David Poile started with an apology.
“On behalf of myself and our organization, I’d like to apologize to our fans, anybody that cares about hockey and especially the Nashville Predators,” the Predators general manager said as part of his opening remarks at a Monday press conference. “This was a situation that none of us really thought would ever happen. I think we’re all disappointed that it turned out the way it did.
“It’s really unfortunate, but like anything in life whether it’s your relationship with the Predators or hockey or your personal relationships, sometimes things go wrong and you need to apologize. I’m apologizing. Sometimes you need forgiveness and then you need to move on. And that’s what we’re doing today.”
Also Monday, the franchise’s two highest ranking executives, chief executive officer Jeff Cogen and chief operating officer Sean Henry, sent an email to season ticket holders that read, in part, “We apologize for the delay in the start of the season and can’t thank you enough for your support. We look forward to filling Bridgestone Arena with fervent fans like you that provide the Predators with a true home-ice advantage.”
It was not business as usual — yet — but things were moving in that direction after the NHL and NHL Players Association agreed early Sunday on the framework of a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA), which would end the lockout imposed by owners on Sept. 15, 2012, and allow for a shortened 2012-13 season.
Franchise officials were prohibited from commenting on the particulars of the deal, which include limits on the length of player contracts and the amount players’ salaries can vary from season to season as well as expanded revenue sharing because neither side had ratified it.
Regardless, no one sought to claim victory. Instead, most on both sides struck a conciliatory tone as they awaited the release of the schedule, the official start date for training camp and other critical elements that have yet to be resolved.
“Obviously it’s been tough,” Predators defenseman and captain Shea Weber said. “This is the worst part for the fans. They’ve had no hockey. I’ve seen people out on the town and how excited they are for the game and how excited they were for it when it wasn’t even playing.
“I think this city is a huge hockey town and they’re ready to go.”
The start of the season, according to Poile, is set for Jan. 19. Until then, the longest tenured member of the organization is prepared to make amends.
“I’ve been very proud to be here for all these years and to help be part of building this franchise,” Poile said. “I really want to get back on track. I know I’m speaking for our ownership and I believe I’m speaking for our players.
“… Everybody says, after the fact, ‘It’s business.’ And I think you get by it — actually — pretty fast. I don’t want to just shrug it off because it’s a day later. … I think an apology is owed to everybody from us, meaning management and ownership, and probably from the players.”