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Broadcaster Blog: The Impact of Ryan Ellis

Willy Daunic Writes on the Difference Ryan Ellis Makes in the Predators Lineup

by Willy Daunic @WillyD1025 / Television Play-By-Play

The Predators were already a very good team when the calendar turned to 2018. After a 5-5-2 start, Nashville won 16 of the next 20 to move up the ladder in the NHL standings. But since defenseman Ryan Ellis returned to the lineup on Jan. 2, there has been a marked improvement.

It would have been easy to predict that Ellis would eventually make his usual impact. What is notable, however, is that he might be on his way to his best prorated season. And now that Nashville has their full complement of "four aces" available on the blueline (with fellow star defensemen Roman Josi, P.K. Subban and Mattias Ekholm), the difference in the team stats is noticeable.

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Broadcaster Blog: The Winningest GM in NHL History

The Voice of the Predators Writes on the GM he's Worked with for 20 Years in Nashville

by Pete Weber @PeteWeberSports / Voice of the Predators

If you are a hockey fan, there's a good chance you remember Herb Brooks's (played by Kurt Russell) speech from the movie "Miracle." He told the members of his 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team: "you were born to be hockey players, everyone of you!"

I can't help feeling that David Poile was born to be a general manager. David's father was Norman "Bud" Poile, who played for five NHL teams, including the 1947 Stanley Cup Champion Toronto Maple Leafs. Bud was playing his last NHL season when David was born, splitting the 1949-50 season between the New York Rangers and the Boston Bruins.

David grew up in hockey's minor leagues with his family. Bud played a few more years in the minor leagues, but more importantly, began his move into coaching and management. Bud coached the Edmonton Flyers for nine seasons, winning three Western Hockey League championships. He then moved onto San Francisco, where he won two more titles in four seasons with that Western League franchise.

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Broadcaster Blog: The Preds and Red Wings, Nashville's First Rivalry

As Nashville Prepares for Two Meetings Against Detroit, Pete Weber Looks Back at the Old Rivalry Between the Clubs

by Pete Weber @PeteWeberSports / Voice of the Predators

I am putting myself on the record here. I really miss the frequent meetings between the Nashville Predators and the Detroit Red Wings that we had over the course of the Preds' first 14 seasons.

Nashville and Detroit were members of the same division for a decade and a half, so they played as many as eight regular-season (not to mention preseason and playoff) games during a single campaign. At the start, the Predators were decided underdogs. The Red Wings were two-time defending Stanley Cup champions when the Predators first took the ice. In other words, there were quite a few teams that didn't fare well against them.

The powerful Red Wings, with a $75 million payroll (in those days there wasn't a salary cap or floor) versus the $12 million for the Predators. The Red Wings power-play unit alone surpassed the Nashville payroll!

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Broadcaster Blog: Analyzing Fisher's Return

Willy Daunic Poses Key Questions on the Return of Mike Fisher and What it Means for the Preds

by Willy Daunic @WillyD1025 / Television Play-By-Play

What a lightning bolt. As big as the news was back in 2011 when Mike Fisher was traded to the Nashville Predators, Wednesday's announcement that he would come out of retirement and join the team for the stretch run was even bigger. That is a tribute both to his impact on the franchise and to the evolution of Smashville to new heights since that day.

In 2011, the infamous headline was "Carrie Underwood's Husband Traded to Preds." At the time, only the seasoned hockey fans knew that he was an impact player. But even those of us who knew about the solid career numbers he had posted in Ottawa had no idea the full effect he would have on the franchise and the community. Back then, Nashville knew about Underwood (who has been a fantastic catalyst for the team in her own way). Now, they know about Fisher. He is flat out special.

General manager David Poile and head coach Peter Laviolette know that as well. Which is why it was fascinating to hear them (along with Fisher himself) articulate the process of the former captain's decision to return at the press conference. Poile joined Flagship Station 102.5 The Game afterward for more insight.

I invite you to listen to the segment in its entirety. But while you do, here are some key things to ponder:

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Broadcaster Blog: Fisher Joins Elite Club with Comeback

Pete Weber Looks Back at Other Sports Stars to Come Out of Retirement

by Pete Weber @PeteWeberSports / Voice of the Predators

I had quite the surprise walking into Bridgestone Arena Wednesday morning: a press conference was scheduled to announce the return of Mike Fisher as an active player with the Predators! That pleasant surprise made many of us think of other retirements that were cut short by athletes in several sports.

There have been a variety of boxing comebacks, most notably by Muhammed Ali, but also including George Foreman (not just his grills), Floyd Mayweather, and others.

