Fisher banking on idea that two more years enough to win a Cup

It is not actually a deadline.

It does feel that way, though.

If Mike Fisher is ever going to win a Stanley Cup as a player, it must happen during the next two seasons. That’s the length of the new contract he signed with the Nashville Predators on Friday and, given that he is 35 years old, it very well could be his last.

“I don’t want to look too far down the road,” he said. “I’m not 21 anymore and we’ll see what happens. I want to win in the next two years. That’s my goal and that’s what I want to help this team do. Then we’ll see after that.

“But I’m happy to be here for the next two.”

Fisher will earn $4.8 million in 2015-16 and $4 million in the second season. That currently makes him the team’s second highest paid forward behind James Neal ($5 million per season through each of the next three).

The deal all but assures that when Fisher plays his 1,000th NHL game, it will be as a member of the Predators. He enters the coming season with 946 career appearances — all with two franchises (675 with Ottawa, 271 with Nashville).

“I know I have great friends that have kind of bounced around all over and it’s hard on family, it’s hard on them,” Fisher said. “So I think definitely I’ve benefited. They’ve made me feel real comfortable here.”

Neither place made him a Stanley Cup champion, though.

Fisher has been to the postseason 10 times in his 15 NHL seasons. He came close to getting his name engraved on the Cup in 2007, when Ottawa reached the finals but lost in five games to the Anaheim Ducks.

Nashville never has gotten past the second round of the playoffs. In fact, the Predators have advanced that far just twice in eight postseason appearances.

“It’s such a hard deal to do and win,” Fisher said. “Obviously, I’ve been at it for a long time and haven’t been able to do it. I see our situation as the best chance I’ll have. With our good young core and guys getting better and being able to add players, I think we’re going to have a great shot.”

Either way, it is likely to be his last shot.

(Photo: Getty Images)
 

Jun 26, 2015 12:14 PM

Far from trophy finalists, Forsberg, Weber end up on All-NHL teams

For two months Nashville Predators executives, teammates and fans had to believe that Filip Forsberg was close – excruciatingly so – to being a Calder Trophy finalist.

That’s because anyone who supported the 20-year-old throughout his first full NHL season found it unbelievable that he was not one of the top three vote-getters for the award, which were announced in April, that goes annually “to the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition in the National Hockey League.”

He was, in fact, fourth, one of three Predators who failed to crack the top three but did rank among the top five for individual awards.

The belief that Forsberg received serious consideration, however, was shattered Wednesday when Florida’s Aaron Ekblad was named the 2015 Calder Trophy winner at the NHL Awards show.

Forsberg (pictured), it turned out was a distant fourth. His 594 points in voting by members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association were only slightly more than half that of third-place Johnny Gaudreau of Calgary (1,026). By comparison, Gaudreau fell just 121 points shy of Ekblad.

TOP ROOKIES
A look at the top five in voting for the 2015 Calder Trophy (first, second, third, fourth and fifth-place votes in parentheses):

1. Aaron Ekblad, FLA 1147 (71-39-24-12-8)
2. Mark Stone, OTT 1078 (47-49-46-11-2)
3. Johnny Gaudreau, CGY 1026 (33-57-48-19-0)
4. Filip Forsberg, NSH 594 (6-9-37-91-13)
5. John Klingberg, DAL 127 (0-2-1-15-63)

Defenseman Shea Weber and Roman Josi were fourth and fifth, respectively, for the Norris Trophy (best all-around defenseman). Weber has been a finalist three previous times and a runner-up twice. Josi also finished 11th in voting for the Lady Byng Trophy (ability and sportsmanship).

DOMINANT DEFENSEMEN
A look at the top five in voting for the 2015 Norris Trophy (first, second, third, fourth and fifth-place votes in parentheses):

1. Erik Karlsson, OTT 964 (44-42-33-19-8)
2. Drew Doughty, LAK 889 (53-30-20-13-10)
3. P.K. Subban, MTL 801 (24-36-38-37-8)
4. Shea Weber, NSH 614 (26-19-28-20-21)
5. Roman Josi, NSH 222 (3-9-11-17-23)

The night was not a total loss for either of Nashville’s fourth-place finishers.

Forsberg became the first Nashville player named to the NHL’s All-Rookie team.

