Just 2 Points in the Standings…
By Jonathan Shaffer
The Nashville Predators defeated the Minnesota Wild 3-1 last night.
To many Predators fans, it was a resounding triumph over dishonesty, evil, and greed. Actually it was just one win, just another game in this truncated season.
Don’t tell that to the anti-Suterites.
There had been endless teeth gnashing amongst Preds faithful regarding Ryan Suter’s departure last July to the Minnesota Wild. Suter signed a blockbuster 13-year, $98 million deal – identical to that of current teammate Zach Parise – that topped any offer the Predators had made.
But the whispers surrounding the deal are what created the acrimony towards Suter that crescendo last night throughout social media. Reports circulated that Suter did not allow the Preds the opportunity to make a counteroffer. There were rumors that Suter had made private declarations that he had every intention of staying in Nashville.
In fact, the process became so emotional that Preds general manager David Poile uncharacteristically lashed out through the media. (While not apologizing for the emotions he expressed, Poile has since backed away from his previous comments.)
The overriding narrative for the Predators had been keeping the Big 3: goaltender Pekka Rinne, Suter, and perennial Norris Trophy candidate Shea Weber. There was never a day on this Earth when the Preds were going to keep all three players. Somebody was going to be gone, maybe even two would leave – and nearly did.
What’s been confusing has been the scorn from Predators fans directed toward Suter. Sure, much of it has been good, clean, North American fun.
Things didn’t really get strange until recently. Fans and the media were seemingly in lockstep diminishing the impact Suter’s absence would leave on the Predators.
Here’s a news flash: Ryan Suter was an All-Star and is a damn good hockey player. He would be on the top defensive pairing on any team in the league. And someone doesn’t get paid that kind of cash for merely being “good”.
Did Suter take advantage of being paired up with Weber? Absolutely, and Weber also benefitted. We won’t know the impact of Suter’s departure anytime soon, but the Predators certainly aren’t a better team without him.
One of the greatest aspects of being a fan is being irrationally emotional and blindly loyal to your team. That’s what makes it fun. But even though it is completely acceptable to act that way doesn’t mean we always should.
Ryan Suter is not a traitor. He’s not a jerk. None of this has been or ever will be personal. His signing with another team is not a subversive commentary about the Predators. He got an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get paid, to make generational money that will forever affect his family and its future, and he gets to do that while also working closer to home and to his family. (Suter is a Wisconsin native.) Who would turn that down?
There is a prevailing thought that Suter used the Preds to score a sweeter deal with Minnesota. So what? That happens every single day in business. It’s called leverage.
Didn’t the offer sheet made by the Philadelphia Flyers toward Weber hold the Predators at a fiscal gunpoint? Would the same amount of angst been targeted toward Shea Weber if Nashville would not have re-signed him?
The Preds got a big, early-season victory against the Wild. Ryan Suter was a minus-2. Fans can take solace in the Preds victory over the treacherous Ryan Suter; representing the Death Star being destroyed and the Empire crumbling, but none of that really happened. If it was a victory of revenge, then its satisfaction was brief and shallow.
It was just two points in the standings.