It wasn’t Phil Housley’s record as a high school hockey coach (good as it was) that appealed to David Poile two years ago when the Nashville Predators general manager wanted to make a change to his coaching staff.
It was Housley’s 23-year career as an NHL player, an undeniably distinguished run by any standard.
Monday, that career got the ultimate stamp of approval from the entire hockey world. Housley was one of five former players and seven individuals overall named to the 2015 Hockey Hall of Fame induction class.
“I am absolutely elated to be entering the Hockey Hall of Fame as part of the class of 2015,” Housley said in a release from the Hall of Fame. “One glance at the legends who have already been enshrined proves that this really is the ultimate honor for a hockey player.”
The No. 6 overall pick by Buffalo in 1982, he played 1,495 games for eight different teams in a career that lasted until 2002-03. He was a member of 13 NHL playoff teams, appeared in seven NHL All-Star Games and won a silver medal with the United States at the 2002 Winter Olympics.
Housley had 338 goals and 894 assists for 1,232 points. He is the third all-time leading scorer among NHL defensemen and the second all-time leading scorer among U.S.-born players, regardless of position.
He joined the Nashville staff as an assistant coach in 2013 under former head coach Barry Trotz and was the only staff member retained when Peter Laviolette replaced Trotz last season.
Before coming to Nashville, Housley was a high school coach in nine seasons at St. Paul High School in Stillwater, Minn. (he was 109-109-21) and a regular part of U.S. national teams at international competitions.
He previously has been inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame (2004) and the IIHF Hall of Fame (2012).
The other members of the 2015 Hockey Hall of Fame class are: Players Sergei Fedorov, Nicklas Lidstrom, Chris Pronger and Angela Ruggiero and builders Bill Hay and Peter Karmanos Jr.
Induction ceremonies are scheduled for Nov. 9 at the Hall of Fame in Toronto.
The Nashville Predators are not ready to give up on Austin Watson yet.
They have not concluded that he is an NHL player either. Apparently, that’s what the 2015-16 is for.
The Predators on Monday announced a two-year contract with the 23-year-old center who has appeared in six NHL games since the team drafted him 18th overall in 2010. The first season is a two-way deal that will pay him an NHL salary of $575,000 or $100,000 if he is in the AHL, where he has played 229 of his 236 games as a professional. The second year is for an NHL salary only ($575,000).
The pact provides Watson a measure of security in that it guarantees him an NHL deal no later than the 2016-17 season. However, it also gives the team one more year to evaluate him. If he does not establish himself this season it is a virtual certainty that he will be traded to a team that can use him on its NHL roster.
Already, though, he has confounded the franchise’s personnel department in a way no other first-round pick has.
The 6-foot-3, 206-pound forward exhausted his junior eligibility before he finally turned pro and now has spent three full seasons in the AHL with only a brief NHL audition – and still the Predators are not sure what to do with him.
This is now his second professional contract, at point at which most of Nashville’s top picks already were a part of the NHL roster or had gone elsewhere.
A look at the team’s history with its other first-round selections:
• David Legwand, C (1998, second overall): He made his NHL debut in the final game of the 1998-99 season and was a full-time NHL player from that point forward.
• Brian Finley, G (1999, sixth overall): He spent seven years in the system (he missed one full season because of injury) but only made two NHL appearances. He only stuck around that long because the organization lacked depth at that point.
• Scott Hartnell, LW (2000, sixth overall): He was the rare player who made the jump directly from the draft to the NHL.
• Dan Hamhuis, D (2001, 12th overall): After being drafted he played one more year of junior hockey. He was a full-time NHL player at the start of his second pro season.
• Scottie Upshall, RW (2002, sixth overall): He made the Nashville roster out of training camp in his draft year but was returned to junior hockey before that season counted against his entry-level contract. By the end of that deal he was a full-time NHL player.
• Ryan Suter, D (2003, sixth overall): He played college hockey for one year, spent the lockout season of 2004-05 in the AHL and then became a fixture in the NHL the first chance he got.
• Alexander Radulov, RW (2004, 15th overall): After being drafted he played two years of junior hockey, started his pro career in the AHL but spent less than a season there before he proved he could produce points in the NHL.
• Ryan Parent, D (2005, 18th overall): He never played a game for Nashville but the Predators have traded him twice, the first time less than two years after he was drafted and the second time three months after he was reacquired.
