Shea Weber

Ahead of Trotz’s Nashville return, read ‘Music City Miracle’ on NBC’s Sportsworld

6 Comments

Tonight promises to be an emotional affair in Nashville when Barry Trotz — the first-ever Predators head coach, who held his title for 15 years — makes his return to the Music City as the head coach of the Washington Capitals.

Trotz has a special bond with Nashville, and it with him. For more on that connection, be sure to check out the piece CSN Washington’s Chuck Gormley wrote for NBC Sportsworld, which highlights Trotz’ involvement with Best Buddies — a program that develops friendships, employment opportunities and leadership skills for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities — in the state of Tennessee.

An excerpt, from Music City Miracle:

Like many parents of children with disabilities, Capitals coach Barry Trotz and his wife, Kim, had those same concerns for their son, Nolan, who also has Down syndrome. But until [Best Buddies state director Anneliese] Barron came to Trotz with the idea of developing a Best Buddies program in the state of Tennessee, neither had any idea what they could accomplish.

The two met for lunch in 2009 and when Trotz agreed to speak at a Best Buddies fundraiser, the donations started rolling in.

“No one knows who I am, but everyone knows who Barry Trotz is,” Barron said. “He just dove in headfirst.”

Before long, former Predators defenseman Dan Hamhuis was matched with a buddy and defenseman Shea Weber and goaltender Pekka Rinne did the same, inviting their new friends into the Predators locker room.

Trotz, who showed up with a handful of autographed jerseys and sticks at the first fundraiser for Best Buddies, became so driven to get the program off the ground that he bought jerseys from every NHL team and had them autographed for auction items.

When Brad Paisley, Aerosmith or any other band rolled into Nashville to play at Bridgestone Arena, Trotz would buy dozens of guitars and get them signed by band members, auctioning them off as fundraisers.

By January 2010, Best Buddies of Tennessee reached its goal of $200,000 and officially opened its doors with Barron as its part-time state director. In the five years since, Best Buddies has grown from less than 100 participants in two colleges to close to 4,000 participants in 80 middle schools, high schools and colleges throughout Tennessee. Barron is now joined by 14 Best Buddies staff members.

“I can see the change in people’s attitudes because of the program,” Barron said. “Even though Matthew [her son, now 8] doesn’t have his own buddy right now, I can sense the attitude and the acceptance is already different for him.

“It makes me want to cry.”

Tributes to Trotz and his legacy in Nashville have been running all day. Two more worth checking out:

The Washington Post looks at Trotz’s impact on both the city and the development of its hockey community.

Yahoo looks at how Trotz gave the Predators their name, identity and foundation.

So, who was the biggest All-Star snub?

54 Comments

The remainder of the 2015 NHL All-Star Game rosters were announced on Saturday.

While some “snubs” are probably quite happy about getting a break (especially Joe Thornton, who’s taking a nice trip to Cabo), you can bet plenty of fan bases will gripe about players who didn’t make it, even if they might not realize that all 30 NHL teams must be represented in some form.

Well, if you’re going to gripe about it, why not do it in the comfy confines of PHT? Before you vote for the biggest snub of them all, however, let’s take a look at who’s on the roster:

Fan voted: Zemgus Girgensons, Buffalo Sabres
Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Brent Seabrook, Duncan Keith, Corey Crawford, Chicago Blackhawks

Forwards: 
Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks
Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins
Nick Foligno, Columbus Blue Jackets
Ryan Johansen, Columbus Blue Jackets
Tyler Seguin, Dallas Stars
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Edmonton Oilers
Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings
Patrik Elias, New Jersey Devils
John Tavares, New York Islanders
Rick Nash, New York Rangers
Bobby Ryan, Ottawa Senators
Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers
Jakub Voracek, Philadelphia Flyers
Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins
Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins
Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis Blues
Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning
Tyler Johnson, Tampa Bay Lightning
Phil Kessel, Toronto Maple Leafs
Radim Vrbata, Vancouver Canucks
Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals

Defensemen: 
Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Arizona Coyotes
Mark Giordano, Calgary Flames
Justin Faulk, Carolina Hurricanes
Erik Johnson, Colorado Avalanche
Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings
Ryan Suter, Minnesota Wild
Shea Weber, Nashville Predators
Brent Burns, San Jose Sharks
Kevin Shattenkirk, St. Louis Blues
Dustin Byfuglien, Winnipeg Jets

Goalies: 
Sergei Bobrovsky, Columbus Blue Jackets
Jimmy Howard, Detroit Red Wings
Roberto Luongo, Florida Panthers
Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens
Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators

Rookies: 
Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames
Aaron Ekblad, Florida Panthers
Tanner Pearson, Los Angeles Kings
Filip Forsberg, Nashville Predators
Mike Hoffman, Ottawa Senators
Jonathan Drouin, Tampa Bay Lightning

OK, did you get a chance to scan the list? Good. Pick the biggest nub in the poll below. If your guy was double-snubbed (gasp), then write him in.

