A letter to myself: Scott Hartnell tells his rookie self to keep his head up – literally

Scott Hartnell (Nhan Chu/Allsport)

(For our Rookie Issue earlier this season, we ask Blue Jackets veteran and NHL fan favorite Scott Hartnell to provide some advice to himself 15 years ago when he entered the league as an 18-year-old rookie with the Nashville Predators. This is what he had to say…)

Hey Buddy:

Wow, that was some hit, wasn’t it? You’ll probably never skate through the neutral zone with your head down when Darren Langdon is on the ice again, right? In case you’re wondering where you are at the moment, you’re in Raleigh, N.C. Actually, you’re in an ambulance and, yeah, that’s your dad riding with you. Way to screw up the Dads’ Trip there, pal. Read more

10 off-season acquisitions helping their teams get into the playoffs

(Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

There has been no personnel move during this season, at or before the trade deadline, that has had as much impact, immediate or otherwise, as the Minnesota Wild scoring Devan Dubnyk from the Arizona Coyotes.

Dubnyk, who has appeared in every single game since coming to Minnesota, has taken the Wild from a team on the brink of losing their season to the hottest team in hockey. Bringing in Dubnyk could make Minnesota GM Chuck Fletcher the GM of the Year at the end of the season.

However, most roster constructing is done during the summer as teams look to rebuild or supplement existing pieces in their chase for the Stanley Cup. As such, these are the 10 off-season acquisitions, either through trade or free agency, that are paying off as teams enter the stretch run and battle for playoff position.

Honorable mention goes to the coaching tandem of Barry Trotz and Mitch Korn, who have made the Washington Capitals a team to be feared come the postseason and turned Braden Holtby into a brilliant backstopper. Read more

Bottom feeders refuse to tank by playing hard…and badly

Red Wings celebration (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)

On the night the Edmonton Oilers were officially eliminated from the playoff race for the ninth straight season, the Connor McDavid Sweepstakes had the potential for an all-out Tank-a-thon. But the more you watch these bottom feeders play, the more you realize they’re not losing on purpose to get a chance at a generational talent.

They’re just really, really bad hockey teams.

Say what you will about the moves the power brokers of the Buffalo Sabres, Arizona Coyotes, Edmonton Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs have made off the ice, but it’s crystal clear that those who have a say on what happens on the 200-by-85 playing surface will have nothing to do with the stink of losing on purpose. Read more

Why No. 1 playoff seeds deserve all games at home in Round 1

Ronnie Shuker
460996762-PredsKings

The Nashville Predators have been one of the NHL’s biggest surprises this season, right alongside the New York Islanders. They’ve led the Central Division most of the way and have been going back-and-forth with the Anaheim Ducks for first in the Western Conference.

For all their hard work, however, the Predators could conceivably end up as the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference and face the Los Angeles Kings as the No. 8 seed.

That’s right, in the NHL, the reward for finishing first in your conference could be the right to play the defending Stanley Cup champions in the first round.

Would anyone be surprised if the Kings “upset” the Predators in a seven-game series?

Read more

Meet the “very, very smart” man who will win this year’s Calder Trophy

Ken Campbell
Filip Forsberg (John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)

At Christmastime, we North Americans have our egg nog. Nordic countries have their glogg (pronounced “gloog,” with a heavy accent on the ‘oo’). You could say that in Sweden they love to glug their glogg, a sweet, high-octane mulled wine that is served warm so as to raise the temperature of the mouth and stomach, thereby pushing the blood to the skin to create an all-round glow, warming the body and the soul from the inside out. Swedes like to spend all Christmas Day sitting around drinking glogg and watching Donald Duck cartoons.

Anyway, it was only a couple sleeps before Christmas and the Presidents’ Trophy-contending Nashville Predators found themselves with a rare day off. Now, Filip Forsberg and Mattias Ekholm could have spent their off-day concocting a brew of wine, brandy, cardamom, orange peels and cinnamon sticks themselves. Yeah, that’s what a couple of guys in their 20s could have done. But that wouldn’t have been nearly as much fun as taking a road trip to Ikea to pick up some glogg themselves.

The only problem is Nashville got itself an NHL team 16 years ago, but sadly still has no Ikea store. Atlanta, on the other hand, lost its team, but can take solace in the fact its residents can buy reasonably priced particle board furniture with names like ‘Kottebo’ and ‘Riffla’ that they have to assemble themselves to their hearts’ content. So it was on this December day when Forsberg and Ekholm decided to jump into Ekholm’s 2015 Audi SQ5 SUV and take the I-24 past Chattanooga to the I-75 into Atlanta, which accounts for a drive of about three-and-a-half hours. Then they got their brew and a little taste of home at the local Ikea outlet and promptly turned around and drove back. Read more

Why there’s no reason to worry about the Nashville Predators

Jared Clinton
Shea Weber (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

For nearly the entire season, the Nashville Predators have been the class of the Central Division. They’ve paced the race for the division title on strong defense, stronger goaltending and offensive spark. But their five-game losing streak has some fans worried.

Rest easy, though, Predators faithful. Not much has changed in Nashville aside from the results, and over an 82-game season, sometimes it’s more about the process than anything. And when it comes to process there are few teams that can hang with the Predators.

While GM David Poile obviously isn’t pleased with dropping five games in a row, even he knows that Nashville is bound for better days. Read more

Predators center Mike Ribeiro sued for alleged sexual assault of former nanny

Adam Proteau
Nashville Predators' Mike Ribeiro

As first reported by TMZ.com Wednesday, Nashville Predators center Mike Ribeiro is being sued for more than $1 million in damages by a nanny he and his wife employed in Texas for an alleged sexual assault and for threats made against her in 2012.

Full details of the lawsuit were not immediately released, but Larry Friedman, the attorney for the woman behind the lawsuit, told The Associated Press Thursday she’d been sexually assaulted by Ribeiro shortly after graduating from high school and when Ribeiro had been playing for the Dallas Stars. The young woman said she didn’t alert the authorities because she was “terrified”. And Ribeiro’s wife, Tamara, is alleged in the suit to have “made inappropriate comments and/or threats” to her. Read more

Taylor Beck’s no-look pass from his knees is assist of the year

Jared Clinton
Taylor Beck (Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

With all the great setup men in the league today – names such as Nicklas Backstrom, Henrik Sedin and Joe Thornton – who would have figured it would be Nashville’s Taylor Beck that made the best pass we’ll see all season?

Late in Monday’s game between the Predators and Rangers, after a New York clearing attempt was held in at the blueline, the puck skipped down to Beck. When he scooped up the puck, he lost his footing and, from his knees, made a backhanded, no-look pass that landed perfectly on the tape of Matt Cullen for a one-time goal. It’s a thing of beauty: Read more