YOUNG GUNS
The 2014-15 NHL All-Rookie team:

GP W L OT GAA SV% SO
G Jake Allen, STL 37 22 7 4 2.28 .913 4

GP G A PTS +/- TOI/G
D Aaron Ekblad, FLA 81 12 27 39 +12 21:48
D John Klingberg, DAL 65 11 29 40 +5 21:50
F Filip Forsberg, NSH 82 26 37 63 +15 17:19
F Johnny Gaudreau, CGY 80 24 40 64 +11 17:43
F Mark Stone, OTT 80 26 38 64 +21 17:01

Weber was named a second-team NHL All-Star, the fourth time he has earned All-Star recognition. He’s been a first-team All-Star twice (2011 and 2012) and now a second-team All-Star twice (2014 and 2015).

TOP GUNS
The 2014-15 NHL All-Star teams:

GP W L OT GAA SV% SO
G Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens 66 44 16 6 1.96 .933 9

GP Mins. G A Pts
D Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators 82 27:15 21 45 66
D P.K. Subban, Montreal Canadiens 82 26:12 15 45 60
C John Tavares, New York Islanders 82 20:40 38 48 86
RW Jakub Voracek, Philadelphia Flyers 82 18:35 22 59 81
LW Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals 81 20:19 53 28 81

2014-2015 NHL Second All-Star Team
GP W L OT GAA SV% SO

G Devan Dubnyk, Minnesota Wild 58 36 14 4 2.07 .929 6

GP Mins. G A Pts
D Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings 82 28:59 7 39 46
D Shea Weber, Nashville Predators 78 26:22 15 30 45
C Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins 77 19:58 28 56 84
RW Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis Blues 77 17:37 37 36 73
LW Jamie Benn, Dallas Stars 82 19:56 35 52 87

(Photo: Getty Images)

Jun 24, 2015 10:05 PM

Rinne is Vezina Trophy runner-up for second time in five years

Truthfully, the best Pekka Rinne could have hoped was to finish second in voting for the NHL’s Vezina Trophy.

That’s exactly what happened when the award for the “goalkeeper adjudged to be the best at his position” was presented Wednesday at the annual NHL Awards show.

The Nashville netminder got 26 votes, including one for first place, from the NHL’s 30 general managers. His 15 second-place votes were more than twice as many as any other player but he still finished a distant second to Montreal’s Carey Price, the night’s big winner.

Price also won the Hart Trophy (most valuable player), the Ted Lindsay Award (most outstanding player as voted by players) and was key to the fact that the Canadiens shared the Williams Jennings Trophy (fewest goals allowed by a team) with the Chicago Blackhawks.

Rinne finished eighth in Hart Trophy voting.

Price earned 27 first-place votes. He was the only goalie named on all 30 ballots – the three that didn’t vote him first had him second.

This was the third time Rinne was a Vezina finalist, which tied him with defenseman Shea Weber for the most in Predators history. Weber was a three-time runner-up for the Norris Trophy (best defenseman), most recently a year ago.

Rinne also was the Vezina runner-up in 2011 and finished third in 2012.

RESULTS
A look at the Vezina Trophy results (first, second and third-place votes in parentheses):

1. Carey Price, MTL 144 (27-3-0)
2. Pekka Rinne, NSH 60 (1-15-10)
3. Devan Dubnyk, MIN 28 (1-4-11)
4. Braden Holtby, WSH 26 (0-7-5)
5. Henrik Lundqvist, NYR 6 (1-0-1)
6. Corey Crawford, CHI 3 (0-1-0)
7. Andrew Hammond, OTT 1 (0-0-1)
Jonathan Quick, LAK 1 (0-0-1)
Cam Talbot, NYR 1 (0-0-1)

(Photo: Getty Images)
 

Jun 24, 2015 7:56 PM

Laviolette finishes third in voting for NHL's top coach

Peter Laviolette made the Nashville Predators better in his first year as head coach but did not do the NHL’s best coaching job in 2014-15.

That honor went to Calgary’s Bon Hartley on Wednesday, when he was named the Jack Adams Award winner at the annual NHL Awards show. The Jack Adams Award goes annually to “the NHL coach adjudged to have contributed the most to his team’s success.”

Laviolette was named on 29 of the 75 ballots cast by members of the NHL Broadcasters’ Association. He got six first-place votes, 14 second-place votes and nine third-place votes.

