Are You Ready For Some . . . NHL Hockey? Looking at Preds’ Past, Present and Future
By TOM WOOD / OCTOBER 7, 2022
It’s Opening Day for the Nashville Predators, who start their season with two games against the San Jose Sharks in Prague, Czech Republic on October 7-8 to kick off the National Hockey League’s Global Series.
I have written two new articles about the Preds, one in the Nashville Ledger that examines whether the team is a contender for its first Stanley Cup championship during the 2022-23 season. While some think they’ll have enough trouble just getting back to the playoffs, others suggest they can make a deep playoff run and with the right breaks make it back to the Stanley Cup Finals for only the second time in team history.
For me, the moves the team made over the summer are a definite upgrade that brings a certain amount of optimism. The Preds re-signed star forward Filip Forsberg to an 8-year, $68 million deal, then acquired defenseman Ryan McDonagh and left wing Nino Niederreiter as key pieces to solving the Stanley Cup riddle.
Asked about his team’s postseason chances, here’s what center Matt Duchene had to say: “We’ve got all the pieces here on paper but the game’s not played on paper. We love our team, we’re confident and I think we’re coming in a little bit under the radar, which is a great spot to be in. Our day to day is managing expectations, and you can’t win the Stanley Cup in November. You can’t win it in October. You can’t even win it in April. So, you’ve got to make sure that we’re just setting short-term goals and achieving that as we go.”
Duchene likes his team’s chances.
Today’s other story is for Main Street Nashville, a conversation about the past with retired goalkeeper Pekka Rinne, who has returned to the Predators as a special alumni advisor. Rinne retired after 2020-21 season, ending a stellar 15-year career. He had his No. 35 jersey retired last February and in August it was announced that a life-sized bronze statue will soon stand outside Bridgestone Arena.
Rinne talks about his new duties with Preds.
Rinne will be working with the team to help develop goalies in the team’s organization while also be involved in the team’s 365 Foundation and other charities. He says he loves being back in Nashville.
“It’s been such a big part of my life for so long — the city of Nashville and this organization — that I consider it my second home. So, it was easy,” Rinne said. “I couldn’t stay away from it for too long. I’ve been missing Nashville and I’ve been missing the team, and just everything about the organization.”
Here are some other things I have written in 2022:
Money Connects College Football Issues
Doug Mathews has spent most of his adult life either playing, coaching, or talking about college football. So when writing about the issues facing college football for the Sept. 23-29 issue of the Ledger, the former Vanderbilt athlete and Tennessee assistant coach, and current sports talk radio host was one of the first people I contacted.
Mathews has his finger on the pulse of those many issues – everything from name, image, likeness (NIL) to the transfer portal (scholarship athletes leaving schools to play elsewhere), from conference expansion to expanded college football playoffs, from conferences changing their TV packages and states changing their NIL laws.
It seems to me all those issues were connected by one thing: money. And Doug, with a few exceptions, agreed.
“(NIL) is certainly about money, but that’s also about the student-athlete,” said Mathews, the host of Football Saturday and Big Orange Sunday. “The university (and) conferences don’t benefit from that. That’s about student-athletes. Transfer portal is about the student-athlete. … Now the College Football Playoff, the expansion, all of that is certainly about the money. No question about that.”