Tuesday, September 6, 2011
The Nashville Predators are coming off of their most successful season in franchise history after advancing to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time. That's a huge step for the team in many different aspects.
During last season's playoff run, the Predators got more attention from the hockey world than ever before. Huge numbers of media members were covering the second round series against the Vancouver Canucks, and the world got to see that Nashville was a viable hockey market.
Advancing to the second round of the playoffs also allowed the organization to make more money. For a low budget team like the Predators, any additional money that is earned is invaluable.
Last season's success also gives the players confidence and experience. They know they can win a playoff series, which is huge for the team's psyche. As the team achieves more success, the expectations for them begin to rise in the fan base and internally.
Before last season, a Nashville Predators fan would really have one desire for the upcoming season. Get out of the first round. Please. Well, the Predators accomplished that goal.
Now, there's a new level of expectations around town. Simply getting out of the first round is no longer good enough for fans, players or the front office. A deeper playoff run is the new standard in Smashville. Dare I say it? People in Nashville want the Stanley Cup coming down Broadway in June.
Sure, the ultimate goal has always been to win the Stanley Cup. It's what every hockey player dreams of winning, and it's what every fan of every team in the NHL wants for their team and their city. However, expectations are much higher for the 2011-2012 Nashville Predators than they have ever been before.
It's a great thing to see. After all, if you're not in it to be the best then what's the use in playing the game? Most of the traditional hockey markets truly believe they have a chance to win the Stanley Cup each year. Nashville isn't a traditional hockey market, but it's a hockey market nonetheless. The fact that people are beginning to expect more out of the Preds is proof of that.
Higher expectations are a healthy sign for the the organization. It seems David Poile and his staff are committed to winning. I fully expect them to add the appropriate pieces at the appropriate times this year. The Predators' ownership also seems to be really committed to putting the Predators in a position to compete for a championship.
Last year's success, and the expectations for this year, are signs of the continued growth of this franchise. As the market grows, the level of expectations grow. People don't want mediocrity. People want a winner, and Nashville is no different. Can that add more pressure for a hockey team? Sure. However, the good thing for Nashville fans is that the players have the same expectations as the fans do.
Posted by Robby Stanley at 11:32 PM