That made him a finalist (top three) by a slim margin. Winnipeg’s Paul Maurice also was named on 29 ballots and had six first-place votes but finished two points shy of Laviolette. New York Rangers coach Alain Vigneault was the runner-up.

The Predators won 47 games and had 104 points in 2014-15 and made the playoffs for the first time in three seasons. The point total matched the third highest in franchise history and the win total equaled the fourth highest.

Laviolette’s predecessor in Nashville, Barry Trotz, was a two-time Jack Adams finalist. He was runner-up in 2009-10 and finished third in 2010-11.

Trotz, now the coach of the Washington Capitals, finished fifth this year.

RESULTS
A look at the Jack Adams Award results (first, second and third-place votes in parentheses):

1. Bob Hartley, CGY 237 (37-13-13)
2. Alain Vigneault, NYR 121 (14-13-12)
3. Peter Laviolette, NSH 81 (6-14-9)
4. Paul Maurice, WPG 79 (6-13-10)
5. Barry Trotz, WSH 36 (2-5-11)
6. Dave Cameron, OTT 25 (2-4-3)
7. Mike Babcock, DET 18 (3-1-0)
8. Jon Cooper, TBL 18 (1-3-4)
9. Willie Desjardins, VAN 17 (1-3-3)
10. Jack Capuano, NYI 16 (2-1-3)
11. Gerard Gallant, FLA 6 (1-0-1)
12. Mike Yeo, MIN 6 (0-2-0)
13. Bruce Boudreau, ANA 5 (0-1-2)
Michel Therrien, MTL 5 (0-1-2)
15. Ken Hitchcock, STL 4 (0-1-1)
16. Randy Carlyle, TOR 1 (0-0-1)

(Photo: Getty Images)

Jun 24, 2015 7:25 PM

Predators' home opener will be against an Eastern Conference opponent -- again

The Nashville Predators’ 2015-16 home opener will be Oct. 8 against the Carolina Hurricanes.

It will be the second straight season and the third in the last four seasons, including the lockout-delayed 2012-13 campaign, the team has opened against an Eastern Conference opponent.

Prior to that such matchups have been uncommon, although the first game in franchise history (also the first home game) was against an Eastern Conference opponent, the Florida Panthers.

The NHL announced the home opener for all 30 teams on Wednesday. The complete 2015-16 regular season schedule will be revealed Thursday morning.

FOR STARTERS
A look at how the Nashville Predators have done in regular-season home-openers against Eastern Conference opponents:

2014-15: d. Ottawa 3-2
2012-13: lost to Columbus 3-2 (SO)
2000-01: d. Washington 3-1
1998-99: lost to Florida 1-0

It should be noted that Nashville’s first ‘home’ game 2000-01 was against Pittsburgh, a 3-1 loss. That, however, was a technical distinction. The game was played in Tokyo as part of a two-game set to kick off that season.

The Predators’ first contest at Bridgestone Arena that season was against Washington.

The league instituted a scheduling format prior to 2013-14 that guarantees each team from one conference will play home and away against every team from the other conference. For Western Conference clubs, that means 32 of their 82 games are against teams from the Eastern Conference, which greatly enhances the possibility that one of those games will kick off things.

For Nashville, that’s now two out of three.
 

Jun 24, 2015 1:51 PM

Lawsuit details alleged sexual assault by Ribeiro against nanny

A former nanny for Nashville Predators center Mike Ribeiro and his wife, Tamara Williams, alleges in a lawsuit that the NHL veteran repeatedly made unwanted advances and “sexually assaulted” her over roughly five years, including a period of time when Ribeiro and Williams were divorced.

The plaintiff began to work for Ribeiro and Williams when she was 12 years old and many of the incidents detailed in her suit, filed Thursday in Texas, occurred when she was younger than 18.

OnTheForecheck.com obtained copies of the suit and published the court papers Friday.

Some of the lurid actions alleged in the filing include:

• “Mike acted strangely toward [her] throughout all of the years she babysat the children. For example, she saw him staring at her with his hands down his pants many times when she was in the living room playing games with the kids while Mike was in the same room watching television.”

• “Mike also found ways to touch [her] backside by purposely walking behind her while she was doing dishes in the kitchen.”

• The plaintiff also described several particular incidents, including one in 2012, shortly after Ribeiro was traded to Washington, when she said Ribeiro crawled in bed with her while she was asleep.

• Williams, the suit alleges, did nothing to stop the inappropriate actions when she was made aware of them.

