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
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.
• 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).