Feb 26, 2012; Dallas, TX, USA; Vancouver Canucks center Ryan Kesler (17) waits for play to resume against the Dallas Stars during the game at the American Airlines Center. The Stars defeated the Canucks 3-2 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-US PRESSWIRE

Off-Day Banter: Top Five Villains for Predfans.

We all have a foil to our plan in life. Sometimes it’s people. Sometimes it’s a situation, or time, or in the case of some of my adult life up until a year ago- calories. Villains are everywhere. The NHL rinks are no exception. When you champion your team as heroes, as all hockey fans do, you brand others as villains.

Any movie fan (especially those of the Disney sort) know that the villain is in control of the situation up until the last 10 minutes of the movie, not including the credits. While we’re still in the middle of the story arc, let’s take a look at the current SOB’s that won’t be getting a Christmas card from the guys at 501 Broadway.

This list is simply opinion. How can you weigh the sinister acts performed by the individuals in question without emotion weighing in? You simply cannot. These men have crossed into sworn enemy territory, and are far more dangerous than the likes of the Washington Generals, the Memphis Tigers football team , or the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Without further delay, behold… the list of villains.

Feb. 23, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Red Wings right wing Todd Bertuzzi (44) during the game against the Vancouver Canucks at Joe Louis Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE

#5

TODD BERTUZZI

Status – still at large
Currently – playing in Detroit
Crimes – thuggery, shootout goals,
being a filthy Red Wing

Who the hell likes Todd Bertuzzi? Let’s state the obvious- he’s a good player. Otherwise, he wouldn’t be in Detroit, playing in the NHL, etc. Doesn’t mean we have to like him, or forgive him for ending a career. Yes, I’m referring to the Steve Moore incident. Since then, he’s cleaned up his act… and played good hockey. In fact, too good. The jerk is downright lethal on breakaways.

If he sucked at hockey, we wouldn’t hate this guy to much. We don’t hate Trevor Gillies so much, and he’s a big of a thug as there is in the league. So Bertuzzi being on the list is a testament to his game, as well as an indictment of how bad his action was years ago that fans still hold a grudge.

Feb 10, 2012; San Jose, CA, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Marian Hossa (81) warms up before the game against the San Jose Sharks at HP Pavilion. San Jose defeated Chicago 5-3. Mandatory Credit: Jason O. Watson-US PRESSWIRE

#4

MARIAN HOSSA

Status – still at large
Currently – playing in Chicago
Crimes – being a mercenary, “Game 5″

If you ask a Nashville fan about “Game 5″, their heart will sink. While Patrick Kane’s goal with mere second remaining took the game into overtime, Hossa’s name will be the one cursed following that atrocity. Hossa was the one who likely concussed Hamhuis against the boards after touching up for icing, only received a 5 minute major, and happened to be in the right spot for the game winner that swung the series 3-2 in favor of the ‘Hawks.

Hossa’s reputation as the mercenary stems from being on 3 different teams in the cup finals in 3 consecutive years; two short deals with contenders followed by a lifetime deal in Chicago. Locally, he’s a Pred-Killer. Hossa can go scoreless for 7 games, and go off in Nashville regardless of the rest of the team. He’s good. Too good, and just not likeable.

#3

RYAN KESLER

Status – still at large
Currently – trolling on the second line in Vancouver
Crimes – diving, being a wuss in the face of ANGRY SHEA

I am thoroughly convinced no one likes the Canucks outside of the province of British Columbia. Ryan Kesler proves this. He plays tough, very complete game, and is a solid two-way forward, and American. Sadly, like Patrick Kane, Ryan Miller, and our other Olympic hockey heroes, Ryan Kesler is an absolute heel.

Your video evidence, as if you needed it:

Weak. Couple that with you’re about to see with #2, and you’ll understand why all of American and half of Canada was cheering for Boston in the finals.  (The Luongo “Mighty Wind” didn’t help their American PR either)

When Kesler ran into Rinne in game six, Weber was in full lumberjack mode. He attempted to pick up Ryan by the top of his jersey, only for Kesler to turtle and cower (which caused Weber to earn a penalty). While I do feel better watching Weber land that late punch on Kesler in their 2009 fight again and again and again, it’s tough knowing these guys are on the top of the west again. We’ll run into them again, you just have that feeling. Only now, there’s a bit more size on watching over Rinne.
 

June 6, 2011; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Bruins left wing Milan Lucic (17) taunts Vancouver Canucks left wing Alex Burrows (top right) by trying to get Burrows to bite his fingers during the third period in game three of the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals at TD Garden. The Bruins won 8-1. Mandatory Credit: Michael Ivins-US PRESSWIRE

#2

ALEX BURROWS

Status – still at large
Currently – playing in Vancouver
Crimes – google “Alex Burrows”

There are two kinds of fans that like Alex Burrows. 1- Canuck fans who have accepted that their team, while very unlikeable, will do anything to win. 2- Infatuated girls who have never had a concussion who simply adore his precious face. While he is a damn handsome dude, Burrows is about the most dishonorable chap to wear pads nowadays.

In addition to last year’s episodes with the Bruins, Burrows’ liberal interpretation of the charging rule forever changed a player who Nashville had come to rely on, J.P. Dumont. Behold:

I should’ve warned you about the rare moment of leadership from Jason Arnott. I’m sorry for those who were taken by shock.