• Jonathon Blum, D (2007, 23rd overall): He played two more seasons of junior hockey and then spent a season and a half in the AHL before he made it the NHL and became a reliable depth option.
• Colin Wilson, C (2008, seventh overall): He played one more year of college hockey and needed half a season in the AHL before he was deemed ready for the NHL.
• Chet Pickard, G (2008, 18th overall): He played one more year of junior hockey, spent all of his entry-level contract as a minor league player and then was not re-signed.
• Ryan Ellis, D (2009, 11th overall): He played two more years of junior hockey, split time between the AHL and NHL during his first two professional seasons and then established himself as a full-time NHL player.
• Seth Jones, D (2013, fourth overall): Like Hartnell, he made the jump directly from the draft to the NHL.
• Kevin Fiala, LW (2014, 11th overall): It’s clear that the Predators see him as an NHL player sooner rather than later. It’s why they brought him to Milwaukee from Sweden midway through last season and why they’re looking to create room on the NHL roster prior to this year’s training camp.
It is uncommon that the Nashville Predators put a lot of emphasis on one position in the NHL draft, which they did Saturday in the 2015 edition.
Having sat out Friday’s first round, chief amateur scout Jeff Kealty and his staff made seven picks in the final six rounds. Four of them, including the first three, were centers.
The only other time in franchise history Nashville used its first three picks on players at the same position was 2005. This draft bore remarkable similarity to that one in terms of approach. The hope is that yields better results.
“We definitely accomplished what we wanted today,” Kealty said in a release from the team. “Position-wise, there’s some areas that we felt like we could add to, but with that being said, these are all players we really wanted, it wasn’t just a positional thing.”
It was at least partially a positional thing and it was consistent with the franchise’s new-found emphasis on offense since coach Peter Laviolette was hired last offseason.
Second-round pick Iakov Trenin, third-round choice Thomas Novak and fourth-round selection Anthony Richard all were better than point-per-game players foe their respective teams in 2014-15. Trenin and Richard played in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and Novak was in the United States Hockey League.
The Predators added Tyler Moy from Harvard in the sixth round with the sixth of their seven choices. This year’s other three picks brought two goalies and one defenseman.
“We didn’t think [Trenin] would fall that low [55th overall], but he did, so it worked out great,” general manager David Poile said. “We got the guy we wanted, we didn’t have to give up a third or a fourth [round] pick or [future picks], so we’re exactly where we wanted to be.
“… We got the players that we wanted to get. I’m happy with all of the above.”
In 2005, Nashville also had seven total picks and used its first, second, third and sixth on defensemen. The only one of those four who actually spent any significant time on the NHL roster was Cody Franson, a third-round selection and the team’s third overall choice.
First-round pick Ryan Parent was traded twice, once in the deal that brought Peter Forsberg from Philadelphia in at the 2007 trade deadline, and again in a transaction that brought Shane O’Brien from Philadelphia just prior to the start of the 2010-11 season. Teemu Laakso, taken one pick ahead of Franson, appeared in 10 games with the Predators and has played in Europe the last three seasons.
Nashville’s 2015 draft choices:
Trebic (Czech Republic – 2)
Harvard University (ECAC)
Austin Bruins (NAHL)
The Nashville Predators are not interested in spending any more time paying the salaries of two of their NHL forwards.
So they’re willing to buy them out.
Tough guy Rich Clune (pictured) cleared waivers Thursday and General Manager David Poile said the team planned to buy out the remaining year of his contract. He was scheduled to make $850,000 next season in the second year of a two-year deal he signed prior to 2014-15.
The 28-year-old has played 106 of his 120 career NHL games for Nashville but appeared in just one contest last season before he was reassigned to Milwaukee. He had 17 points and 181 penalty minutes in 62 games for the Admirals after two full NHL seasons.
Viktor Stalberg’s status remained unresolved trough the weekend despite efforts to trade the 29-year-old left wing, who has been one of the franchise’s biggest free-agent disappointments in recent memory. He signed a four-year, $12 million contract in 2013 but halfway through that pact has delivered just 27 points (13 goals, 14 assists) in 45 games.
“We’re talking to a couple of teams about possibly making a trade [involving Stalberg],” Poile said, according to the team’s website. “I thought that if that was going to happen, it might’ve happened [Saturday], so we’re going to pursue that … and there’s also a possibility that we could buy him out.”
(Photo: Getty Images)
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)
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.
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).
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.
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).
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)
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.
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)
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.
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)
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.
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.
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)
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