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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Predators 08-09 Roster Finalized

(Warning: This article is full of sarcasm)

The Predators roster is still anyone's guess. Personally, i take David Poile at his word that, right or wrong, they will plan on relying on prospects to come up and fill vital roster spots at the forward position (to be more specific, i think they'll at least wait until camp and then make a free agent signing or trade based on what we need). Others like The Forechecker think (or at least hope) that the Preds will make another move before camp begins.

But of course all that is just talk. Those amazing hockey insiders at EA Sports have apparently used CIA level spying techniques (or maybe a time machine) to give us info that others can only speculate on.

Ladies and gentlemen, here is your NHL 09 Nashville Predators roster:

Jason Arnott, Radek Bonk, Jean-Pierre Dumont, Martin Erat, Vernon Fiddler, Martin Gelinas, Jan Hlavac, David Legwand, Scott Nichol, Jed Ortmeyer, Jerred Smithson, Steve Sullivan, Jordin Tootoo

Greg de Vries, Dan Hamhuis, Ryan Suter, Shea Weber, Greg Zanon, Cody Franson

Dan Ellis, Pekka Rinne

So what can we glean from this?
  • Alexander Radulov, though under contract with the Predators, isn't going to be in the NHL this year (he isn't listed as a free agent either - just not in the game). He has been erased from existence (cue 'Back to the Future' clip here)
  • The Predators may lose Radulov, but will somehow talk Jan Hlavac out of signing with a Swedish Elite team and into coming back to Nashville. Wise move.
  • Steve Sullivan will be back on the ice, though skating a bit slower (or at least taking up a roster spot).
  • The Predators will resign the ageless Martin Gelinas despite all outward indications to the contrary. This is best explained by his ability to get a little press coverage every time the anniversary of the Great Gretzky Trade rolls around.
  • Despite going through all the hassle of arbitration and subsequent signing of Ville Koistinen to a new one year, one-way contract, the Predators will apparently buy him out with no trade in return and instead opt to go with minor leaguer Cody Franson. They will therefore have absolutely no offensively focused defensemen on the roster, which makes sense of course, given the obvious glut of scoring power at the forward position.
Wow. Just a heads up, if you try to play with this Predators roster, you're gonna be in a world of hurt (not to mention have little resemblance to the team that will actually take the ice this year). I know the Predators won't be favorites to win the cup, but at least we can take solace in the fact that we probably won't be this bad. I hope...

Other notes of interest:
  • Greg Zanon (Mr Body Sacrifice to you) is still listed as the 15th best shot blocker on the Predators (yes, Jordin Tootoo, Jed Ortmeyer and Jason Arnott are clearly the team leaders in this category).
  • David Legwand is rated as the 6th fastest player in the NHL. That's right folks, Steve Sullivan only looks faster because of his size apparently.
  • Martin Gelinas can also make his 38 year old knee, fresh from injury and surgery, propel him to the 3rd fastest spot on the roster.
  • Jordin Tootoo is the 7th toughest player in the league (hey Dallas, i though he was supposed to be a whiner?)
  • Overall Legwand is apparently our superstar in hiding. He is in the top three on the team in Speed, Acceleration, Deking, Agility, Offensive Awareness, Puck Control, Deflections...and probably a few more categories. Jason Arnott is really good too.
For the full Preds roster with all stats in fully sortable Google Spreadsheet format, check here.

As for the game itself, my big complaint last year was that few of the Predators players looked anything like themselves. Well, this year things aren't looking much better, though it's hard to say for sure. The NHL 09 website screenshot section features not a single picture with any Predators featured. The videos i have watched so far only had a single brief glimpse of Ryan Suter with his back turned to the camera. The only picture of a Preds player's face from the game that i can find is on this IGN page (picture at right). I can't tell for sure, but i can only assume from the "A" on the jersey that ends in the number 1 that it is either supposed to be Dumont or perhaps Legwand. Too bad it looks absolutely nothing like either of them. Meanwhile Paul Kariya, Vinny LeCavelie, Sindey Crosby, etc all look like themselves...at least a little. It looks like once again the Preds will be staffed by the generic-faced masses.

