Saturday, August 06, 2005

Raining on My Own Parade

Now that a day has passed, and the shock of the Preds signing a name player has worn off, it's time for a reality check. I'm still very happy, but I started to have second thoughts as soon as I realized what my joy resembled - my feelings after the Griffey trade. Yes, Kariya was a great player for Anaheim. But, his last year with Colorado wasn't that great. He was injured, and his point production dropped. Can he return to form after a year layoff? I'm not so sure. And we've put a lot of stock in him. If he's a bust, then we've got a major problem on our hands.

When tickets go on sale in September, there is going to be a strong showing. Not only will fans remember the thrill of the playoff appearance two years ago, they'll also realize that the off-season moves give us a chance. The actual players will be putting a lot of their hopes into Kariya, just like the fans will. If he fails to perform, the club will struggle out of the gate, and ticket sales for the second half of the season would drop significantly. And that would continue into the next year, severely limiting the budget for new players.

If the salary cap is $39 million, and we expect Nashville to be in the lower range of teams on salary, $4.5 million per year is a significant chunk. He could hamstring the team for the next two years. Fortunately it's only a two-year agreement, meaning that it will not be a problem long-term... but with the NHL, the next two years are paramount. If the Preds fall off and start losing again, we could lose the franchise. We're already the whipping boy for people bemoaning over-expansion into non-traditional markets, and many would be calling for our heads.

But, the major point is this. The Predators are a viable team now. We can be a legitimate playoff contender year after year if we make the right moves. We may have bought an overpriced, aging former superstar here, but there is still an upside that simply wasn't there before. And, if Kariya's a bust, we hopefully can sign someone new in two years. That is, unless attendance drops horribly, and we can't afford it. But, without Kariya, we would be facing attendance issues anyhow, so the signing gives me playoff and financial hope that I wouldn't have otherwise.

One last point. I listened to plenty of sports talk yesterday. All Titans talk was stopped for the Predators, which reflects the interest that I've heard from most of my sports fan friends. Everyone called in to comment, from the owner Leipold, head coach Trotz, and Captain Johnson. They all spoke about the class that Kariya has, and how he's a great team player. That's very important in conservative Nashville. Kariya himself called in, and seemed like a good guy. I like that, simple as it was. A guy I can cheer for.

Interesting comments from Jason, of course, and a Tom Benjamin thinks it is a great signing for Nashville.


At 8/06/2005 05:56:00 PM, Blogger Chris said...

There are so many uncertainties to almost every player this year, even the ones who got some foreign ice time.

I'm one of those who is wary of guys who were hurt and how that affects their play. But Kariya is a workhorse and claims he's healthy, and in this organization, that seems to bode well. This isn't Eric Lindros, who I think would truly have been a bust here. I just imagine the kinds of creative things this team could do with Kariya.

I also don't think there are many complacent players on this team--people who relax and wait for the star to do something. When Sullivan came in, he exploded, but all the other guys blossomed, too. Remember, there are a lot of young guys wanting to prove their worth. And with a guy like Trotz, who I think is one of the better people coaches around, this should be good.

At 8/07/2005 03:39:00 PM, Blogger Mike said...

Good points. You're probably right about the complacent player thing - it's just that it could happen, and on some teams it could be bad.

I was so glad to hear the owner say that Lindros is "not on the radar screen." Thank goodness.


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