Nashville Predators GM David Poile addressed the media earlier today at Bridgestone Arena for the first time since a tentative agreement for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement was reached between the NHL and NHLPA and opened with a telling statement:
“On behalf of myself and our organization, I’d like to apologize to the fans and anybody that cares about hockey and especially the Nashville Predators.”
It was very clear that Poile was embarrassed that the lockout went on for as long as it did. The Predators know that some fans will likely be upset over the lockout, and they hope that fans will be forgiving and come back to Bridgestone Arena in large numbers this season.
“Like anything in life, whether it’s your relationship with the Predators or hockey or your personal relationships, sometimes things go wrong and you need to apologize and I’m apologizing, and sometimes you need forgiveness,” Poile said.
As the lockout progressed, so did the anger and downright apathy with fans around the NHL. Nashville was no different, and Poile knows that some of the fans will still have some of that anger when the upcoming season begins.
“All we can do is apologize and say we’re sorry. It was something that was necessary to do, and we’re done there. Please forgive us. Please come back. We’re going to do everything we can to provide great entertainment here at Bridgestone Arena,” Poile said.
Of course, nothing makes fans forget their anger like a winning product, and Poile has focused his attention on making the Predators a very competitive team this year. The majority of the roster from last season’s team that made it to the second round of the playoffs for the second time in franchise history is returning, including several young players who are still developing. Nashville’s depth could prove to be very rewarding with what will likely be a 48-game schedule this season.
“I think in a shortened season like this one that a lot of things probably favor us in that we haven’t made many changes. Our coaching staff is the same. I don’t think we’ll need a lot of time to adapt to each other. It’s certainly going to be a sprint,” Poile said.
Poile said that the season will likely start on Jan. 19, which was originally scheduled to be a home game for the Predators against the Chicago Blackhawks. The new schedule has not been released yet, but the Predators will likely open at home within the friendly confines of Bridgestone Arena due to the fact that the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus comes to town on Jan. 25. The Predators will have to be on the road for a while then because the ice will be removed to accommodate the circus.