Crosby, Ovechkin headline 2015 All-Star Game roster

65 Comments

We already know that Zemgus Girgensons was voted into the 2015 All-Star Game alongside Chicago Blackhawks players Corey Crawford, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Jonathan Toews. The NHL trotted out the rest of the best today:

36 Additional All-Stars

Forwards
Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks
Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins
Nick Foligno, Columbus Blue Jackets
Ryan Johansen, Columbus Blue Jackets
Tyler Seguin, Dallas Stars
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Edmonton Oilers
Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings
Patrik Elias, New Jersey Devils
John Tavares, New York Islanders
Rick Nash, New York Rangers
Bobby Ryan, Ottawa Senators
Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers
Jakub Voracek, Philadelphia Flyers
Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins
Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins
Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis Blues
Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning
Tyler Johnson, Tampa Bay Lightning
Phil Kessel, Toronto Maple Leafs
Radim Vrbata, Vancouver Canucks
Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals

Defensemen
Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Arizona Coyotes
Mark Giordano, Calgary Flames
Justin Faulk, Carolina Hurricanes
Erik Johnson, Colorado Avalanche
Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings
Ryan Suter, Minnesota Wild
Shea Weber, Nashville Predators
Brent Burns, San Jose Sharks
Kevin Shattenkirk, St. Louis Blues
Dustin Byfuglien, Winnipeg Jets

Goaltenders
Sergei Bobrovsky, Columbus Blue Jackets
Jimmy Howard, Detroit Red Wings
Roberto Luongo, Florida Panthers
Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens
Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators

6 Rookies

Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames
Aaron Ekblad, Florida Panthers
Tanner Pearson, Los Angeles Kings
Filip Forsberg, Nashville Predators
Mike Hoffman, Ottawa Senators
Jonathan Drouin, Tampa Bay Lightning

The “fantasy draft” will take place on Jan. 23, with the captains for each team being announced sometime next week.

Weber, Preds top Stars in overtime

7 Comments

Shea Weber had the overtime winner as the Nashville Predators edged the Dallas Stars 3-2 Thursday night.

With the win, Nashville leapfrogs Anaheim for top spot in the NHL standings. The Predators also have two games in hand on the Ducks.

Weber’s ninth of the season at 15:27 of the first period opened the scoring.

Miikka Salomaki, who was recalled on Thursday, scored his first NHL goal at 16:47 of the second period to give the Preds a 2-1 lead.

Jason Spezza and Trevor Daley had the Stars’ goals. Kari Lehtonen made 21 saves to drop to 17-8-7 on the season.

Pekka Rinne stopped 17 shots improving to 27-6-2 on the season.

Poll: Are the Preds legit Stanley Cup contenders?

38 Comments

The Nashville Predators are one of the big surprise teams of the 2014-15 NHL season.

Probably the biggest, actually.

Even with a healthy Pekka Rinne in goal and Norris Trophy candidate Shea Weber on the blue line, we can’t recall anyone who predicted the Preds would be 25-9-4 after 38 games, good for the highest points percentage in the NHL.

In fact, prior to the season, online sportsbook Bovada set Nashville’s point total at just 76.5. To fall short of that now, the Preds would need to finish something like 12-31-1. That’s how good they’ve been, relative to expectations.

So, with a spot in the playoffs seeming all but assured, the question is begging to be asked — do the Preds have what it takes to win it all?

The argument for ‘Yes’

Nashville has the second-best goals-against average in the NHL. And if there’s one thing that recent Stanley Cup winners have shown us, it’s that defense wins championships.

Goals against of past six Stanley Cup champs
2013-14 Kings (1st, 2.05)
2012-13 Blackhawks (1st, 2.02)
2011-12 Kings (2nd, 2.07)
2010-11 Bruins (2nd, 2.30)
2009-10 Blackhawks (6th, 2.48)

And as the Preds showed this weekend, they can also put the puck in the net. Nashville’s offense is now tied for seventh in the league, averaging 2.95 goals per game. Five-on-five, no team has a higher goals for/against ratio than the Preds, at 1.47.

The argument for ‘No’

It’s more of a subjective one. No matter how good Nashville’s numbers look right now, and no matter how much talent they have in goal and on the back end, can a team really win the Stanley Cup with Mike Ribeiro as its first-line center? Because that’s who it is for the Preds — the 34-year-old who signed for peanuts after he got bought out by the Coyotes due to “behavioral issues” and has never entered the conversation when debating the truly elite centers in hockey.

That conversation has been limited to the likes of Jonathan Toews, Sidney Crosby, Ryan Getzlaf, Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Patrice Bergeron, Joe Thornton, and Anze Kopitar. You know, players that have won Stanley Cups. Or Hart Trophies. Or Selke Trophies. Or Conn Smythe Trophies.

Go ahead and search the list. Try to find a team that’s won the Stanley Cup without a top center with some serious credentials. You won’t find many.

Time to vote!