I tuned in with right at 40 seconds left in tonight's conference quarter final game between the Nashville Predators and the San Jose Sharks. It was as they say, "deja vu all over again," the Predators trailing 3-1 in the series and behind in their last ditch effort to live to play another day.
The outcome was also the same. Time ran out and the season ended.
As playoff series go, this one was not one for the ages. While I am not too upset as a fan, my thoughts begin turning to the future. I grabbed my jersey off a chair set up in our office, taken off before heading to bed two nights ago. It still bears the Nashville Arena logo instead of the saber tooth skull, a quick way to distinguish the age of the garment. I was accustomed to wearing it to class on game days (and a few times for no reason at all) in college. It almost goes without saying that its not quite business casual, so it will hang quietly in our closet until October. Samantha pretty much has free reign over the television until at least August when college and professional football season starts up. I understand there is a new episode of Heroes coming out.
Our local newspaper ran a series of stories pointing to slow season ticket sales, wavering corporate and fan support for a team that at the time was leading the NHL in overall games won and points earned. Matters became more dire when even the national media started pointing to all the signs that a great deal of the future of the franchise hinged on their performance in the playoffs. Without winning a road game and picking up only four home wins spread out over three seasons, the playoff collapses are becoming legendary.
Few would argue that when the game ended, a bunch of question marks sudden appeared on just about everyone on the ice and on (or behind) the bench. If the team is to remain in Nashville, it is obvious that changes will come. The franchise has now turned its attention to its tenth season in Nashville, and a rough road behind it. Star power has not brought about deep playoff runs. Fan support has not followed the teams rise through the standings. Something is simply not right.
Following sports is the closest thing I can call a hobby. Web programming and design lost that distinction when they became part of my occupation. My only other past-time involves politics, which is about the only way I will hear about hockey in Nashville this summer. I do not pay the property tax in Davidson county, so I do not feel qualified to speak for anyone other than myself when it comes to paying for professional sports teams. I look at them as an investment opportunity for the city, with dividends paid in prestige and some financial boosts in the local economy. Others see them as a lavish waste of property and resources. I am sure the truth is somewhere in the middle.
I try to buy tickets whenever my budget allows. This year in particular, I ended up on the short end of that stick most of the time, unable to purchase the $15 variety cheap seats. Professional sports tend to be rather unkind to the budget conscious though, as ticket prices will increase next season. This may mean I attend even less than the handful of games I caught this year. At least I now have a good cable package though.
I do not think the Nashville Predators are packing up and heading to Kansas City (where a new arena sits vacant to lure any franchise trying to make the jump) or any other city bidding for an NHL team. I have to wonder, however, how long that would be the case if the team does not stay on top of the regular season standings and if ticket sales do not meet the 14,000 or so average per game required to keep Metro from paying a substantial penalty. Next season will hinge on the off-season moves and how much tough love the front office is ready to show when it comes to finding talented players that can keep the franchise among hockey's elite. The outlook does not look good if we trade places with any of the teams that finished in the cellar this year.
I do not want to read the papers tomorrow. You can only take so much doom and gloom. Hopefully we can go out and enjoy the nice weather this weekend, a welcome change from the chilled and windy days of late. It is going to be a long summer.