the Predators entered the League in 1998 and through 2010 (an arbitrary cutoff since those players drafted after that date are still very early in their development process), the Predators have drafted 66 forwards.

Of those 66 forwards, 15 have played 100 games in the NHL, a 23% "success" rate. I used 100 games because that usually means a player is good enough to stick around the League if he passes that threshold.

Some of these players are still on the Predators roster (Hornqvist, Smith, Wilson, Ellis) while others have been traded or retired. (The entire history of the Predators draft picks can be found here).

As a point of comparison, over the same time period, the Chicago Blackhawks drafted 78 forwards and 27 of them played at least 100 games. That is a success rate of 35%.

There are other teams that have done worse than the Predators in the development of players to become NHL ready, but the successful teams have a higher rate of developing players into NHL caliber assets.

For a team that does has not historically spend freely in free agency, scouting, drafting, and developing players is critical. And while the Predators have done a superb job of drafting and developing NHL ready blueliners, the performance in drafting and developing forwards has been suspect.

Which leads to free agent signings, which every team uses to plug holes in their roster.

With a few notable exceptions, the Predators have not been big players in the free agent market or at the trade deadlines. This past summer, Poile signed Matt Hendricks, Eric Nystrom, Matt Cullen, Viktor Stalberg, and Carter Hutton. The merits of those signings, specifically term, dollars, and no movement clauses have come under criticism from fans.

While the jury is still out on Stalberg, Cullen, Nystrom, and Hendricks were just more of the same for the Predators, who needed upper echelon scoring.

The Hutton signing bears mentioning, as this was a huge gamble by Poile. The status of Rinne's health and durability after major hip surgery was unknown, and the decision to go with an unproven player with 1 game of NHL experience as his backup was foolish. And it bit this team. I believe that Hutton will be a capable NHL goaltender, but to enter the season with the team's number one netminder questionable and no experienced backup was a high risk/low reward scenario

Poile has extricated himself from the awful Hendricks contract and has made some astute trades to bring in younger, offensively gifted players that will hopefully provide the boost to scoring.

And this team will need to have those players on the roster if they are going to succeed in the Western Conference.

Which brings us to how this roster is utilized by the coaching staff.


Fans are grumbling about the defense first system that the Predators play, saying it stifles offensive creativity and production.

It very well might, but every team that is in the playoffs this year will talk about their system and playing solid defense first. In fact, watch any game in any round and the premium is on being hard to play against and playing sound defense.

Sounds a lot like the "Predator Way" doesn't it?

Head Coach Barry Trotz has been the only coach this team has had, and he has undoubtedly done an excellent job of getting the most out of the talent he has been given, which at times hasn't been much. And he has the players on his roster playing all out most every night.

If the players quit on this coach and the staff and were not giving their best effort, I would have genuine concern. If it appeared Trotz had "lost the room", I would be at the front of the line saying it was time for change.

That doesn't appear to be the case.

But that is not to say that there aren't concerns with how the team is handled. Notably, the tendency to reduce the ice time of potential offensive producers because of defensive gaffes. Fans of the team have seen players get in the doghouse and have their ice time reduced or worse yet, seen those players relegated to healthy scratches. Reducing ice time is an effective strategy to get a players attention, but it certainly seems the leash is awfully short for some players.

Managing a team over the course of an 82 game season is a fluid process. Injuries move players in and out of the lineup, and sometimes I am baffled by the line combos and the placement of certain players on certain lines. But the only measure I have as a fan in the stands is the compete level- is the team still competing for the coach?

It appears to me they are.

Can more be squeezed out of the players on the roster?

I would certainly like to think that players like Colin Wilson, Gabriel Bourque and others can produce at a higher level.

Can they do that with Trotz as the Head Coach?

I don't know.

Trotz has shown that he can coach scorers and a highly productive offense, as he did with a team that included Paul Kariya, Steve Sullivan, and others that produced 106 points in the 2005-6 season and 110 points in the 2006-7 season.

So the question becomes has Trotz lost his touch or has this team been built in such a way that it doesn't have the talent to produce?


The way this team is currently constructed requires playing their system perfectly. If they do not, if Rinne, Hutton, or whomever is in net struggles, then the probability of a win is low if non-existent. If the defense breaks down, the team struggles. There is not enough offensive firepower to consistently overcome a deficit on the scoreboard.

More troubling is the lack of offensive talent that can take control of a game. The Predators lack forwards that can skate the puck into the zone when faced with pressure, resulting in a dump and chase game that too often has seen the team lose the puck battles necessary to get control and create chances.

This points to the fact that an over emphasis on the "Predator Way" has resulted in a group of forwards in particular that cannot generate offense consistently. Yes, they are gritty and hard to play against, but offense has been sacrificed for grit.

More troubling, the Predators front office has shown a tendency to draft those type of players. Their upside is limited to third or fourth line duty. The Hockey News ranks the current group of players in the system as a C-, further evidence that elite offensive players are lacking in the system. In fact, the only Predator player that made THN's future 50 Watch was Filip Forsberg, acquired in a trade from the Washington Capitals.

If the foundation of this team is to draft and develop players, this does not bode well for the future of this team.

Irrespective of who is behind the bench.

Teams like the Blackhawks and the St. Louis Blues have done a good job of drafting and developing players that can play in all zones and have shown significant offensive upside. Much of their recent success is a direct result of this effort.

The Predators have not kept pace.

And until that changes, this team will continue to struggle.