The suit originally was filed in February. Ribeiro and Williams denied the allegations in legal response in March, which included a request for a more definitive statement from the plaintiff. That prompted Thursday’s amended complaint.

The timing is terrible for Ribeiro, who is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the month.

He was considered a character risk when Nashville signed him to a one-year, $1.05 million contract last July, but he became one of the team’s better players (a team-high 47 assists) and an important presence in the locker room.

It is unlikely Nashville or any other team will want to sign him again until there is some resolution to this case.

(Photo: Getty Images)

Jun 19, 2015 10:10 PM

Predators must wait longer than usual to get started in NHL Draft

Unless they make a deal between now and then the Nashville Predators will have to wait longer to make their first pick this year than in all but one of the previous 17 NHL drafts in which they took part.

The combination of their best record in three seasons and an in-season trade with Toronto for defenseman Cody Franson and center Mike Santorelli means Nashville’s first choice in 2015 will be 55th overall. The Predators gave up this year’s first-round pick, veteran forward Olli Jokinen and prospect Brandon Leipsic on Feb. 16 to acquire Franson and Santorelli, two players they originally drafted.

The NHL announced the complete 2015 NHL Draft order Thursday.

PREDATORS’ PICKS
A look at the seven picks Nashville currently holds in the 2015 NHL Draft:

Round 2: 55 overall
Round 3: 85 overall
Round 4: 100 overall (from San Jose)
Round 4: 115 overall
Round 5: 145 overall
Round 6: 175 overall
Round 7: 205 overall

The only time the franchise went deeper into a draft before it got a player was 2006. That year the first of five selections came at 56th overall, and Nashville used it on forward Blake Geoffrion.

Geoffrion was the only player from the 2006 draft to make any sort of contribution to the Predators. He had six goals and five assists in 42 games before he was traded to Montreal. Shortly thereafter, his career ended prematurely because of an injury.

This year’s selection process sets up better than that one. The Predators still have their own picks in Rounds 2-7 plus an extra fourth-round choice from San Jose, acquired in a deal during last year’s draft.

The 2015 NHL Draft will take place June 26 and 27 at Sunrise, Fla.

Jun 18, 2015 9:14 PM

Timonen's 'long journey' ends with Stanley Cup celebration

Those who are still bitter that the Chicago Blackhawks knocked out the Nashville Predators in the first round of the playoffs can take solace in the fact that Kimmo Timonen went out a winner.

The veteran defenseman concluded his 15-year NHL career, which began with Nashville during the inaugural 1998-99 season, by hoisting the Stanley Cup as a member of the Blackhawks. He almost did not play this season because of blood clots discovered last summer but decided he had to make more run at it.

Chicago won its third championship in six years when defeated Tampa Bay 2-0 in Game 6, but it was the first title for Timonen, who was traded to the Blackhawks by the Philadelphia Flyers late in the season and who still ranks as one of Nashville’s all-time best players and good guys.

"It's been a long journey," Timonen said, according to USA Today. "I can tell you that. Last August I didn't know if I could play anymore, but my desire was so deep inside that I wanted to give it one more shot. But obviously doctors said, 'Hold on boy.'"

Chicago captain Jonathan Toews made good on a pregame promise and handed the Stanley Cup first to Timonen, who played in three of the six Stanley Cup finals games and 18 of the Blackhawks’ postseason contests this year.

“He said, 'Holy something,' and he skated off really fast," Toews said. "I kind of expected him to get fired up, maybe raise his heart rate a little bit this morning. ... It's awesome. It's awesome to win but also more than anything to win for guys like that."

Originally a 10th round draft pick (250th overall) in 1993, Timonen played 1,108 NHL games, the first 573 with the Predators. He became the third captain in franchise history when he got the job at the start of the 2006-07 season and is the team’s fourth all-time leading scorer with 301 points (79 goals, 222 assists).

He said he started to get emotional Tuesday when the Blackhawks went up by two goals late in the third period.

“I was crying a little bit," Timonen said. "Tears were coming out of my eyes because I knew it would be hard to score two goals against (our) team.

"I don't know what to say. … It's been unreal."

(Photo: Getty Images)

Jun 16, 2015 2:34 PM

Predators' latest goalie prospect doesn't look, think like others

Juuse Saros can’t see over opposing players the way so many recent Nashville Predators goalies do.

