A Year to Remember: 2011-2012 Predators Milestones
By: Miranda Martin
With the Nashville Predators celebrating their 500th win as a franchise Friday night, it has been a year of milestones both on and off the ice for the organization.
The 500th win couldn’t have been more poetic for the franchise, either. The win came on the road, posting the 4-1 victory against division rival Detroit Red Wings. It was only the sixth loss on home ice for the Red Wings this season.
It wasn’t just the 500th win for the franchise, though. The win meant 500 wins for Barry Trotz, the only coach the Nashville Predators have ever known. He is only the fifth coach in NHL history to have 500 wins with a single franchise. It also meant 500 wins for David Poile, the Predator’s only General Manager. David Poile is the first General Manager in the NHL ever to post 500 wins with two franchises (Washington Capitals being the other).
The team just celebrated their 1000th regular season game November 12 against Montreal. Only 62 games later, they would celebrate their 500th win. It was the quickest any franchise team after 1990 hit 500 wins. The Ottawa Senators hold second place with reaching 500 wins after 1,145 games.
Also, records are being set by players, whether franchise or personal. For David Legwand, it meant both. David Legwand’s assist on Shea Weber’s goal against Chicago Saturday night was his 500th career point—the first to do so entirely in a Predators uniform. Pekka Rinne set the franchise record for wins by a goaltender in the regular season with 42. With three games remaining, Shea Weber is six points shy of tying the record for most points in a season by a defenseman, set by Kimmo Timonen in 2006-2007 with 55. Currently, several players are having their career-best seasons. One of them is Martin Erat, who currently leads the team in points. Erat has 58 points, a career best that beats his 57-point seasons in 2006-2007 and 2007-2008. Ryan Suter also posted a career-best 46 points, breaking his previous record of 45 in 2008-2009. Nick Spaling, Jordin Tootoo, Kevin Klein, Matt Halischuk are all posting career-best seasons in points, as well.
Off-ice, the front office has seen skyrocketing ticket sales, as game attendance is hitting record-breaking status. Saturday night, the team added their 23rd regular season sellout, completely shattering the 20-game franchise record from the inaugural season in 1998-1999. These sellouts included 8 consecutive, breaking the previous franchise record of six consecutive, from December 15th through January 7th.
The team is also set to break another franchise record for average attendance. The franchise record stands at 16,600, or 97% capacity, set in 1999-2000. Currently, the average is at 16,667 with 97.4% capacity. Just five years ago in 2006-2007, the team was averaging 15,259 (89.2% capacity). More so, the team is averaging around 16,000 in paid attendance, with very few giveaway tickets. Of course, this happens when there is a hot ticket to have in town. With the incorporation of the new standing room only section located above 316-318, the team could, over the next few years, see attendance with over 100% capacity, like several NHL teams do every season (currently the Philadelphia Flyers have 107.6% capacity average attendance). The Predators already have gone above capacity in attendance, registering 17,318 (101% capacity) attendees against the Chicago Blackhawks Saturday. This is just nine shy of the record attendance 17,329 set April 17, 2004 against the Detroit Red Wings in the Conference Quarterfinals.
Nashville will look for its 501st win Tuesday night at 501 Broadway. The puck drops at 7 PM as the Preds face off against the Minnesota Wild in the second to last home game of the season. Tickets are still available as the team looks to add a 24th sellout to the already record-breaking season.