How are we feeling, Nashville fans?
Hi there. Typically, I’ll start these articles with a college story or a dumb Star Wars take, but allow me to begin with an unorthodox prelude.
I know how you feel. I get it. They should be better. And I’d feel much better about this year if we all stopped pretending that winning is the main priority. Because if it is, then they’re doing an absolutely horrible job, as can be seen on the ice. And if I were running Bridgestone Arena, I’d sign Excedrin on for sponsorships, because there’s no way fans at home watching these games aren’t downing migraine medication by the bottle.
How, in the name of Terry Crisp, does John Hynes think scratching Eeli Tolvanen for Sean Malone is a good idea? Why is Rocco Grimaldi playing over Nick Cousins? Why did Twitter take Housecats away? WHY WON’T THEY GIVE US HOUSECATS BACK?
These are dark days.
But, I digress.
This is not an article for frustrated Predators fans. This is not an article where I’ll vamp about the good ole days of May 2017. This is a collection of mental health tips for Nashville hockey fans suffering from this disease called “Expecting-too-much-itis.” Think of me as your guide, and if you follow these tips, I guarantee you’ll feel much better about the Bad News Bears losing to the Detroit Red Wings 4-2.
Tip #1: Face the Truth
Let’s blow the door off this right now: the Nashville Predators just aren’t good right now. From top to bottom, it’s just not good.
Could they be better? Yeah.
Should you expect them to be? No, you shouldn’t.
No, adding Luke Kunin, Nick Cousins, Mikael Granlund, or Brad Richardson didn’t solidify anything. They didn’t make the team better, and they have not contributed nearly enough to justify misplacing hungry prospects. The youth movement was all but abandoned once training camp commenced, which was a serious headscratcher. Given their record and the way they’re playing, the Predators may not have a choice but to revisit the youth movement.
I’m not in the mood to give anyone the benefit of the doubt. If it was Tolvanen, Richard, Olivier, or other Milwaukee Admirals making these mistakes, I’d be more forgiving. But David Polie spent money on a 36 year old forward veteran with a Stanley Cup dating back eight years ago for what? What about Luke Kunin’s game superseded a potential full-time top six role for Eeli Tolvanen? I’m especially infuriated with how Tolvanen and Olivier play on a particular night, and they’re back to the press box the following game.
This is not a Stanley Cup caliber team. This isn’t a playoff team. This team flew too close to the sun when they went to the SCF, and we’ve been witness as they’ve routinely failed in their attempts to fly again. This team doesn’t need the leadership, grit, or whatever the hell you want to call “the intangibles” that supposedly come with James Neal. That’s what nailed Nashville’s coffin shut the last few years: nostalgia. No one player will make a difference, no specific power play strategy or penalty kill will turn this season around, there should be little hope to compete for the second Wild Card spot.
So, now that you all have completely agreed to accept these definite, never-changing truths, here are some other tips that have definitely helped me get through this season thus far!
Tip #2: Change the channel
You know, I love watching hockey. But I don’t like watching bad hockey. So when the Predators start playing bad hockey, I change the channel.
In terms of instant relief, changing the channel is like looking at Roman Josi’s baby pictures. Even when the Predators don’t reach double digits in the shot category before the third period begins AGAINST THE DETROIT RED WINGS, that baby is stull as cute as ever. Watching a slideshow dedicated to Nashville Predators baby pictures would be a billion times more entertaining than watching the current on-ice product, at least in my opinion.
Think about it. You get to watch literally anything else when you turn the Predators off. Did you know there was a movie featuring Johnny Depp and Christian Bale and they played old bank robbers or something? There was also this movie that had Pete Davidson and Bill Burr with a handlebar mustache. Trust me, Amazon Prime’s “Free To Me” has all of the movies that you can enjoy but don’t really feel obligated to actually remember the title. Also, The Boys is on Amazon Prime. It’s obviously not for everyone, but if you’re tired of the typical superhero stigma, it’s a pretty damn good show.
If you just can’t have enough of the typical superhero stigma (or if you believe Elizabeth Olson was the best thing to ever come to the MCU), Wandavision on Disney+ adds an incredible amount of depth to the incoming Phase Four (And Disney+ also has Miracle, which easily satisfies your need for hockey!) I won’t spoil it, but I will say this: give me more of this new Wanda. And, The Falcon and the Winter Solider is coming out soon– OH! I wanted to address the ridiculous fangirl love for Bucky Barnes. Through three Captain America movies and two Avenger movies, Sebastian Stan hasn’t seen an hour of screen time. Why do I see so many fancams on Twitter about this guy?
Anyways, Netflix also has some good stuff. The sequel to Goon is on there. Although I liked the first one better. What ever happened to Sean William Scott?
Tip #3: The Washington Generals Mentality
Understandably, most of you, even myself, won’t follow Tip #2.
