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Predators Eulogy (Unabridged)

As is tradition, we were chosen to eulogize a departed team from the NHL post season. This year the distinction fell to the Nashville Predators, and Puck Daddy is currently running a version of it live on their site. Below is the director’s cut, with the assist from Andrew Cieslak. Enjoy. 

We have to say it’s kind of an amazing feat that we’ve been able to arrive here to toss dirt on the ‘14-’15 Predators. Considering the armed guards, barbed wire, screaming eel-filled moats, concrete walls, and dogs with bees in their mouths and when they barked they shot bees at us that Nashville put in place to keep us out, one has to wonder if it’s all worth it. Then we remember the sight of Mike Ribeiro dragging his slimy ass off the ice after shaking hands (or in his case, tentacle) and we have to say yes, yes it is.

Nashville, you’ve taught us a lot of things over the years – maybe none more important than you can draw a mob of idiots to a park by building something that doesn’t really make sense in context like a replica Parthenon (Hello, giant bean). But we really had no idea you had such an inferiority complex.

First, an endless slew of hometown editorials coupled with ticket office policies that make getting a mortgage seem simple. Second, the Predators decided to change the entire way the national anthem is presented just to keep Chicago fans from yelling while Tractor Johnny or Larry the Cable Guy sings the anthem like on most other nights. Third, they trot out the mayor to espouse civic pride and shame all the visitors who simply came to scream themselves hoarse, drink gallons of whiskey, and dispose of their cold, hard cash in the Music City. Our mayor just tells us to do things that are anatomically impossible. All the ticket fiasco really did was show the city’s and the organization’s collective ass, proving it to be nothing more than a hilljack outpost; just Branson, Missouri (Not to be confused with Bronson) with bigger names on the Broadway marquees.

We’ll never get over having seen the mayor of Nashville, “Hot” Karl Dean, standing on the ice in an oversized, never-worn Predators jersey talkin’ Christian values and good ol’ country fried patriotism. “Let’s sing the song together as one!” Yeah you’re not fooling anyone, you dumb bastard. Everyone knows a real mayor would be too busy laundering money or defrauding investors to stand up at some sporting event pleading for some kind of prayer circle to stop the red clad demons from the north from having too much fun in his piss-stained Garden of Eden. He even claimed it would be, “an affront to God” if Hawks fans were to cheer while the person next to them sang the anthem, as if a God worried about the pregame antics of hockey fans was one worth worshipping. “Well I don’t care about mass murder in the Middle East or disease or poverty, but the dude with the Italian beef stain on his knockoff Kane jersey cheering while Sausage Gravy Jill belts her heart out really rubs my rhubarb!”

It became quite the hobby of Preds fans on social media to point out the arrest records for the admittedly boorish behavior of travelling Hawks fans. But that hobby has become so time consuming that clearly they have neglected to keep tabs on their own kids, with a local high school tabulating 134 arrests in the past 8 months. Perhaps once these kids get out of school they’ll be able to parlay their hourly wage from the local Jiffy Lube into Preds season tickets, priced so low they’re practically being given away, and finally give the Hawks a legitimate run for their money at something.

But the stupid off the ice doesn’t end there.

Led by a general manager David Poile, who has never done less to build a winner and yet received more love and admiration this side of Jim Nill, the Predators said this year was the year things would change. And then he went out and signed Olli Jokinen and Derek Roy. He’s given credit for parlaying Martin Erat into Filip Forsberg, but when any trade is at the expense of the criminally underreported idiocy of George McPhee, how many real accolades can be given? Combine this with picking Dustin Brown for the Olympic team, and one has to wonder if they aren’t sprinkling his pork shoulder with lead paint down there in Smashville.

It was out with the “stab your eyes out with a pencil” style of boring hockey incorporated by the neckless Barry Trotz and in with the back-stabbing, passive aggressive Peter Laviolette. (Don’t worry Preds fans, we’re sure this time Peter Laviolette is really in it for the long haul and his team won’t stage a coup d’etat after a season and a half.)

Because an up-tempo style of hockey was going to magically transform Paul Gaustad from a one-dimensional turd into a high flying center worth trading a 1st round draft pick for. How does one win so many faceoffs and get this skulled possession-wise without actually stopping to vomit up stomach acids every shift? Gaustad somehow figured out a way.

Ah, but the Predators have more than just Gaustad to look to for offense, you see.

They also have Viktor Stalberg signed at $4 million per. The same Viktor Stalberg, who has never scored more than 12 goals in a NHL season when he wasn’t playing on a line with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. The same Viktor Stalberg who played nearly as many games for the Milwaukee Admirals as the Nashville Predators this year.

And we can’t forget the lifeblood of a team that never fails to provide greatness in the regular season – old Shit Hip (or the artist formerly known as Pekka Rinne). Shit Hip, much like his general manager, has acquired the innate ability to win over the minds of “hockey” people despite never doing anything much of substance in his career.

Hey, remember that time in 2010 Shit Hip carried his team on his back and led an upset against the heavily favored Chicago Blackhawks? Yeah, us too (thanks Martin Erat. Never tire of that gift).

Or how about in 2012 when Shit Hip led the Predators past the Arizona Coyotes and into the Western Conference Final for the first time in franchise history?

