Puck Daddy's Most Disappointing Summer Series: Nashville Predators Edition
(Ed. Note: There’s entirely too much sunshine in the summer. So your friends at Puck Daddy are offering a month of thrown shade and perpetual gloom. Behold, our Summer of Disappointment series, in which we ask fans of all 30 teams to recall the biggest bummer moments, teams and players in franchise history! Please wade into their misery like a freezing resort pool, and add your own choices in the comments!)
Written by Link of The Predcast
Most Disappointing Team: 2006-2007 Nashville Predators
The 2006-2007 Nashville Predators were the best team that the organization have ever iced. The team finished the season with the second most wins in the league 51-23-8 and only three points back from the Western Conference champion Detroit Red Wings. A Red Wings team that only managed that feat thanks to 13 overtime losses, a strategy that other teams such as the Florida Panthers have employed as a means of embarrassing their way into the playoffs.
The Predators ended the season being lead by a rejuvenated Paul Kariya (24g, 76pts) supported by J.P. Dumont, David Legwand, and Steve Sullivan all breaking 20 goals and 60 points in additional to fifty point scoring Martin Erat, Kimmo Timonen, and Jason Arnott. On top of all of those players were Scott Hartnell, Shea Weber, and Alexander Radulov all reaching or brushing 40 points.
Oh, David Poile also traded Scottie Upshall and human ping-pong ball Ryan Parent for an only slightly damaged Peter Forsberg, who still managed to put up 15 points in 17 games
The only truly elite team in Nashville Predators history was subsequently eliminated by the San Jose Sharks 4 games to 1 to make the season feel like a pointless waste of everyone’s time.
Most Disappointing Predator: David Legwand
There are so many choices if for no other reason than Nashville teams were frequently put together in the same way that you try and build an awesome LEGO robot after your brothers have already taken most of the useful bricks in order to make whatever stupid things they wanted to make and that you’re just going to smash later.
It has to be first ever Nashville Predators draft pick David Legwand.
He joined the NHL directly from juniors and looked poised to continue his junior success in the world’s finest league. And then he turned into a dull two-way forward worth about 40 points a year.
For 15 years fans would get chills as he demonstrate the same flashes of hockey prowess that had lead to him getting drafted book-ended by long spells of dutifully back-checking and shorthanded play.
First round draft picks turn into quality two-way players all the time, so what makes David Legwand so disappointing?
Legwand leads the organization in games played, goals, goals at even strength, assists, game winning goals, shots, goals on-ice for, is third in penalty minutes, second in hat tricks, and is second in short-handed goals. He holds most of these records for the simple fact that he stuck around for so long. No current or past Predator is even close to threatening those numbers. When you balance it all out by seeing that Legwand is 10th in goals and points per game and 9th in assists you just feel empty inside.
Most Disappointing Moment in Predators History: Martin Erat in Game 5 against the Blackhawks in 2010
There was something magical about the 2009-2010 Nashville Predators. The team was decent but far from spectacular and embodied the Predator Way that became the defining aspects of post-fire sale Nashville teams. It felt like another one and done of the Predators as they drew the eventual Stanley Cup winners in the Chicago Blackhawks, but there was something different. There was a spark in the Predators during that first round matchup. The team and the fans alike knew that the Blackhawks were vulnerable, and the Preds sure as hell played like it.
The defining moment came in Game 5. Simply uttering the words “Game 5” near Preds fans will cause a spontaneous aneurysm and symptoms that would suggest rabies.
On that night in April the Predators had a chance to take a 3-2 lead in the series before heading back to Nashville. Like their namesake the team was at the Blackhawks’ collective throat, it was all but over. But then it happened.
