Friday, August 24, 2012

Blum motivated to make NHL squad


Jonathon Blum has been working hard this summer to put himself in a position to compete for an NHL roster spot in Nashville once training camp rolls around. He came to Nashville for the summer to work on getting into prime physical condition with Strength and Conditioning Coach David Good, and he seems to be making progress.

"It's been great. I'm really learning a lot from David Good. I think this is exactly what I needed to work on with the coaches. David Poile said at the exit meetings what I needed to do, and I'm here doing it and getting in shape. A lot of the testing and stuff we've done has been up so I think everything has been going good in that aspect. I love the city here so it's always nice just to come back here early and be able to use the facilities here that the team has because they're really nice. It gives you every advantage to be a better player," Blum said.

Blum began the 2011-12 season in Nashville, beginning the season on the Predators' second defensive pairing with veteran Kevin Klein. However, Blum only played in 33 games for the Predators last season before being sent down to the team's AHL affiliate in Milwaukee. That experience was tough for Blum to accept, and he has been using it as motivation this summer during his workouts.

"It's the biggest thing I've ever gone through. The biggest challenge. I've proved that I can play here. I played 60-something straight games with the team and getting sent down and stuff was hard to take. I've proven that I can play top four minutes and be on this team in the NHL. This summer has really been a good summer for me to really put all that stuff that happened last year to good use in the gym," Blum said.

The physical tools that make NHL defensemen successful are there for Blum. After all, he was drafted in the first round by Nashville in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. For some reason, he simply wasn't able to be a productive player last year at the NHL or AHL level. However, Blum is making a change off the ice that could drastically improve his quality of play on the ice.

"I just think off the ice, just changing my habits of eating. The team has a nutritionist and being in contact with her a lot and really changing the way I eat. Getting body fat down and stuff like that. All  of that makes a difference being on the ice and being in top-level shape so I've been doing that," Blum said.

Now that the Predators have signed veteran defenseman Scott Hannan, Blum will really have to make a positive impression on the coaching staff during training camp if he wants to start the season in Nashville. However, Blum is obviously motivated heading into the 2012-13 season and a competitive battle for roster spots on defense would be healthy for the Predators in the long run.

(Photo Credit: Leanne Charles)

Monday, August 20, 2012

Fisher signs two-year extension with Nashville


The Nashville Predators announced on Monday night at their annual Skate of the Union that they have signed veteran forward Mike Fisher to a two-year contract extension worth $8.4 million. Here is the official press release:

Nashville, Tenn. (August 20, 2012) - Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced today that the club has signed forward Mike Fisher to a two-year, $8.4 million contract that will pay him $4.2 million in both 2013-14 and 2014-15.

Fisher, 32 (6/5/80), ranked second on the Predators in goals (24) and third in points (51) in 2011-12, in addition to ranking 11th in the NHL in game-winning goals (7). His offensive numbers - coupled with his solid defensive play (he posted a +11 and tied for eighth among NHL forwards in blocked shots with 76) - earned him the seventh-most votes for the Selke Trophy. The Peterborough, Ont., native also became the franchise's second-ever award winner as the recipient of the 2012 NHL Foundation Award, which recognizes a player who applies the core values of hockey - commitment, perseverance and teamwork - to enrich the lives of people in his community. In 774 career regular-season NHL games with Ottawa and Nashville since 1999, Fisher has amassed 411 points (196g-215a). In 97 playoff contests, he has 39 points (18g-21a) and advanced to the 2007 Stanley Cup Finals.

Ottawa's second selection, 44th overall (second round), in the 1998 Entry Draft was acquired by the Predators on Feb. 10, 2011 and proceeded to pace the club in points (3g-3a-6pts) during the franchise's first-ever series victory over Anaheim in the 2011 Western Conference Quarterfinals. He has twice represented Canada at the World Championships (2005 and 2009), earning a silver medal on both occasions.

(Photo Credit: Leanne Charles)

Friday, August 17, 2012

Preds sign veteran defenseman Scott Hannan


The Nashville Predators announced today that they have signed veteran defenseman Scott Hannan to a one-year, $1 million contract. Here is the official press release:

Nashville, Tenn. (August 17, 2012) - Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced today that the club has signed defenseman Scott Hannan to a one-year, $1 million contract.

Hannan, 33 (1/23/79), has amassed 197 points (33g-164a) and 522 penalty minutes in 908 regular-season games and 15 points (1g-14a) and 89 penalty minutes in 82 playoff games with San Jose, Colorado, Washington and Calgary since the 1998-99 season. The 6'1, 225-pound blueliner enters the 2012-13 season having played more games than any NHL defenseman in the last 10 seasons (798). Hannan dressed for 75-or-more games for the 11th consecutive season (78), and averaged more than 20 minutes of ice time for the ninth time in the last 10 seasons (20:21) with the Calgary Flames a season ago.

The Richmond, B.C., native was drafted 23rd overall (first round) by San Jose in the 1997 Entry Draft, and was part of the gold-medal winning Canadian squad at the 2004 World Cup of Hockey. He joins captain Shea Weber as Kelowna Rocket alums in the Predators organization, having posted 139 points (46g-91a) and 339 penalty minutes in 235 games with the club from 1995-99.