It was legitimately impressive to play so badly against a team like Detroit. Almost like they scripted to lose in the most boring, unexciting way possible. But instead of groaning, whining, analyzing what went wrong every time the Predators lose, why not look at this team a little differently?
The Washington Generals lost over 16,000 times to the Harlem Globetrotters. I can’t be the only one who was a fan of the losing team. Wasn’t it fun to watch them lose? Wasn’t it about the experience?
I’m not saying the Nashville Predator fan base should expect to lose 16,000 times with this group, I’m just saying it could be worse, right?
One quick little idea: why not just play the goal song after every score, even their opponents’ scores? I love the way the Predators goal call sounds, especially the Black Keys and Tim McGraw– I need some more of them, but the Predators don’t seem to satisfying that need lately. But other teams are, and I think it’s unfair of them to deny me that experience.
How about this: if the fanbase will accept a full rebuild is necessary, losing becomes the norm. And if losing is the norm, winning feels that much better. I mean, that’s how I feel about the Vols, the Mets, and the Grizzlies. All I need is someone to make a highlight video on YouTube of the best moments of the year, and I don’t have to experience misery in real time! And I’m one more free agent acquisition or “locker-room guy” pick-up or abysmal performance against a bad team away from adding the Predators to that list.
I digress– at least they’re not losing as badly as the Washington Generals. Enjoy Filip Forsberg and Roman Josi in their prime.
Tip #4: Be grateful for the past, welcome the future
Gosh, I’ll never forget watching Game Three against the Anaheim Ducks on that moonlit night in the summer of 2017. My three month hiatus from grade school had just begun, and this was my first summer with a license. Life could not be better for me, as I tasted a new level of freedom and relaxation in an ice cold Coke bottle. One of the neighbors had brought out a projector screen, another neighbor supplied the hot dogs and the burgers, and another generously streamed the game on his laptop. Kenny Albert, the voice of the Predators on NBC during their run, echoed through that cul-de-sac: “Ekholm FIRES… JOSI SCOOOORES!!!” That night, I had a piece of Bridgestone Arena. I felt Arvidsson’s elation as he embraced Josi, I felt Josi’s relieving, joyful arrogance as he slammed the glass, I felt every single fan stand up when the puck landed on Josi’s stick, the eyes widening, the mouth formulating only pure happy noises, the fists extending above the head, I felt everything there in that cul-de-sac. And I have chased the way I felt that night all the way into a sports journalism career. To this day, it is one of my happiest memories.
But, that isn’t now.
And let’s face it, it hasn’t felt that way in a long time. These aren’t the Predators we used to know. The makeup of the team has changed completely several times, and the coaching doesn’t match the players. Roles of players have changed, others have been traded. David Poile trusted a select core group to carry the team per request from the team and they consistently delivered mediocre performances. And Poile kept bringing the same issues back, year in and year out. I was optimistic for this season because after moving some big pieces out of Nashville, presumably, the young players would finally get their chance to earn their stripes. Then Poile stripped their opportunities from them.
Instead of hoping to recapture the magic of the past, why not create opportunities for the future? Why not move away from comfortability and challenge young players to earn their place?
The future of this organization could be bright, there’s no question about it. But the future can be the present if they allow it to be. I understand needing some extra padding because the COVID restrictions demand such, but any player in the Predators organization would revel the chance to earn a full-time spot in the lineup and potentially make the lineup better. If you don’t believe me, watch a little bit of Mathieu Olivier.
It’s okay to reminisce and enjoy the past, but chasing something from the past disables you from seeing the future. Embrace the struggles that young players have. Embrace paying the dues as a fan. Nashville had a long period of playoff-caliber hockey and there were a lot of excellent memories made, but the youth movement needs to be in effect if we’re to make new ones in the near future.
Tip #5: Pick a different team!
Had I not bought or inherited any of the merchandise, I wouldn’t feel obligated to any team. It’s too late for me. You can change.
Root for the winners– and if you lose, just say you were rooting for the team that won. And as ridiculous as that sounds, you don’t ever have to lose again! We all don’t like to lose, so just put on a different colored shirt with a different logo and you can win for the rest of your life.
Tip #6: Pick a different league!
There’s always more hockey. That’s part of my job with PBR– finding more hockey.
NWHL. High school. Juniors. College. AHL. ECHL. OHL. KHL. Go down the list. Find your favorite mascot, and enjoy!
Tip #7: Lie to yourself!
I changed my mind. They’re the best team in the league and I’m not going to check the facts, and I will not listen to you if you try to argue with me.
See how easy that was?
Tip #8: Adjust your budget for extra alcohol!
For legal purposes, I do not condone underage drinking, drinking and driving, or drinking to quell bad moods.
But I would never tell someone not to have a good time in the comfort of their own home, and it never hurts to have it around.
Tip #9: Just Lower Your Expectations
Guys, it isn’t easy to accept when something’s bad. But the Predators are bad.
So lower your expectations. Maybe the team will feel motivated to prove us wrong.