National TV Coverage

That lack of respect and consideration does fit nicely with the new TV schedule though. The NHL released the National TV schedule a few days ago (the FSN local TV schedule has yet to be released) and the Predators are all but absent. Out of 196 games scheduled to be televised on TSN, NBC, Versus, and Hockey Night In Canada - exactly 4 of them will feature the Nashville Predators. Now, i understand that the league wants to promote the Penguins and the Red Wings are always a huge draw, etc... and HNIC and TSN will naturally gravitate towards games with Canadian teams, but those teams have to play someone, right?

I guess we can't complain too much...the Panthers, Coyotes, and Hurricanes are all on TV only 4 times (along with the Preds), while the Ducks and Kings are only on 3 times ,and the lowly Columbus Bluejackets are only featured on national TV 2 times out of 196 games. With no exposure at the national level, is it any wonder why these franchises are struggling? I know it's a chicken-or-the-egg kinda problem, but this TV scheduling doesn't help them out any.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Is it my judgment, or is it really there?

I hate that I've been too busy to post. I also hate that two posts in a row are about less than awesome experiences on the bus. So before i get started, let me again say that i've been very pleased with how safe, clean, and overall how reliable my bus riding experience has been so far (the washboard streets that are 5th Ave and Lafayette not withstanding).

But since school started back a fwe days ago, i've seen more and moor of what i would essentially call child abuse and i have to get it off my chest. Some things have been more severe than others to be sure, and much of it i think is just my own judgment and experience filter making me see things that aren't there or at least exaggerating them. Certainly nothing i would call child protective services about. But...

Examples: Parents feeding an 18 month old and his 2.5 year old sister Cheetos - which the children first use as crayons and rub on the back of the seat in front of them before popping them in their mouths, with no intervention by the parent. Gross, and nutritionally negligent, but probably not as bad as i judge it to be. Then there are cases like the picture to the right. A little girl that couldn't have been more than 2, allowed to wander the bus by herself and talk to strangers (including me) while her mom stayed on the phone talking to someone. More than once she fell when the bus stopped because she couldn't hold her balance. The mom never flinched.

But other things are severe enough that i can have no response other than to be sad. Sad for the child, sad for the parent, sad for that parent as a child because often times the hereditary nature of dysfunction is so obvious, that the parent might as well stand up on the bus and tell us all about when...

Then there was this morning: A little boy who looked to be about 6 got on the bus wearing a backpack with his mom. Now, first off, school started a few days ago and he was getting on the city bus heading into town with her to the transfer station at about 8:00am - and they had to run to catch the bus. So either he wasn't going to school or was going to be very late. After a while he got a few papers out of his bag and started identifying letters. Not reading, but just identifying letters. His mom helped him, and he got a few of them wrong but most right. While i think most 6 year-olds should be able to identify letters better than he could, it was still great to see her working with him and his clear desire to learn. But then it went bad. He coughed. A rough cough that may have explained why he was going to work with mom instead of to school. But he made a critical mistake and didn't cover his mouth (like most kids his age). His mom then proceeded to yell at him to cover his mouth...and then slapped him. Three times. Hard. In the mouth. Hard enough that i could hear the slaps over the noise on the bus from about 8 feet away. Then the really odd part - the mom started to rock her large frame (she was probably around 250-300lbs) back and forth in her seat, the way you see some litte kids do when they're upset. She did it for the rest of the ride in to the terminal (another 10 minutes). The child didn't say a word and quietly put his school work back in his bag and sat in perfect, still silence.

Was it really that horrible - I guess not really. But watching it happen i was just filled with pity and sympathy for the situation. Prior to the cough/slap i was thinking how this child might be the first of his family to attend college, maybe even graduate high school (they got on at the stop in the projects). This was a picture of hope and a better life. Then suddenly a history of abuse (which is almost always learned and passed down through families) reached out and quite literally smacked the kid in the mouth. This kid may still grow up to be a great person, be successful (by whatever measure) and even do well academically...

But wow... the scene just hit me like a ton of bricks this morning.