That’s OK, though, because the fourth-round pick in the 2013 draft can see into the future, so to speak. His ability to read and anticipate the play more than compensate for his 5-foot-11 frame and make him someone the Predators consider a top prospect.

Saaros signed an entry-level deal with Nashville on Tuesday and will play in North America this fall after two seasons in the Finnish Elite League.

“Our scouts really believe that he is so much ahead of the play that he anticipates and he’s waiting and he takes away angles and shots,” assistant general manager Paul Fenton told the Nashville Post recently. “And he can control rebounds. He’s about as elite a mind as we’ve ever had. … It’s hockey sense. It’s sense for the game. It’s the way he just processes everything. This kid has that type of mindset where you make a play and he’s already waiting for you over there.”

Nashville selected Saros 99th overall in 2013. In prior years, the franchise drafted 6-foot-4 Marek Mazanec (sixth round, 2012), 6-foot-5 Magnus Hellberg (second round, 2011) and 6-foot-6 Anders Lindback (seventh round, 2008).  All have backed up 6-foot-6 Pekka Rinne.

“You’ve seen what our track record has been over the years,” Fenton said. “We’ve drafted bigger goaltenders but this is the exception to the rule. I really believe that he could some day be a starter in the NHL.

“He’s one of those guys that can really read the play and yet he doesn’t cheat. It’s just knowing where it’s going and he’s waiting for it.”

Saros became the fourth goalie in 40 years named Rookie of the Year in Finland’s top league when he went 16-16-8 with a 1.76 goals-against average and a .928 save percentage in 2013-14. Last season he was 13-18-16 with a 2.14 goals-against average and .929 save percentage.

The 20-year-old was Rinne’s backup for Finland and the 2015 World Championships. He stopped all 22 shots he faced in his only appearance, a victory over Slovenia during pool play.

“Our guys think that this kid has one of the most elite minds of anyone we’ve ever drafted,” Fenton said. “We think that this kid can be a star goaltender.”
 

Jun 16, 2015 11:41 AM

Timonen relishes final opportunity to play for Stanley Cup winner

Thus far, Kimmo Timonen’s only chance to be part of a Stanley Cup champion was ruined by the Chicago Blackhawks.

Now, the veteran defenseman’s last chance to play for a winner is as a member of the Blackhawks.

The 40-year-old whose NHL career started with Nashville and who remains one of the franchise’s all-time greats talks about the end of his career as this year’s Stanley Cup finals is ready to start. The Blackhawks and Tampa Bay Lightning begin their seven-game series Wednesday (7 p.m., NBC).

From the Philadelphia Daly News:

“After everything I went through, this is the reason - and the only reason - that I came back," Timonen said. "We still haven't won anything, but we have a really good chance to do something special. It would be a perfect way to leave this game."

Nashville traded Timonen to Philadelphia in 2007 and he was with the Flyers in 2010 when they lost to Chicago in the Stanley Cup finals. He remained with that franchise until late this season when he was dealt to the Blackhawks at the NHL’s trade deadline despite the fact that he had not played a game during the regular season. Blood clots had kept him out since the start of training camp.

He appeared in 16 games down the stretch for Chicago and was in the lineup for their first 15 playoff games, including all six of the first-round series with Nashville.

He was a healthy scratch for the final two games of the conference finals with Anaheim, which creates a little drama about his situation, if the Blackhawks win their third Cup in six years. In order for a player’s name to be engraved on the Stanley Cup he must play at least 41 regular season games or one Finals game for the winning team.

"Am I frustrated and kind of surprised at that? Yeah, oh yeah," Timonen said about being a healthy scratch. "But this isn't about me. It's about the team and winning and I've got to be ready if there's a chance I play in the Finals. I'm going to stay positive and help this team any way I can. But it's been tough. I can't lie to you."

Timonen played 573 games for Nashville, which is a little more than half of his career total (1,108) and ranks fourth in franchise history. He also is one of only four players ever with at least 300 points with the Predators and ranks second only to Shea Weber in career power play goals (66).

Next season he plans to take a job in Philadelphia’s front office but for now he is happy he joined the team he and the Flyers could not beat back in 2010.

"It was a long battle for me to get to this point," he said. "I'm going to try to enjoy every minute of it. I know it's going to end in two weeks, either way."

(Photo: Getty Images)

Jun 3, 2015 3:01 PM