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Skate of the Union thoughts

Rather than attempt to re-create everything from the event, I’m going to start off by showing you what others are saying:

Dirk’s take at On The Forecheck, Buddy and Jackson Video at Preds on the Glass, and Mark’s take from The View from 111.

Before the much-discussed town hall meeting, the Predators hosted quite a few different events to keep the crowd buzzing:
-Used Equipment Sale (featuring $40 sticks, as well as gloves, skates, helmets, and pads)  I walked out with a Martin Gelinas and Ryan Suter sticks.
-Steve Sullivan with the Masterton trophy, posing for pictures with fans.
-J.P. Dumont, Cody Franson, and Mark Dekanich all signing autographs for the fans.
-and last but not least, free popcorn and soda!

Predators radio personality Tom Callahan was floating around, as was the emcee for the evening Pete Weber.  Gnash was being his usual playful self, spending time with everyone he came across.

The real event of the evening though, was the Town Hall featuring David Freeman, David Poile, Ed Lang, Steve Sullivan, and J.P. Dumont.  Questions were submitted by the crowd during the other events, and the crowd didn’t hold back.  Detailed description after the break…

David Freeman
– It was two years ago that the journey began, and the team is much stronger that it was then.
– He began with giving credit to the scouts, and how we draft.  This led into building the team the “Predator Way”, by drafting well, and developing our players.  Once they’re developed, finding ways to keep them in the Predators system.
– The crowd pleasing answer to another question about putting up more money, was “We’re not New York…” which the crowd agreed with by applause and cheering.  We know we have to be responsible with the funds we have.
– Regarding the Boots bankruptcy, Freeman assured the crowd that at this point, the damage has been done, and it is not going to effect this franchise more than it has.
– Free Agency signings: “It may not be as sexy to bring your own players back” but keeping Sullivan and Ward were the targets this year.
– Third Jersey notes:  Going to take design from the Original Six, and keep a very traditional approach.  We’re hearing September for an unveiling.  New tradition will attempt to be established on Saturday nights “Hockey Night in Nashville”, and will likely have the third jersey featured in those games.

Ed Lang
– Ticket sales are holding steady with last year’s numbers.  Additional sales staff have been added so more cold calls and opportunities to talk to customers are happening.
– FS Tennessee is going to be carrying 55 games for the Predators this season.  There will be more games in HD, but understand this is an expensive undertaking.
– Military Mondays, Fellowship Nights, and Family Nights will continue.  A fresh approach on promotions this year, possibly less, but much more emphasis on getting them right.
– The new convention center is going to pose possible parking issues, but discussions with Metro, MHDA, and parking companies are ongoing to ensure the communication goes out about where people can park in downtown Nashville.
– If you thought Fangtastic February was interesting last year, wait until March in this year’s schedule.  17 games in March.  Sully’s response was priceless.

David Poile
– Winter Classic: Neyland Stadium, January 1, Predators v. Red Wings. 8-0 would be a nice way to handle that.
– The entire defensive core of the Nashville Predators this season, will very likely be draft picks that have developed in our system.  Re-read that. Wow.
– Alex Radulov is not coming back to Nashville.  What’s happened, has happened.  It’s frustrating, but it’s time to move on.
– This is the year for Legwand and Erat to step up.  (Where have we heard that lately?)
– Ryan Ellis (while not the crowd’s choice initially) is going to develop into the defensive version of Steve Sullivan.
– He expressed a lot of faith in Steve Sullivan being healthy, and being a major factor in the first line.  Also thought the Twitter regarding Sully not selling his house got out before Poile could tell anyone that Sullivan was re-signed.
– He’s thrilled to be a grandfather.

Steve Sullivan
– He doing the exact same exercises that he did to get back from September to January, except he’s doing heavier weight and more elaborate workouts.
– Said a lot of great things about Pekka Rinne in net, including how frustrating it is in practice to try to get a puck past him.
– Expressed a lot of good reviews of Cal O’ Reilly including some chemistry that instantly developed.
– Legwand, Erat, among others are all going to find their peak soon, they’re young, and still have many years of hockey left in them.
– When he became a free agent, he had no intentions of leaving Nashville, he just had to see what he was worth.
– When he retires, he sees himself sticking around the Nashville area.
– Oh, and those TV timeouts?  They love that.

J.P. Dumont
– J.P. expressed a similar love of Nashville that Sullivan mentioned, while his family is from Montreal, they love the city of Nashville.
– The TV timeouts?  Yeah, he gets chill bumps too.  Other teams ask why we’re doing it, they’re impressed that we support our team so much.
– When asked about the power play, Dumont looked at Sullivan and pointed to him being one of the big reasons that will improve this season.
J.P. had to leave early, so he didn’t get the barrage of questions that the others did.

All in all, a very successful event.  I had the opportunity to speak with David Freeman afterward, I told him immediately “Thank You” for his involvement in keeping hockey in Nashville.  After breaking the ice, we had a great conversation about the future of Nashville and laughed over a possible Winter Classic at Bristol Speedway.

Pictures and additional notes will likely turn up later today…