Simple question, but a fun one.
First off, no one outside of Nashville truly likes the Predators or the style of hockey they play. They like the story, and like Pekka and Shea; but if they were honest, they’d say “THEY’RE BORING” “TAKING HOCKEY BACK TO 1994″ “HAVEN’T THEY MOVED TO QUEBEC YET?”. (I love being the bad guy, so I embrace the first two remarks. The last one is just illogical, so it gets disregarded.) Predator hockey, like a good dark beer, is an acquired taste. Every game is a battle, and requires more determination for the team to win. Great for us, but painstaking for fans of flashy teams. TOUGH.
With the distaste now being fresh in the minds of the opponents, what team do YOU consider to be the biggest/best/most visible rival of
God’s team the Predators?
Let’s start with the usual suspects- the Central Division.
- Detroit- the barbarians of GM and UAW infiltrated the Middle Tennessee area in the mid-1990s, bringing their euchre and their salt & vinegar chips with them. This is evident especially at Preds/Wings games in Nashville, where red is commonly seen in the crowd making the arena even more of a college style atmosphere. Nashville has never finished above Detroit in the standings, even though having a good record against the Wings recently. As fans, we’ve always looked to them as the antagonist and big brother, with a complete opposite philosophy in team building and composition.
- Chicago- Up until 2 years ago, this would’ve been omitted from this article. But the fact is that it is about the same price for a Chicago fan to travel to Nashville, buy tickets, and get a room than it is to get good seats in the United Center. The most fun I’ve ever had at a hockey game during the regular season was last year’s first two matchups withe the Blackhawks in Nashville. (The third one sucked) Lots of black and red on Saturday nights, and the Hawk fans left downtrodden and still drunk from pre-game onto Broadway. The playoff series in 2010 definitely added fuel to the fire. That’s a subject I’d rather not talk about.
- St. Louis- The Godless Hordes of StL pioneered bringing the vuvuzela into modern hockey arenas. That alone should fuel any distaste you may foster. Even deeper than that, their fans laugh at us and point to the tradition of Blues hockey being far superior to that of ours. No kidding! 40 years is a lot longer than 12. It’s also more pathetic that they weren’t able to cash in on a Stanley Cup when there were only 12 teams, or any year they existed. Hell, they’ve only won the Campbell bowl twice, and haven’t made it out of the first round since 2001! They’ve become the Kansas City Royals of hockey. Yet this doesn’t stop the bus loads of Blues fans from rolling into Nashville, where the ushers confiscate the vuvuzelas.
- Columbus- While most Preds people don’t HATE the Jackets, they detest everyone in Blue and Gold. April 3, 2006: The last time the BJ’s won in Nashville. 0-17 since. Just like another team in Columbus, winning below the Ohio River is much easier said than done. The Preds have always built from within, by smart drafting and witty free agent signings. Columbus hasn’t done as well in the draft (GROSS UNDERSTATEMENT) and it’s been reflected on the ice. Fine example- Patric Hornqvist was the last overall pick in the 2005 draft. Columbus selected Gilbert Brule with the 3rd overall pick. Hornqvist plays top 6 minutes, and made the Swedish Olympic Team, Brule has been traded once to Edmonton (for Raffi Torres, mind you), and nearly again to the Kings.
There is some great potential for other teams, I’ve always thought of Dallas being a fine sparring partner. (Damn Texans let Davy Crockett get killed at the Alamo. REVENGE!!!) Minnesota would fun as well, given the current whereabouts of one Craig Leipold. Geography is key to any good sports rivalry, and the NFL has put this on display by shrinking the divisions to four teams to intensify their rivalries. No one can argue that the NFL’s new divisions have not been a roaring success- my head hurts less with Atlanta not being in the NFC West and Arizona no longer in the NFC East.