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Broadcaster Blog: NHL All-Star Memories

Voice of the Preds Pete Weber Recalls Some of His Top NHL All-Star Memories

by Pete Weber @PeteWeberSports / Voice of the Predators

It feels like this season has really moved along, and now we are faced with another NHL All-Star Game.

My first in-person experience at an NHL All-Star Game was at the Aud in Buffalo on Jan. 24, 1978. Back then, the game was not as wide-open back as it is now, as you can hear in the reports I filed afterward for WEBR NewsRadio 970:

I had to wait three years and a cross-country move for my next experience: 1981 in Los Angeles. I was on the broadcast with recently-retired, Hall-of-Fame announcer Bob Miller at the Forum. Here is the opening of that game, complete with player introductions, including current Predators Associate Coach Kevin McCarthy - an All-Star representing the Vancouver Canucks:

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Audio: Preds GM David Poile on Second Half Outlook

Willy Daunic Talks David Poile's Thoughts on the Second Half of Nashville's Season

by Willy Daunic @WillyD1025 / Television Play-By-Play

The Nashville Predators have just crossed the halfway point of the regular season. The defending Western Conference Champions have 58 points in their first 43 games - currently among the top contenders in the West. Some notable numbers regarding the remaining schedule:

Home Heavy:

Of Nashville's 39 games, 21 are at home, where the Predators have gone 14-4-2 thus far. Six of the next seven are at Bridgestone Arena.

Strength of Schedule:

Last season, the Predators made a remarkable second-half run after an inconsistent first three months. They did this despite a very difficult schedule (sixth-toughest in terms of opponents' point percentage) following the All-Star Break. It also included a whirlwind 26 games over the final 50 days [as I documented in a blog last year].

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As We Turn the Calendar from 2017...

Pete Weber Looks Back at the Year That Was

by Pete Weber @PeteWeberSports / Voice of the Predators

It's retrospective time; the calendar tells us so. I have no difficulty reflecting on the high points of 2017. How could it be anything but "the run?"

The Nashville Predators' run to the Stanley Cup Final was without question one of the highlights of my professional life. I've covered four Super Bowls (remember the ESPN 30-for-30, "The Four Falls of Buffalo?"), was on hand for the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo and when a rookie guard-forward-post-man named Magic Johnson helped the Lakers win the 1980 NBA title. So, I have been around for some high-level sporting events. The emotion of that run to the 2017 Cup Final sits at the top of my list.

Remember the summer of 2007 and how close the Predators were to being moved out of the city? Hard for those of us working for the team at the time to forget. We were preparing our homes for sale. The copiers were pumping out resumes at a record rate. Those who could were at least seriously seeking other jobs.

Who would have thought, at that time, that 10 years later things could be so different?

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Preds Provided Christmas Magic During Inaugural Season

Pete Weber Recalls Pair of Holiday Victories to Make Christmas Happy for Preds Fans

by Pete Weber @PeteWeberSports / Voice of the Predators

As we get closer to the holidays, with all the extra activities that accompany them, memories begin streaming back.

In the history of the Nashville Predators, that is very true, especially during their first season. The schedule provided some real challenges to the expansion Preds. The opponent for the last game before Christmas was the defending Stanley Cup Champion Detroit Red Wings - and it was their first trip to Music City. The first game after Christmas, the Predators hosted the Stanley Cup finalist Washington Capitals.

The Predators had just returned home from a West Coast trip to Anaheim, San Jose and Vancouver. Tomas Vokoun took over in net for Mike Dunham in the Vancouver game after Dunham exited due to injury. The Predators picked up their first win of the trip in that game, thanks to two-goal nights by Sergei Krivokrasov and Sebastien Bordeleau. Vokoun would get the next two starts.

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Patience with Aberg Beginning to Pay Off for Preds

Willy Daunic Explains Why Preds Are Wise to Give Pontus Aberg Plenty of Chances

by Willy Daunic @WillyD1025 / Television Play-By-Play

Not long ago, Predators General Manager David Poile joined Darren McFarland and I on the Preds flagship radio station, 102.5 The Game, for an assessment of the first quarter of the season.

A question came up about Pontus Aberg, who had struggled out of the gate and looked nothing like the skilled player that had made significant contributions late in Nashville's postseason run in the spring. He had amassed just two assists in his first 15 games played, and was often a healthy scratch.

Poile, while making no excuses for Aberg's play, stressed the importance of patience. He told the story of Rich Peverley, a player who once was at a similar crossroads in his career.

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