By Amanda DiPaolo
Just before the puck dropped on Nashville’s season, the Predators organization announced they had traded defenseman Ryan Parent and forward Jonas Andersson for defenseman Shane O’Brien. News of the trade was originally a surprise. Parent was a first round draft pick of Nashville’s, lost in the Peter Forsberg trade. The Predators regained the rights to Parent from the Philadelphia Flyers for the rights to negotiate with Dan Hamhuis. Nashville subsequently signed Parent to a two-year deal.
O’Brien, set to make $1.6 million this year, resigned with the Canucks on July 12th as a restricted free agent. But on October 2, Vancouver put O’Brien on waivers. So you can’t blame the 27 year old for being a little happy about his new opportunity in Nashville as a result of being traded just three days after being placed on waivers.
“I was really excited obviously,” O’Brien said about hearing he had been traded. “I thought it was time for a change in Vancouver. I enjoyed my time there but when I got the call and was told I was coming here I couldn’t be more excited. Every time I come to this city on the road it’s always a good time,” O’Brien said with genuine excitement the morning of his first game as a Nashville Predator.
The trade to Nashville was about more than just leaving an organization where it wasn’t working out for his career. “They have a great team here. Anytime you go to a team with 100 points, it’s a good opportunity.” And O’Brien has felt welcome since he arrived. “All the guys have been great. Everyone has gone out of their way to make you feel a part of the team right away. These are little things that make teams good.” The Tennessean reported one of those little things the Predators did to make O’Brien feel welcome. By time he arrived to Nashville’s dressing room, his picture was already on top of his locker—in a Nashville jersey.
O’Brien was candid with the Vancouver Sun when word of the trade had been released. He admitted mistakes had been made as a Canuck, including being late for practice after a night out, but O’Brien doesn’t believe head coach Alan Vigneault gave him a fair shot at having a substantial role with the Canucks, even when his play was particularly strong.
As for O’Brien’s role with Nashville, his goal for this season is a simple one. “I’m hoping to come in and help them win games any way I can.”
O’Brien will necessarily have to take less penalty minutes. Had O’Brien been with Nashville last year, his 79 minutes in the box would have lead all Predators by 21 points. Wade Belak lead Nashville with 58 penalty minutes. Nashville was first in the league for taking the least amount of penalties, averaging 8.7 per game.
O’Brien’s first game for Nashville was Saturday night’s season, and home, opener against the Anaheim Ducks. In 14:39 minutes of ice time, O’Brien was plus one, had one shot on goal, and played 1:34 minutes short-handed where he cleared the puck out of Nashville’s zone more than once. The 6’3, 230 pound defenseman played a disciplined game against a very undisciplined team, taking no penalties. But don’t think O’Brien won’t stick up for his teammates when required. Before the game, O’Brien acknowledged Anaheim’s style of play and added that “if they want to run around we’ll be there to hit them right back.”
But O’Brien just wants to win. “Points are so important in the Western Conference that every night you go out there you need to get as many points as you can.”
Trotz liked what he saw from the newest Predator. “I really liked Shane’s game, he kept it simple and smart. He was heavy in front of the net, pushing people away, and he was strong on the boards. He only skated once this week in Vancouver and he skated once with us and we put him in the game and he did real well.”
O’Brien played in 65 games last year for the Canucks. He registered 8 points, 2 goals and 6 assists. O’Brien was in the Vancouver lineup for all 12 Canucks post-season games where he had 1 goal and 2 assists, with a whopping 25 minutes in penalties. O’Brien has played in 225 NHL games coming into the 2010-11 season with Vancouver, Anaheim, and Tampa Bay. The Port Hope, Ontario native has 55 points registering 8 goals and adding 47 assists, and 605 penalty minutes.
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