It’s usually a good thing when a goalie makes saves while looking more like an octopus trying to put out a fire on his face, right? Sounds like a Vezina Trophy winner to us. Rinne was able to manage to get outplayed by two different goalies this series, which is impressive. Hey Pekka-bale-of-cotton, Duncan Keith is over here.

But even general managers as great as David Poile look to maximize their roster and so this summer, Poile buckled down and signed noted scumbag Mike Ribeiro.

Mike Ribeiro, who despite attending high school for just one semester, was still voted by his peers as most likely to get a spiderweb neck tattoo.

What a great redemption story he’s been. He’s clearly made several strides in both his on and off ice lives to now be, well, still Mike Ribeiro. From the early days of his career of being an unrepentant diver and being arrested for assaulting his wife in public, to hitting bottom so hard that even the offensively starved Coyotes have no time for his garbage, Ribeiro was just waiting for the kind souls of Nashville to welcome him in with open arms.

And repay them he did, with a solid season that he could really only muster as his professional career flashed before his eyes in true mercenary fashion, only to be a complete non factor when the games began to matter in April. At least Mickey Ribs will now have the money to pay out the sexual assault lawsuit brought against him a couple of months ago. And at 35 with a track record of abject dirtball behavior, who better than the supremely pious Nashville faithful to go to bat for him as someone who has just made some mistakes. Because nothing shows the quality of an organization and fandom like claiming that an adult with an arrest record deserves the benefit of the doubt when he can help your team, but fans even from a zip code you don’t like want to spend money in your building, they need to be pre-emptively kept out at literally all costs. Remember, making noise during a song is an affront to God, Country, and apple pie, but having a repeat offender towards women on the roster is all right as long as it helps in the standings. And the Predators couldn’t even get that part of it right. If they were going to throw good taste to the wind for the sake of improving the team, they could have done a hell of a lot better than Mike Ribeiro’s annual spring act of dives, cheap shots, and absence on the scoresheet.

This is a guy that just needs an eighth chance, and yellow clad Predators fans (all 15 of them) were more than happy to give it to him. After all, south of  I-80, roughing up the old lady and strong arming the nanny are just part and parcel of what makes a real Southern Man. That and not-all-that latent religious flavored bigotry.

And on that note, Mike Ribeiro doesn’t exactly have the market cornered on centers who are awful people for the Predators. Mike Fisher, Mr. Carrie Underwood, truly provides the depth down the middle that championship teams are looking for. It’s always fun when Canadians take a vested interest in American politics, but Fisher took it to the next level with the degree of excitement he took in the SCOTUS vs Hobby Lobby ruling. Because even though he doesn’t pay American taxes on his work visa, his wife does (well probably not, she’s rich after all), and the almighty would not approve of a pittance of their collective fortune go towards the birth control of American women, however indirectly. And nothing exhibits the convictions of a self-proclaimed devout man like a deleted tweet. Still, you have to respect Fisher for being able to be a productive NHL-er when he can’t possibly ever get any sleep, as the nuclear glow from his wife’s spray-tan must make for a constant, Alaska-in-the-summer daylight in his house. Insomnia 2: No Rest Even on Sunday will be about that household.

But the Preds weren’t done there of course. Figuring that the only thing between them and a playoff breakthrough was getting more playoff stupid, Poile huffed his liquid paper soaked rag and traded for James Neal. And Southern hospitality was almost, almost just what Neal needed to avoid turning into a Lethal Weapon villain in the postseason for the 75th season running. He lasted five games, but there he was in Game 6 taking a moronic cross checking penalty far enough away from the puck that he almost ended up being the first person to attend a White Sox game this season to let the Hawks back into it. Some men you just can’t reach.

Remember, this is an organization so bereft of actual dynamism that the Cult of Personality that is the charismatic Ryan Suter couldn’t wait to leave. And when he did so, he left behind his partner and the Predators caveman of a captain, Shea Weber. Who also could not wait to leave. While offer sheets are a rarity in the league because collusion totally does not in any way exist, remember that a player has to actually sign one for his original team to have the opportunity to match it. And Shea Weber thought it over long and hard, and decided he would have rather played in the scrapple scented armpit that is the city of Philadelphia, in front of fans who throw batteries at Santa and worship a fictional boxer because he’s white as opposed to their real life hometown heavyweight champ who was black. Then again, that aspect of it would have probably been comforting coming from Nashville.

And Seth Jones… actually, we have nothing bad to say about Seth Jones, who will be a force for Nashville until the Flyers toss a majority stake of Comcast at his feet and he goes running for the exit.

Maybe next year to prevent a 2nd half collapse and 1st round exit (unless they miraculously draw St. Louis), the Predators PR team can roll the corpse of Johnny Cash out on to the ice and the locals can perform some kind of moonshine-fueled ritual meant to rouse him from his eternal slumber. Or at least transfer his hip into Rinne.

Or maybe Peyton Manning (GO VOLS) can stand at one end of the ice and toss rolled-up Papa John’s pizzas into Kenny Chesney’s gaping maw as he tries to sing some of his hit songs like “Maw Got Her Foot Stuck In The Dang Toilet Again” or “A Full Set O’ Teeth Don’t Mean Nothin’ To A Country Boy Like Me”.

But as for the 2014-2015 version of the Nashville Predators, as the late great Dolly Parton once said, “Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone.” We look forward to seeing how you’ll try and keep “the red” out next season. Maybe buy your own tickets?

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