(Ed. Note: As the Stanley Cup Playoffs continue, we're bound to lose some friends along the journey. We've asked for these losers, gone but not forgotten, to be eulogized by the people who knew the teams best: The fans who hated them the most. Here is our own Ryan Lambert, fondly recalling the Nashville Predators.)
Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to mourn the loss of the Nashville Predators.
Yes, they are a real NHL team. I promise.
Now, I see the puzzled looks on your faces, so allow me to explain. I am (in theory at least) a Calgary Flames fan, and so I probably don't strike you as the most likely candidate to eulogize these dearly departed Preds, but I need you ask yourself one question: Who else was going to do it?
If the franchise ceased to exist tomorrow, is there anyone out there, besides all 12 Predators fans, would care? Go ahead, try to think of the Predators' main rival. Fans in Music City would likely tell you it's the Red Wings, but that's wishful thinking. Close to 90 percent of the
empty seats fans at Joe Louis Arena couldn't pick Shea Weber(notes) out of a lineup. And besides, the Wings have bigger rivals in the Chicagos and Pittsburghs of the world. The Predators, therefore, are maybe third on the Wings' radar, and that's being generous.
So it falls to me, generally regarded as a big mean jerk who hates everyone (that's correct, by the way) to say some big mean things about the Predators. And really, coming up with material was not easy. They do a pretty good job of making themselves look stupid without my help, and they've probably been through enough.
For instance, I literally had to Google a few Predators blogs (there's more than one!) to study these people, and I was appalled by what I found.
One Web site actually had a list of chants (warning: link opens an embarrassing PDF) their hardcore supporters -- all eight of them -- use in games. Did you know that, when an opposing player falls down on his own, these people actually chant, "1-2-3-4 YOU JUST HIT THE ICY FLOOR! 5-6- 7-8, WHERE THE HELL'D YOU LEARN TO SKATE?"
"Icy floor?" Seriously?
Look, guys, I know this whole "watching Canadian guys skate around for a couple hours" doesn't come naturally to you, and that most members of the Tennessee women's basketball team are roughly a trillion times more recognizable around the state than Patric Hornqvist(notes), the Preds' leading scorer this season.
But please, for your own sake, at least make it look like you're putting some sort of effort into looking like you've seen snow in more places than just the TV when "the possums start nesting on the aerial." Whatever that means.
I'm guessing that unlike most hockey fans, I can name more than three members of the Nashville Predators, though I must admit my knowledge gets a little fuzzy once I get past the three I follow on Twitter. (They still have Denis Arkhipov(notes), right?)
It's especially hard to keep track of the team's members because they go through starting goalies like Rangers fans go through excuses. But I guess I understand that, especially if Pekka Rinne(notes) is going to insist upon giving up goals like this:
Admittedly, almost all the knowledge I have of this team and the city in which it resides comes exclusively from the Twitter account of on-again/off-again backup goalie Dan Ellis, who seems like a pretty cool guy. He's always going to Starbucks and harassing people in the street and throwing rocks at alligators (which I'm pretty sure could get him deported). What's not to like?
Because of Ellis' tweets, for example, I learned that last night's unintentional series finale was a sellout. I know what you're thinking: a playoff game selling out isn't a big deal anywhere but Detroit. Sure. But it must be a big deal if Ellis used a full 13 exclamation points to show how pumped he was that they banged out the Gaylord Entertainment Center.
Oh, it's not called that any more? That's too bad.
To really cement the level of apathy this town has for their NHL team, let's head back to the site that lets you know exactly how to pronounce a perfectly straight-forward name like "Niemi." The station airing the games in Nashville would frequently cut away from live action for weather updates. I'm not kidding.
Just imagine the riots in Vancouver or Boston if they cut to guy going "Sure is windy out" in the middle of a power play (not that any of the three Preds fans would have missed anything; they went 1-for-28, 3.6 percent, this postseason). If the Predators played in Montreal, people in that town, given the choice between risking their lives in a natural disaster or missing a second of the game, would much rather die. Not so much in Nashville.
They really need to get their priorities in order.
Ellis' Twitter also taught me that facing elimination is allegedly Nashville's comfort zone. I knew about that whole "we might get moved to Hamilton" thing, and that whole "we might get moved to Kansas City" thing, and that whole "we might get moved literally anywhere we can sell out more than one playoff game a season" thing. But apparently he meant elimination from the playoffs, so I looked into that too.
Turns out they've made the playoffs five times in their 11-year existence and have picked up a total of eight wins. Yup, a postseason record of 8-20. But, given that it's their comfort zone and all, I bet you can't guess how many of those wins have come with the team facing elimination.
Did you guess "zero?" Congratulations, you are not only correct, but you've also successfully counted the number of Nashville natives who will notice that the Predators' season is now over.
But just as death is a part of life and good can indeed spring from tragedy, there is some happy news amid the dozens of milliliters of tears spilled all over Nashville last night.
With this, the franchise's fifth first-round loss in as many postseason trips, Barry Trotz finally collected enough points on his Frequent Loser card to get that neck he's had his eye on for some time ...