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Notes from Pred Nation…
- The Nashville Predator's rather public pursuit of Phil Kessel has drawn some raised eyebrows and some interesting quotes from Sports Illustrated writer Allan Muir… while I disagree with his assessment of the definition for success in Pred Nation, I can’t disagree with this quote… “Say what you want about the size of the hockey market in Nashville, but there may not be a more passionate fan base in the league. And they deserve better than this endless cycle of mediocrity. It’s about time Pred Nation got a little national love. You can read the whole article here: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/writers/allan_muir/09/11/kessel.maclean/index.html#ixzz0RMaftKQA
- Another interesting nugget from the same article involves Jim Balsillie and his hiring of ex Columbus GM Doug MacLean to join his merry band of raiders in his endless pursuit of an NHL franchise. Problem is, MacLean has been highly and quite publically critical of Balsillie and his quest. Amazing how minds can be opened with a few bucks and some hope for a job… the best quote from the article… “... until Balsillie found the right amount of money to throw at a suitably desperate man. MacLean is being pilloried for abandoning his principles, and well he should be. A radio and TV commentator in Canada since being sacked by the Jackets in 2007, MacLean routinely used his bully pulpit to excoriate Balsillie's back door approach. To ally himself with the man now reveals plenty about his character.” Amen.
- It’s game night. I’ve been waiting awhile to say that. Expect a big crowd tonight at Sommet Center for the game against Atlanta that drops the puck on Pred Fest 09. I know I’m looking forward to seeing Colin Wilson in the lineup for the game. Also looking forward to seeing the new third jersey revealed in pre-game.
It’s the 17th installment in my month long series of previews of every team in the NHL. Today New Jersey… tomorrow, the New York Islanders.
New Jersey Devils – The Devils are like a Timex watch, they take a licking and keep on ticking. Devils hockey has been successful for more than a decade, Lou Lamoriello has been the architect of quite a few reloads versus rebuilds. The team survived a 50 game injury to Martin Brodeur to capture their division and looked to move on in the playoffs until a miracle comeback from Carolina sent them packing to early tee times. A change behind the bench ensued before an uneventful offseason.
Last Year’s Record – 51-27-4 106 points. 1st in the Atlantic Division, 3rd in the Eastern Conference
Key Additions – Cory Murphy
Key Subtractions – Brian Gionta, Scott Clemmensen, John Madden, Mike Rupp
Division Match Up – The Atlantic Division saw four teams make the playoffs, packing New Jersey, Pittsburgh and Philly into the 3-4-5 seeds and the New York Rangers into the 7 seed. The division looks to be just as strong this year but I have to wonder if New Jersey has the horses to contend for the division again.
Outlook for 2009-2010 – Any team with a healthy Martin Brodeur will be a contender, but there may be a lot of 1-0, 2-1 games at the Rock this year, especially as the Devils welcome back Jacques Lemaire as their head coach. His style will help make up for a potential lack of goal scoring and may help quite a few folks with insomnia in North Jersey. This team was middle of the pack in goals last year and didn’t add much pop to replace the scoring of Gionta and Madden. Expect lots of responsible defense from across the lineup and plenty of tight, low-scoring games. Brodeur has to stay healthy as last year's backup sensation Scott Clemmensen is now backing up Tomas Vokoun in Florida. A nagging question in my mind... What will the impact of their heartbreaking playoff ouster last year be? The Devils can’t be considered a favorite to repeat as division champs but should be a playoff contender right up till the end of the season.
The new HockeyBuzzRadio.com is live! Check out the new site with pictures from training camp, coverage of the Peterson for Parkinson’s event and a new exclusive column from HBR’s own Mark McGee.
You are invited to follow me on Twitter @PredPAPaul Not only will I be updating when I get news or updates… I’ll also be updating during Predator home games with information and explanations from the PA box, starting lineups before they are announced in arena and interesting things as they happen in-game.
HockeyBuzz Radio cranks it up again two weeks from tonight with a detailed preview of the NHL season. Pete Weber is joining the show as co-host. He will bring a depth of knowledge and his slightly bent sense of humor to the proceedings. We are very excited to welcome Pete as a full-time member of the HBR team!
The season premier is Wednesday September 30th at 6pm on air at SportsRadio 560 WNSR, on line and on podcast at HockeyBuzzRadio.com.