With the Hannan signing, the Predators now have two defensemen with more than 800 games of NHL experience for the first time in franchise history (Hannan, 908gp; Hal Gill, 1,070 gp). Both veterans -in addition to top-four blueliner Kevin Klein - also perennially rank among the League leaders in average penalty kill time on ice and blocked shots. That trio joins the two-time Norris Trophy runner-up Weber and talented, offensively gifted under-23 NHLers Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis, giving the Predators both three left shooting and three right shooting defensemen among their balanced top-six corps.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Predators plan to reduce Rinne's regular season workload


Nashville Predators superstar goaltender Pekka Rinne played in 73 games during the regular season last year, which tied Anaheim's Jonas Hiller for the most games played by a goaltender in the 2011-12 season.

Now that veteran goaltender Chris Mason will once again take his place between the pipes in Music City, will the Predators expect him to take some of Rinne's heavy regular season workload off his shoulders?

"That gets talked about all the time. Just like last year, there's a plan and then there's what really happens," said Nashville Predators General Manager David Poile.

Last season, Anders Lindback played in a total of 16 games for the Predators and posted a below average 5-8-0 record. While there is no question regarding Lindback's talent, his on-ice results simply weren't as good as they were in his first season with the Predators where he posted an 11-5-2 record.

"He didn't play as well last year as he did the year before. If you remember, in his first year, the first game of the season Pekka got hurt in the first game. Lindback came in in the first game here at home. Then we went to Chicago, who won the Stanley Cup, and we beat Chicago in no small part to how well he played," Poile said.

Things changed for Lindback in his second season with the Predators. A lot of it had to do with the fact that he simply wasn't playing often enough to establish any sort of rhythm. There were several different occasions throughout the season where Lindback would go nearly a month without making an appearance in a game. Even when he did get in the game, Lindback didn't get much goal support from his teammates. Whatever the reason, the Predators weren't winning a whole lot of games when Lindback was in net.

"(Lindback) couldn't seem to get the wins for us. He was just off a little bit. In fairness to him, he got to be playing so irregularly," Poile said.

With Nashville locking up Rinne to a long-term contract that will keep him in Nashville for the next seven years, they decided to deal Lindback to Tampa Bay in exchange for some draft picks this past summer. Lindback has a bright NHL future but he simply wasn't going to develop properly in Nashville sitting behind Rinne.

After Lindback's departure, the Predators decided to bring in a familiar, veteran presence in Mason to fill the role of backup goaltender. Mason brings quality NHL experience to the backup position and together with Rinne forms arguably the best goaltending duo in the league. Given all of his experience not only in the NHL but in Nashville as well, it's likely that Barry Trotz and the coaching staff will be more comfortable putting Mason in games that they may not have been with Lindback.

If Mason is able to take some of the heavy workload off of Rinne, it could benefit the Predators in the long-haul. A more rested Rinne in the latter half of the season would obviously benefit the Predators. After all, Rinne is arguably the best goalie in the league when he's on his game. It certainly seems like the Predators are planning on reducing Rinne's workload during the regular season. Of course, that's a lot easier said than done.

"There will be a game plan of all the opportunities where Chris Mason will play games. I would say it would be 57-25. Something like that. I would say that's probably where we start," Poile said.

If the Predators able able to get 25 games out of Mason while still competing for the Central Division crown, that could be a major plus for them heading into the postseason next year. However, in a league that has more parity than ever before, Rinne may have to play close to 70 games out of necessity.

"It's a little bit of a balancing act,' Poile said. 'But, again, you've got to make the playoffs first, and there's no shortcuts to getting there."

(Photo Credit: Leanne Charles)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Registration now open for Nashville Predators August/September G.O.A.L! session


Nashville, Tenn. (August 14, 2012) - The Nashville Predators are currently taking applicants for its upcoming session of Get Out and Learn (G.O.A.L!)- held two Fridays in August (24 and 31) and two in September (7 and 14) from 6:10-7 p.m. at Centennial SportsPlex in Nashville (222 25th Avenue North). Space is limited and registration can only be accessed through nashvillepredators.com/goal.

G.O.A.L. is a free on-ice youth hockey program hosted by the Predators in association with local ice rinks. Designed for boys and girls (ages 4-8) with no prior skating or hockey experience, the four-week program introduces the sport of ice hockey to kids while teaching the life experiences of teamwork, sportsmanship and self-confidence through athletic participation. Since October 2006, more than 2000 families have graduated from G.O.A.L!

Full hockey equipment, including skate rental, is provided free of charge. Once the four-week session is complete, hockey programs at both Centennial Sportsplex and A-Game Sportsplex will be available for continued development.

The Nashville Predators are dedicated to supporting youth hockey at all levels and recognize the need for local skating facilities to be accessible for beginners to help grow the sport. The Nashville Predators G.O.A.L! program is offered multiple times throughout the year; for more information, visit nashvillepredators.com/goal.