If you don't follow JR Lind on Twitter (@jrlind), you're probably denying yourself the closest thing to The Triple Deke you'll find from a Preds fan. In getting setup for tonight's game, we brought him on to show you he also has a blog and that there are decent Preds fans out there.
Check out Ill Communication here. They're the best coverage you'll find for what will be Conference III and the best daily coverage of the horrible shit on Sportsyapper there is.
1. Describe your level of excitement about the NHL's realignment plan. Do you think this is good for the Predators overall?
I'm so excited by the realignment I started a Wikipedia-induced fever dream of a blog about Conference III (or Division B as the NHL currently calls it - or the Midwest as they'll eventually, stupidly call it), so the NHL doesn't have to sell me on it.
I think the fans were upset about losing the Red Wings in the division, especially after the playoffs last year, but if you think about it, it's only three home games each year and, from a purely fiduciary standpoint, the Predators are no longer in a situation where they need the Red Wings to sell out games. Rivalry-wise, the Blackhawks and Blues are still around, there's bad blood with Minnesota because of the Suter situation, Dallas is starting to heat up (it's not just me who cares about it, either). There's even a little bad blood with Winnipeg because of the shared Southern experience with Atlanta; there's a fair number of converts.
From an on-ice perspective, the Red Wings are consistently good and the Blue Jackets look like they are finally heading in the right direction. So the Predators are trading the Wings for, say, Minnesota and Dallas and the Jackets for Colorado and Winnipeg. I think, hockey-wise, most everyone would make that trade.
2. What happened with the Preds this season? This couldn't have all been Suter leaving, right?
Losing Suter was a big part of it. He drove play. He could make the passes that led to clean zone entries. Without him, Roman Josi has been on the top pair and that's actually been OK most of the time, but it leaves a big hole next to Kevin Klein — who has been truly excellent this year, after signing a really affordable 5 year, $14.5M deal. In the past, that's a spot that someone like Francis Bouillon had filled, but he's gone too. So the lower three defensive positions have been held down by a failed experiment in Scott Hannan, the often-lost Jon Blum or one of two guys who are really specialists at this point in their careers — young power-play quarterback Ryan Ellis or primeval penalty-killing treeman Hal Gill. That's not ideal.
Injuries have been a big factor too, especially up front — where the Preds have never been world-beaters anyway. Colin Wilson was screaming along and finally earned Trotz's trust and got hurt. Gabriel Bourque was scoring and forechecking and drawing stick fouls like an All-Star and got hurt. Paul Gaustad's shoulder injury returned. Patric Hornqvist missed a bunch of time. Mike Fisher's been out and on and on. Neither Sergei Kostitsyn nor Craig Smith have been consistent. So now, fully half of the forwards are guys who spent time in Milwaukee.
So it looks like bad planning killed the defense and bad luck killed the forwards.
3. If you could relocate and rename any team in the league without having to worry about that making economic/geographic sense, what would you do with that power?
Ideally, I'd like to move Colorado into Central Time. Not the team, they can stay in Denver. I just want to move the entire Conference III Heptarchy into God's Time Zone.
That answer is cheating, I know. I think the proper Conference III position would be to move some Canadian team into Central Time, thus pissing off our northern cousins. Ottawa has the right misfits' attitude to join us — they aren't even the most popular team in their hometown, from what I understand (I don't speak very fluent Canadian). So let's move Ottawa to Kansas City.