Boclair: Fabric of the Predators' success completely ignored by franchise

Sunday, October 3, 2010 at 10:45pm

So maybe the Nashville Predators’ playoff history is not one to be celebrated.

Five first-round exits in as many all-time appearances. No wins when faced with elimination. One victory on the road in 13 tries. Four shutouts against, one shutout for.

Does that mean that history should be all but ignored?

Perhaps it has to do with the fact that so much attention annually is paid to the franchise’s future and whether it will be in Nashville for the long-term. Ownership has changed hands multiple times in recent years. Attempts were made by others to acquire the club and relocate it. In some ways, ticket sales have become as important as wins and losses.

Yet none of that excuses the fact that the past has been decidedly shortchanged. Think about it. Where are the banners to commemorate exactly what this team has accomplished?

There’s plenty of room in the rafters at Bridgestone Arena to hang one for each playoff year. Each ought to include the season, the record, the finish in the conference standings and the tag “Western Conference Quarterfinals.”

As it stands, there are only three markers fans see when they turn their gaze upward. There is one that celebrates the first game in franchise history: Oct. 10, 1998. There’s one that salutes the fans and is tagged “7th Man.” Then there is one for the inaugural playoff series, which was hung six years ago.

Anyone who has seen it knows the kind of charge that goes through an arena or a stadium on opening night when a banner is unveiled in recognition of the previous season’s success. The optimism and enthusiasm that already exist at the start of a season get that much more of a bump.

Predators’ fans have been denied that thrill for years now.

Sure, that’s a one-time boost, but the benefits linger beyond that, particularly for a franchise that is on a well-publicized quest to attract new fans. Just imagine someone who walks into the arena for the first time, looks up and sees a series of banners for playoff appearances: 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2010. Even more than whether the team wins or loses that night, the banners and their story of sustained success would make clear that this is a franchise worth the person’s investment of time, money and emotion.

Similarly, each time a player looks upward, he would be reminded that there is not only an expectation but an obvious goal to do better and to add to the tapestry collection. Think players of the Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers, New York Yankees or Montreal Canadiens aren’t motivated/inspired by all the historical markers in their respective homes?

And humble as it is, the Predators’ playoff history is the standard for the NHL’s most recent round of expansion. Nashville’s five postseason appearances equal the combined total of the other three newest franchises: Minnesota (three), Columbus (one) and
Atlanta (one).

If the Predators aren’t willing to recognize their own achievements, no one else is going to do it for them.

They will begin the 2010-11 season Saturday at home against Anaheim, and the hope among all connected with the franchise is that this will be a “banner campaign.” Then again, the way this franchise operates, apparently even its best performances don’t warrant a banner. That’s a shame.

Briefly

• Joel Ward scored two third-period goals -- one of them shorthanded -- and Pekka Rinne stopped all 22 shots he faced as the Nashville Predators concluded the preseason with a 3-0 victory over the Capitals on Sunday in Washington, D.C.

Ward's shorthanded goal was unassisted and made it 2-0 at 7:42 of the third. He added another 4:51 later with assists by Cal O'Reilly and Steve Sullivan, each of whom finished with two points.

O'Reilly scored the game's first goal at 11:58 of the second period. Sullivan and Patric Hornqvist had the assists.

Rinne did not face more than eight shots in any period as Nashville recorded its first preseason shutout since its 2009 opener (5-0 versus Atlanta).

 

5 Comments on this post:

By: LFCRed on 10/4/10 at 8:00

This isn't mites or peewee where everybody gets a trophy for playing! Get out of the first round of the playoffs & through to a Conf. Championship and THEN you can talk about hanging banners...

"Beer is proof God loves us and wants us to be happy." Benjamin Franklin

By: TheHunter on 10/4/10 at 10:04

I agree with LFCRed ... the Predators need to win something first ... winning a division title would be a nice thing to start with

By: donmcgonagil on 10/4/10 at 11:22

Boclair has it right! The Predators are one of only a handful of NHL teams that have successfully made the playoffs 5 out of the past 7 years. This accomplishment has gone largely unrecognized. The Titans certainly can't boast this accomplishment. Perhaps it's indeed time to "banner up" the arena and set the expectation before the players and our fans that we are 1. Proud of the team's accomplishments, and 2. that the next banner is to advance beyond round one of the playoffs. Go Preds!

By: codeyh on 10/4/10 at 1:48

The faster I can forget Game 5 from last year, the better. The last thing you want to do is deflate the crowd.. you mention 2010 playoffs.. the images of Kane and Hossa still stab sharply. I think the empty arena serves as motivation if the players even think about it.

By: cookeville on 10/5/10 at 11:56

The Preds lost to the Stanley Cup champs last year and the Hawkes' fans and coaches all said that the Preds were the toughest team they faced on their way to that championship. What the team has to do is WIN our division so that we are not seeded against one of the top two teams in the league. This has happened on more than one occasion. And I do think their banners should be hung in that arena. It's important for the team to see it so they understand what they have to accomplish season after season. So come on, owners, do something to get those banners hung!!
GO PREDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!