Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Nashville JDRF Walk Saturday

In a non-hockey related note, the Nashville walk for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation is taking place this Saturday at the Bicentennial Mall in downtown Nashville at 600 James Robertson Parkway.

This is a cause that is near to my heart. My youngest brother was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at the age of four and has dealt with it every day for the last five years. In May of 2011, I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes as well.

Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disease that attacks the pancreas. It destroys the beta cells in the human body that produce insulin, which is the body's way of keeping blood glucose levels under control. Without those beta cells, patients with Type 1 Diabetes have to artificially supply their bodies with insulin. I do that by injections at least four times a day.

People who deal with Type 1 Diabetes daily have to constantly be aware of their blood sugar levels. It's a never-ending battle. But, with your help, we can come that much closer to finding a cure.

If you would like to stop by the JDRF walk on Saturday, it begins at 10 a.m. You can also make a donation to my team at the following link: http://www2.jdrf.org/site/TR/Walk-TN/Chapter-MiddleTennessee4622?team_id=53114&pg=team&fr_id=1834

Thank you for your help.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

NHL cancels preseason games through Sept. 30

The National Hockey League announced on Wednesday that all preseason games around the league through Sept. 30 will be cancelled. Here is the official statement from the NHL:

The National Hockey League announced today the cancellation of the 2012 preseason schedule through Sept. 30. In addition, the 2012 Kraft Hockeyville preseason game, scheduled for Oct. 3 in Belleville, Ontario, has been postponed to 2013.

The cancellation of the schedule was necessary because of the absence of a Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NHL Players' Association and the NHL.

While the Kraft Hockeyville game has been postponed, many of the scheduled celebrations in the winning community of Stirling-Rawdon, Ontario, will proceed as planned beginning on Sept. 30.

With news of preseason games being cancelled, the NHL has a mess on their hands. They simply cannot afford to have a lengthy lockout. Missing preseason games, while thoroughly disappointing from a financial standpoint and a fan's standpoint, isn't the end of the world. However, with no agreement in sight between the NHL and the NHLPA, the chances of the regular season starting on time aren't good. And that is bad news for hockey fans.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Preds extend Bourque before CBA expires

The Nashville Predators announced today that they have signed forward Gabriel Bourque to a two-year, $1.55 million contract beginning in the 2013-14 season. This announcement comes a day before the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NHL and the NHLPA is set to expire. Here is the official press release regarding Bourque's contract extension:

Nashville, Tenn. (September 14, 2012)- Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced today that the club has signed forward Gabriel Bourque to a two-year, $1.55 million contract which starts with the 2013-14 season. The deal will pay him $725,000 in 2013-14 and $825,000 in 2014-15.

Bourque, 21 (9/23/90), posted 19 points (7g-12a) in 43 games during his rookie NHL season in 2011-12, ranking ninth in points per game among rookies who appeared in at least half their team's games (.44). During the 2012 playoffs, the 5-10, 192-pound winger tied for the team lead in goals (3), and ranked third in points (5), also ranking among the rookie leaders in both categories. Bourque set franchise records for points (3g-1a-4pts) and plus-minus rating (+5) by a rookie in a playoff series in Nashville's Western Conference Quarterfinal victory vs. Detroit, which included scoring two goals, including the game winner, in his NHL playoff debut in Game One, making him the third player in the last 14 playoff years to attain the feat.

The Rimouski, Que., native--selected 132nd overall (fifth round), in the 2009 Entry Draft - helped Moncton win the 2010 President's Trophy as QMJHL Champions and advance to the 2010 Memorial Cup, being awarded the 2010 Guy Lafleur Trophy as playoffs MVP in the process. Bourque earned a silver medal with Canada at the 2010 World Junior Championships.

(Photo Credit: Leanne Charles)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Preds sign Blum to one-year deal

The Nashville Predators announced today that they have signed defenseman Jonathon Blum to a one-year deal worth $650,000 at the NHL level. Here is the official press release:

Nashville, Tenn. (September 13, 2012)- Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced today that club has signed defenseman Jonathon Blum to a one-year, two-way contract worth $650,000 at the NHL level and $105,000 at the AHL level.

Blum, 23 (01/30/89), played in 33 games with Nashville in 2011-12, recording seven points (3g-4a), and 48 games with the AHL's Milwaukee Admirals, notching 26 points (4g-22a). The 6-1, 191-pound blueliner saw his first action with the Predators in 2010-11, playing 23 regular season games before suiting up for all 12 of the team's 2011 postseason contests, recording two assists and ranking fourth among team defensemen in average ice time (18:51). In 56 career regular season NHL contests, Blum has 15 points (6g-9a).