The Predators were on a goal up with 4 and a half minutes left on a major penalty and just over 30 seconds left in the game. Martin Erat picked up the puck on the boards just to the left of Antti Niemi and promptly dumped it into open ice in front of the Blackhawk’s net and almost directly on the stick of Jonathan Toews. The Hawks immediately pinned the Preds into their zone and Patrick Kane scored the game tying goal with 13 seconds left in the 3rd period. The Hawks went on to win game 5 in OT and the series two nights later.
Most Disappointing Predators Transaction: Signing Matthew Lombardi
The most disappointing signing for the Predators is Matthew Lombardi because no one wants to come play for the Predators who isn’t a long-standing member of the team, a recovering addict, or under 30 years of age.
Lombardi was different. Other teams wanted him, but the Predators got him. He ended up playing 30 minutes over two games before suffering a severe concussion. With no prospects to return, David Poile constructed a trade to move Matthew Lombardi’s salary. Lombardi was paired with Cody Franson in exchange for Robert Slaney and soon to be UFA Brett Lebda, a player so bad that even the Maple Leafs knew they had to get him off the roster.
While Lombardi eventually recovered his health, he never recovered his form in the NHL and most recently lit up the Swiss league scoring 20G and 50pts. Meanwhile Cody Franson has become a pretty good player, Brett Lebda’s contract was left to expire, and Slaney was later shipped off to Montreal in a package that brought Hal Gill to Nashville.
Really just a sad story.
Most Disappointing Predators Coach/Executive: David Poile and Barry Trotz
Can I say Barry Trotz or David Poile?
Poile balances his consistency with inexplicable bouts of brilliance and buffoonery, while Trotz frequently took a band of misfit toys and managed to convince a whole lot of people they were GI Joes.
The sameness of the Predators’ history makes this a difficult question to answer. Frankly, I can’t even fault Leipold of ditching the Predators and going putting money down on the safe bet Minnesota Wild. I’m don’t want to touch on the embarrassment caused by Boots Del Biaggio because the organizations handled that fiasco with laudable aplomb.
Maybe we can all be disappointed at the soul crushing sameness that comfortably settled around the organization for long stretches of its brief existence. The team spent years being “good enough” but never anything more. Trotz and Poile were mostly disappointing in the way you find yourself craving pizza, but all you can get your hands on is a Little Caesar's hot-and-ready plain pie.
Most Disappointing Predators Fashion Choice: Their primary uniforms until 2011
Guess what? I liked the mustard jerseys. Sure, the 3D sabretooth tiger was a bit kitschy, but the jerseys were unique and an interesting precursor to the gold-washing that took place a few seasons ago.
No, what was disappointing about the Predators is how the team entered the league and lived in it for twelve years. In 1998 the team took to the ice in jerseys so bland and lacking in personality that they actually became noteworthy for that fact alone.
The design had neither the wackiness of late-90s NHL uniforms of the enduring class of uniforms worn by long established teams such as the Red Wings or Rangers. The jersey colors of navy, gold, and silver are about as nondescript and generic as one can find in professional sports and didn’t nothing to improve a complex logos that added steel, orange, light red, dark red, light blue, bright blue, dark gray, and gray to the color palette.
The organization fixed the problem in 2011 by reducing the palette to gold, dark blue, and white. No matter how you feel about the gold-washing, at least they took a traffic accident and replaced it with something iconic.
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Other disappointments (in order of appearance): New York Rangers • Calgary Flames • St. Louis Blues • New York Islanders • Dallas Stars • Boston Bruins • Colorado Avalanche • Washington Capitals • Ottawa Senators • Arizona Coyotes • Minnesota Wild • Edmonton Oilers • San Jose Sharks • Winnipeg Jets • New Jersey Devils • Los Angeles Kings • Florida Panthers • Carolina Hurricanes • Buffalo Sabres • Montreal Canadiens • Tampa Bay Lightning • Chicago Blackhawks • Columbus Blue Jackets • Detroit Red Wings • Anaheim Ducks • Philadelphia Flyers • Pittsburgh Penguins • Vancouver Canucks • Toronto Maple Leafs