Eat Some Humble Pie, Preds Fans…
When the Nashville Predators played the Phoenix Coyotes for the first time this year Tuesday night, some Preds fans on twitter seemed to have one thing on their mind.
It had nothing to do with the fact that the Predators have won only a single game this season. It wasn’t the significant lack of offense that’s put a dagger in Nashville’s heart that sparked conversation. The fact that Patric Hornqvist was gone for 3-4 weeks with a sprained knee was disregarded. Was it going to be a rematch of the Conference Quarterfinals? Meh. Who cares?
So what exactly was the conversation at hand? Many were far too busy talking about the attendance at the Jobing.com Arena in Glendale. The attendance, which was announced at 8,581, was below half of the capacity that the arena can hold, again turning Gary Bettman a little purple.
It took over the conversation more than any other highlight or lowlight of the game. Just a few minutes into the game, Josh Cooper, the beat writer of the Nashville Predators, even had to tweet to the world “Again, I will not tolerate any tweets about the crowd size here… don’t even bother.” It has been a source of discussion around the NHL for the past few seasons, and yet people still dwell on it, especially Preds fans?
Just stop it, Preds fans. Nashville has absolutely no right to talk about attendance to a smaller market team. Just barely five years ago, the Predators were the redheaded stepchild of the NHL being ridiculed for attendance. The new local ownership has saved this team from being in the same position as the Phoenix Coyotes. The Coyotes have been up and down on the ownership situation, including a faltering situation with the San Jose Sharks owner. Atlanta just lost their team a little over a season ago, stinging the hearts of diehard fans in Atlanta.
For those new fans who don’t know, Nashville almost lost the Predators in 2007. Say “summer of ‘07” to any Predators fan who lived it, and they will instantly cringe their fists and start cursing under their breath about how Blackberry phones suck. Former owner Craig Leipold had an “intent of sale” ready for Jim Balsillie. Balsillie had intended to relocate the Nashville Predators (pending the approval of the Board of Governors) to a new arena in Hamilton, Ontario, just a few miles from Toronto. He even placed $500 deposits on “Hamilton Predators” season tickets before the team had been sold to him.
Northern fans supported it heavily, saying that Nashville didn’t deserve a hockey team. Nashville was a “hillbilly” market that couldn’t sell out an arena if it wasn’t for Detroit or St. Louis fans. Nashville rallied and saved the team with a group of local investors. The success of the Predators grew on and off the ice, and now Nashville is reveling in a “golden” era, so to speak.
But yet, new Preds fans are saying that hockey doesn’t need to be in Phoenix, or that the city does not deserve a team. Why? Because it’s a small market that can’t sell out a game. Well guess what, Preds fans? NASHVILLE IS STILL A SMALL HOCKEY MARKET. It’s time to stop acting like the hockey snobs who a few years ago were saying that Nashville didn’t deserve a hockey team. Phoenix only has a few more years on Nashville as a market, and Nashville at least had transplants from Detroit and other hockey markets that moved here for work. Phoenix was almost bought and relocated by Balsillie as well. So they had attendance issues in the Conference Finals? The first inaugural Predators playoff series in 2004 was looked over by an article about Eddie George’s golf swing!
The Predators have had a lot of luck. The team has been successful ever since the ownership has changed, and for many reasons. But what about when the team falters for several years, similar to how Phoenix was until the past two seasons? Are you still going to be around when this team has 15 game losing streaks? What happens when this team is not as successful? Will the casual fan keep returning, or will northern hockey fans have evidence again that the south doesn’t need hockey? Remember, Preds fans. You are still the south. You’re still a small hockey market. Stay humble.
Talk about how less than 20 shots on goal won’t win games. Talk about two struggling teams that were extremely successful last season, but can’t seem to get their footing. Talk about how Antione Vermette’s flow puts Mike Fisher and Assistant Coach Lane Lambert’s to shame. Heck, talk about why Phoenix goaltender Chad Johnson wasn’t wearing “85” and calling himself the Ochocinco of the NHL! But for goodness sake, stop talking about the attendance. Have a little heart, Nashville. This was you in 2007.
The Predators still lost in front of 8,581. That’s the important statistic. Eat your humble pie.