A native of Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif., Blum became the first native of the Golden State to be selected in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft when Nashville selected him 23rd overall style in the 2007 Entry Draft. Blum rounded out a decorated junior career with the Vancouver Giants (WHL) in 2009 by being named CHL Defenseman of the Year, and as the franchise's all-time leader in defensive scoring (248gp, 49g-155a-204pts). During his tenure, the team claimed four division titles, two conference titles, a WHL Championship and a Memorial Cup Championship.

(Photo Credit: Leanne Charles)

Press Release: Preds sign Sissons to entry-level contract

The Nashville Predators announced today that they have signed 2012 second-round draft pick Colton Sissons to a three-year entry-level contract. Here is the official press release:

Nashville, Tenn. (September 13, 2012) – Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced today that the club has signed 2012 second-round draft pick Colton Sissons (KOHL-tuhn SIH-suhnz) to a three-year entry-level contract.

Sissons, 18 (11/5/93), is entering his second season as captain of the Western Hockey League’s Kelowna Rockets in 2012-13. A season ago, the 6-0, 187-pound right wing ranked second on Kelowna in goals (26), and tied for third in points (41), in addition to pacing the club in power-play goals (13). Sissons also captained Team Orr to a 2-1 victory at the 2012 Home Hardware Top Prospects Game and served as an alternate captain for Team WHL at the 2011 Subway Super Series.

The North Vancouver, B.C., was Nashville's second choice, 50th overall (second round), in 2012 Entry Draft, and says he models his game after Predators forward Mike Fisher.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Smith no longer 'wandering around in the dark' at NHL level

The word "experience" is thrown around in many different aspects of life, not just in sports. By default, people are better prepared to handle any given situation when they've had prior experience in dealing with that situation. Nashville Predators forward Craig Smith got 72 regular season games worth of NHL experience in the 2011-12 season, and the Predators are hoping that experience will catapult consistent production in the upcoming 2012-13 season.

Smith took the NHL by storm early last season when he posted 14 points in his first 15 games. As the season went on, Smith began to struggle with is consistency and ended the year with 14 goals and 22 assists. By the time the playoffs came around, Smith usually found himself watching the games from the pressbox.

After Nashville was eliminated in the second round of the playoffs by the Phoenix Coyotes, Smith immediately went overseas to Europe to join Team USA in the IIHF World Championships. He was an effective player for Team USA, recording two assists in four games played. However, Team USA suffered a disappointing finish when they were eliminated by Team Finland in the Quarterfinals. Despite the disappointing finish, however, Smith values the time he spent in Europe representing the Red, White and Blue.

"It was good. I got to jump in late with the guys. Everyone was great. I really enjoyed their company and letting me join the team. We made some good runs and I thought we should've went further. I really felt the last game was a little bitter. It was a really good experience getting to go over there and play for the USA again and meeting some guys around the league," Smith said.

Now that one year of NHL experience is behind him, Smith feels much more comfortable coming into the 2012-13 season than he did approaching his rookie season. The grueling 82-game regular season schedule in the NHL takes a toll on the body, but it also takes a mental toll on players who haven't dealt with anything like that before in their hockey careers. That's something something that Smith now knows how to handle.

"I just know what's going on now,' Smith said. 'The biggest thing was trying to catch up on the regiment every day. What am I doing? Where do I go if I need this? Now, I'm kind of familiar with the town. It's a better feeling coming in when you know people and you know where to go and your schedule throughout the day. When you're wandering around in the dark, it's pretty hard to find the light."

Coming from college directly into the NHL without being exposed to the AHL was a big culture shock for Smith. During his time at the University of Wisconsin, a big chunk of the games he played were held exclusively on the weekends. He had time to be a normal college student and worry about his classes. In the NHL, there is a set schedule that players have when they're with the team, but there aren't any classes or anything to worry about during time away from the rink. Often times, Smith found himself not really knowing what to do with his down time.

"You've just got to jump in and be flexible. I didn't have things going on throughout the day and it was just kind of like 'OK, well what am I going to do today?' Now it's a thing where you're taking care of your body. I know what I have to do. Take a nap here and make sure I'm feeling good, and I think that's some of the small, important details," Smith said.

Smith's game dropped off toward the end of last season, but those last few months were critical for him. Even though he may not have been playing in every game, Smith learned some very valuable lessons during Nashville's playoff run that he thinks can make him a more consistent player all season long in 2012-13.

"I just think, just from watching the playoffs and especially watching the team and getting to play in playoff games, it's just doing the right things all the time and not stepping out from the player that you are. If you're doing those things, you just know in your head that good things are going to happen. I think that's one of the biggest things. Make the right play. We always talked about it in college. Mike Eaves always used to say 'Take what is given.' I always kind of thought of that and that's always making the right play," Smith said.

With young, versatile players like Smith and Colin Wilson who have the ability to play on the wing and at center, the Predators have a lot of options and depth at forward heading into the 2012-13 season. Now only time will tell how much Smith has learned from one full year of NHL experience and how he can apply that to avoid a "sophomore slump."

(Photo Credit: Leanne Charles)