Thursday, August 13, 2009

Skate of the Union

Nashville Predators State of the Franchise Meeting

By Marie M.

-Nashville Tennessee

I ducked out of work early on July 23rd to attend the state of the franchise meeting for my beloved Nashville Predators. I arrived just after 5 pm and got in the autograph line. JP Dumont and two of our prospects, Cody Franson and Mark Dekanich were signing. I had brought my jersey. I asked Cody if we were going to see him in our "laundry" this season and he said he sure hoped so! He’s been working out at local training facility getting ready to make his debut with the big boys. I met up with my friends Robin and Tony a little after that. We ran into different folks we knew, saw Steve Sullivan aka "Sully" with the Masterson Trophy posing for pictures. There was also an equipment sale but neither Robin nor I were interested in that.

There was a highlight reel playing on the Megatron. Some clips included Willie O’Ree’s visit and our rivalry with the Wings. The meeting started with some nice highlights from last year and features on Colin Wilson and Ryan Ellis. The meeting was moderated by Pete Weber our play by play guy. David Freeman from the ownership group spoke first. He talked about the Predator Way: 1. Scouting and developing talent; 2. consistency with our coaching staff; 3. David Poile’s steady and classy management; and most important of all, the passionate and knowledgeable fan base. He wouldn’t trade us for any other fan base in the league.

Second was Ed Lang for the business side of things: the 2/20 plan had done well.(The plan allows you to purchase season tickets for 2 years at the current rate and have 20 months to pay it off). He reviewed the schedule which includes 15 Sat games, a Friday and a Sunday game. We will also have our own version of March Madness with 17 games in the month with 10 of them at home. They are looking to repeat some promotions like the Military Mondays (discounted tickets for the military, Fort Campbell, home of the 101st is just up the road so the military is a big deal around here). The usual promises to upgrade concessions were made (yeah, right). Among other things he mentioned were that we sent 13 squirt/pee wee players to the Ace’s Got Skills national competition and 3 came back national champions. (Not bad, eh!)

David Poile was up next. He spoke about re-signing Sully and Joel Ward and how important it was for the team. Sully twitters so one of Poile’s staff knew the deal was made before Poile had a chance to tell him. We hired former player Martin Gelinas as director of player development. Martin was very popular here the one year he played and was an excellent mentor to Jordin Tootoo in particular. Our first goal is to get back to the playoffs. To do that, we will be relying on our core group of players, Sully, Arnott, Dumont, Erat, Legwand and our stud D corp. of Suter, Weber and Hammius. These guys will supplemented by our younger guys from Milwaukee who Poile feels are ready to get their chance at the Big Show. He, of course, was Mr. Positive that we can and will get back to the playoffs this coming season.

Lastly we heard from Sully and JP. Both were incredibly complimentary about the city and the fans. They love playing here and living here. JP said, “You made us feel welcome and part of your families.” They both spoke about the now tradition of a spontaneous standing ovation during a TV timeout. It started at the end of the ’08-‘09 season during our last home game with St. Louis when we knew we had made into the playoffs after a season of turmoil, fears, tears and joy. We don’t do every game, but when the crowd senses the boys need a lift, we get it going. Opposing players are amazed and perplexed by it, of course. Our guys love it and totally feed off it.

The guys were positive about the upcoming season and look forward to getting back on the ice. There was a Q & A session afterwards. Mr. Poile confirmed that Alexander Radulov is not coming back this season. Mr. Freeman acknowledged the need to get more butts in seats to increase our revenue. JP likes watching Alexander Ovechkin on the highlights.
And on a more personal level: Mr. Poile became a grandfather this summer.

The turnout was not great but it was a weeknight. I think we had around 1000 fans there, which is still pretty good for the middle of summertime in Nashville.

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