That hit was in December, 2008. In the three seasons prior, Dumont had 70 goals. From 2008 to 2011, Dumont only netted 43 goals, saw his minutes diminish and didn’t play near the style or capabilities he had shown before. In the 2007-2008 season, Dumont was as good as you could ask; 29-43-72. Was he concussed? Too late to make that argument, but he was never quite the same after that. He showed random flashes of being the scorer of years passed, but his productivity declined immensely. Last season, he finished with 10 goals. Three of them came in one game. He’s currently playing for Bern, and his game is about the same. It’s a sad story.

Most Preds fans will just jeer him because he’s the tool of all tools on the ice. Nothing wrong with that.

 

NOTABLE EXCEPTIONS

While there are many deserving on this list, it is only reserved for the absolute demons of the Music City hockey realm. However, here are few prominent ones that were left off. Some because they’re good, and some because we simply understand.

STEVE OTT
I do not have an issue with Ott. There are 29 teams that hate playing Steve Ott, and 30 teams that could use a Steve Ott on their roster. Plus, he doesn’t play stupid and dangerous like a Burrows or Matt Cooke (who would be on this list, but he hasn’t played against the Preds enough/done anything malicious towards our guys. Yet.)

RICK NASH
I pity Nash. He’s a GREAT player, and not a bad leader. He loves his team, city, and the chance he’s been given. Can’t hate him for that, just don’t like it when he scores against us. Oh well. At least there’s only one of him.

PAVEL DATSYUK
See above.

PAUL KARIYA
This was a tough one. Sure he did sign here, but left at the first sign of trouble to go where? St. Louis. Saving him from this list was the fact that the Blues didn’t do much with him on the roster, and he fell victim of a concussion. Not a fair way to go out. So, get well Paul.

CRAIG LEIPOLD
We can whine about all sorts of variables on why teams move. At the end of the day, it’s the decision of the owners. Leipold didn’t do anything “wrong”, unless you count entertaining the offer to move the team to Houston before the team ever took the ice a wrong thing. My gripe was him not having the stones to be an owner in a new market. Under Leipold, the marketing strategy was “BUY SEATS OR THE TEAM WILL MOVE”. Seriously. In the last two years, Tom Cigarran and his band of merry men have brought in a metric ton of corporate sponsors, so much that’s its almost painful, but hey look… REVENUE! Also adding to the awesomeness is a successful business mindset- improving your existing property increases the value as opposed to doing nothing, and hoping the tide lifts it. Leipold was in over his head, and immediately after ditching the Preds, he bought the Wild. While it is fun to watch the Preds kick up dust in the Wild’s face and finish ahead of them time after time, Leipold did not do the one unforgivable sin. Sell the team to Jim Balsillie.

DAN HAMHUIS
In 2010, Poile kept Hamhuis fully knowing that he wasn’t going to be retained. He was a solid #3 option, and also- his wife had just given birth. Class move for both parties. BUT THEN, Hamhuis was quoted speaking this to Canuck fans about us, the loyal legion who stuck through bad ownership, and no long-term prospects at winning: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qhvEAkFVW6A (54 seconds in, Hamhuis compares the few thousand fans there to a Nashville home game).

Lucky for him, Patric Hornqvist (and several others) have shown the league what Hamhuis is- a solid #3 defenseman.

 

 

…and finally…

 


#1

JIM BALSILLIE

Status – vanquished, but still alive
Currently – on the board at RIM, no longer chairman
Crimes – arrogance, among other things

(sadly, US Presswire didn’t have a shot of him complete with horns and pitchfork)

When you say the word “villain” in the NHL realm, how could it not be this guy? A man so arrogant to take deposits on season tickets in the decrepit Copps Coliseum for the Predators upcoming season, only to be thwarted. A deal rich with escape clauses was nearly signed by Leipold, which would’ve changed downtown Nashville forever. This is not an NBA market, and even so, how do you think the 15+ unwatchable teams are fairing this year at the box office?

There’s a very sweet girl named Sara who works at the bar I frequent on most gamedays. For the last two years, she only worked gamedays, and Saturdays (Fridays if there was no weekday game). With the team gone, and no 15-17 thousand people packing into downtown 50 nights a year, and most of those nights on the weekdays, downtown and the Broadway area would be a much different place. This is why folks in Cleveland lashed out a LeBron James; they knew their city leaned on him for the Cavaliers. Nashville is in a much better position than Cleveland is economically, but the effect would be mirrored. Thankfully for the Cavs, Kyrie Irving isn’t bad at his job, and they won’t be in the cellar for long. And thanks to Leipold not selling to this sinister CEO, Sara is now working full time. Hooray for her, and me.

That’s when I truly realized how bad things would be if the team did move. If you weren’t in Nashville before the arena was built, Broadway was not a nice place. It was a neon jungle of shady places, and less than friendly to tourists. Nowadays, I see kids running around by themselves to the ice cream shop. Not saying the Preds are responsible for that; we are. We showed up, and created a demand for something other than grungy dive bars and adult bookstores. Now we have “trendy” grungy bars, and gift shops. Booyah!

Jim believed he was doing the right this for his city. That’s not debatable, he wanted to make Hamilton the new Pittsburgh and not the old Pittsburgh (and he almost did this with Pittsburgh’s team). However, to people like me who think Nashville is the shining city by the river, the light of the new south, the next great southern city rich with culture, arts, and more bars than ever possibly necessary, Balsillie came across as the 21st century version of Mr. Potter from “It’s a Wonderful Life” trying to move a hockey team into the slums of Ontario.

BlackBerries suck anyways.

 

 

 

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