Tuesday night on the Nashville Predators flagship station 102.5 The Game, my broadcast partner Brent Peterson and I conducted our Season Wrap Up Show.
It took place a lot earlier than we had hoped,
but such is life. I thoroughly enjoyed my first full season on radio play by play, and I'd like to once again thank all of you that have listened and given me all kinds of support and constructive feedback. Special thanks to Brent, who has taught me tons about the game of hockey. He is truly a special, "one-of-a-kind" person who makes the job fun.
Also, a big thanks to the rest of our crew: Darren McFarland our studio host, locker room reporters Jeremy Gover and Chase McCabe, and our 1-2 punch behind the glass (producer Ryan Porth and highlight wizard Max Haldeman). These guys all enthusiastically work the late night hours to bring us the best broadcasts possible.
Now for the recap of the show:
Nashville General Manager David Poile:
Let’s think back to where the team was two years ago. After a run of seven playoff appearances in eight seasons, the Predators had hit a low point after the 2012-13 lockout-shortened season. The forwards needed an overhaul. The young talent on the team (both on the roster and in the farm system) was loaded with question marks. Fast forward to now, and there’s a lot to like about what has transpired, starting with the trade for Filip Forsberg and the drafting of Seth Jones. My conversation with Poile touches on that progress, and where to take it from here:
Preds Head Coach Peter Laviolette:
Going back to the day he was hired, Nashville Head Coach Peter Laviolette made clear the way he wanted his team to play. Without question, he accomplished his goal and found a very good level of success in his first season. The team played aggressively, increased the amount of goals scored (16 more than last year) and (just as importantly) cut down on the number of goals allowed (31 less). During this conversation, we cover the value gained by the young players in the tough playoff series versus the Chicago Blackhawks (largely without key leaders Mike Fisher and Shea Weber), reflect on the team's peak as the No. 1 team in the League through 60 games and analyze why the team leveled off down the stretch.
Consider the development of a player. While we all want instant results, it often takes time. Ellis was drafted in 2009 in the first round. The question from the start, not surprisingly, was his size. By 2012 at age 21, he had made it to the Predators lineup, providing some offense and getting a taste of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Yet there were still doubters on what true impact he could make.
As late as the midpoint of last season as he turned 23, Ellis was still at times a healthy scratch in the lineup. Down the stretch, however, his role increased and his play picked up, finishing with 27 points in 80 games, including 10 points in the last 18 contests.
The team made a five-year commitment to Ellis as this season began at an annual cap hit of $2.5 million, a bold move that has paid off thus far, and now looks like a bargain going forward. Ellis hit a new level, putting up 27 points in just 58 games and playing extremely important minutes. He carried that over with an outstanding playoff series against the Blackhawks, pitching in three points and posting a plus-4 rating. He was on the ice for 10 Predators goals during the series, and only on the ice for two that the team allowed against Chicago.
At age 24, he has now become a core player as he enters into his prime. Here is our chat with him on Sports Night:
Voice of the Predators Pete Weber:
This is a great discussion as Pete joined Brent and I for a segment. If you like good hockey talk, this is awesome stuff on many subjects:
Look for lots of blog posts during the offseason as we continue to analyze the team moving forward. There will be lots to discuss!
And make sure to tune into Sports Night weeknights from 3-6 p.m. (CT) on 102.5 The Game. When there is a hockey story, we will be there to cover it thoroughly.