In this week's massive Scene Best Of issue, I preview the Preds season. Even though Peter Laviolette brought a new look and a new style to the team in 2014-15, success stems from where it always has for Nashville:
But as ever with Nashville, it comes back to Rinne. If he can stay healthy and stay at the top of his game all the way through the season, the Predators should compete for the Central. In the preseason, scoring wasn't a problem, and Forsberg eased any fears of a sophomore slump, continuing to rifle pucks like Lucas McCain armed with a Winchester.
But the Central is still hockey's toughest division. Last season, Dallas was the second-highest-scoring team in the league and had the NHL's leading scorer, and they finished next-to-last in the division, ahead of Colorado, the defending divisional champ, who finished with 90 points and 39 wins. That's 19 more points and nine more wins than any other last-place team. The division also includes Cup champ Chicago, defending divisional champ St. Louis, perennial nearly-men Minnesota and Winnipeg, who made the playoffs and would have been the shock of the Central but for Nashville's resurgence.
"Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose," the saying goes. Even a newly tooled Nashville team faces the same hurdles it always did, and the key to winning is still the same guy wearing the mask and the number 35. The Preds could be better than last year, and still finish worse.
Rosters for the NHL's All-Star game won't be announced until Saturday, but the Nashville Predators know they'll already have three representatives at the game January 25 in Columbus.
One set of coaches for the game is that of the reigning Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings, but the other is determined by the league's best point percentage through tomorrow's games.
With the win Thursday night against Dallas, the Predators (27-9-4) jumped to the top of the NHL in points and have been tops in points percentage for some time. With games in hand on most of the league, the Preds are guaranteed to still lead the NHL in points percentage, no matter the outcome in Saturday's 1 p.m. matinee against the Wild in St. Paul.
Forbes is out with its annual list of NHL franchise valuations. (No surprise at the top — it's Toronto!) The average NHL franchise saw an 18.6 percent increase in value, fueled by the new Canadian TV deals, and is now worth about $490 million. The Predators are the 24th most valuable franchise in the 30-franchise league, per the study, at $250 million, but that's an increase of 22 percent from the number of last year.
Meanwhile, the Preds' TV partner, Fox Sports Tennessee, tweeted that ratings are up 88 percent against last year's numbers for the surging team's games.
The Nashville Predators have renewed their affiliation with the East Coast Hockey League's Cincinnati Cyclones for the coming season. The two teams have worked together sinec the fall of 2007 and Preds Assistant GM Paul Fenton calls the Cyclines "a model of consistency."
So the National Hockey League's owners and players have come to terms on a new 10-year labor agreement. Many details still need to be worked out, but Dirk Hoag writes that it looks like the Predators' relationship with revenue sharing could change. Meanwhile, ESPN's Scott Burnside laments that it took so long to find an agreement on what was supposed to be a "tweak and a fix" and worries about some of the corporate support that has left for other sports properties.
Never mind the rest of this season in terms of generating new ad money or sponsorships, most businesses have already moved into commitments for later in their fiscal years, which would coincide with the start of the 2013-14 NHL season.
McDonald's (in the United States) was supposed to be a key NHL sponsor with an ad campaign tied to the Winter Classic, All-Star Game and other high-profile events, but it moved on and signed a two-year deal with the NFL after the lockout started.
SEE ALSO: Cool moves, a look at the NHL's CBA dynamic from our April 2012 magazine
Local radio personality Adam Davis and station WRVW-107.5 The River have parted ways in the wake of a lawsuit filed by Davis against the Nashville Predators, radio industry news outlet AllAccess reported yesterday.
Davis, better known as Intern Adam, sued the Predators in August, claiming they were responsible for a broken ankle he sustained during a “human hockey puck” stunt. According to AllAccess, Davis hasn't been on the radio in the nine weeks since he filed the lawsuit.
“It's been a very emotional nine weeks being in limbo and not knowing my future,” Davis told AllAccess. “But now it's certain that I can find a microphone somewhere else, be it in Nashville or wherever, and continue to bring the entertainment that Intern Adam has provided for years.”
The Predators challenged Davis's lawsuit, claiming he failed to take “reasonable and ordinary care” for his safety during the stunt. The Predators included a jury demand in their response to the lawsuit.
No further filings have taken place since the Predators' response.
The NHL's lockout is now well into its first week and at least two franchises — Florida and Ottawa — have announced staff cuts to offset the loss in revenue if actual games are canceled.
Multiple sources told NashvillePost.com that employees at Bridgestone Arena — including those employed by the team, as well as its arena management arm, Powers — were told in a staff meeting that the work stoppage would not result in layoffs here.
That information was confirmed by Predators President and COO Sean Henry.
During the lost season of 2004-05, the Predators had massive layoffs. Only two NHL teams weathered that work stoppage without layoffs: the Tampa Bay Lightning — where Henry was COO — and the Dallas Stars — where CEO Jeff Cogen was president.
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