Wednesday, August 3, 2011
The Predator Way is Never Easy
When I left on vacation last week, I was fairly well convinced that Shea Weber and the Nashville Predators would come together on a deal that would keep the captain safely in tow for the next four or five years. I'm back home now and shocked that it didn't happen.
Happily, I avoided Twitter for the most part for the past few days but from what I could tell, the carnage among Predator fans was horrible. #WeberWatch was out of control as the hours ticked down to yesterday's arbitration hearing.
When Elliotte Friedman Tweeted that the spread between the two sides was $4.75 to $8.5 million, the panic reached a crescendo. The numbers really meant very little in the big scheme of things. I still maintain the ruling will come in around $7 million, give or take a quarter million or so.
At that point, speculation was rampant that Weber was destined to be a short-timer regardless of the outcome of the arbitration. The fact is that he could be. There is little guarantee that anyone will be a Predator for life.
If Weber leaves in the next couple of years either through an offer sheet next summer or a trade that could occur at almost any point, the Preds will receive plenty of assets in return. It could even be the high scoring sniper that everyone has complained that the team hasn't had since the beginning of the franchise.
Another thought is that if Weber doesn't get a long-term deal then Ryan Suter and Pekka Rinne will be gone at the end of this season. That is simply a “sky is falling” mentality. It could actually mean that there is money for both next year and that with a trade for a scorer the team could be stronger and more balanced between offense and defense.
The Predators have an abundance of riches in young defenseman and they all need a chance to play at the next level. A one-year contract for Weber could open the door for the next potential budding all-star to rise to prominence.
So much is said and written about “The Predator Way” and all the positive aspects about teamwork, being hard to play against, and leaving it all on the ice every night. That will not change with or without Weber.
Another aspect of “The Predator Way” that doesn't get discussed much is that it is never easy. Barry Trotz has said that more than once, most recently when the team lost the tiebreaker for home ice advantage in the first round at the end of the season. The team rose to the occasion and they beat Anaheim the hard way by winning on the road.
One final thing that I have seen is folks turning against either David Poile or Shea Weber during the whole ordeal. There really isn't a demon in the situation. It is a business and it is being treated as such.
Poile cannot get emotional and act as if not signing Weber is the end of the world. He has a budget just like any other business or household and has to stay withing the available funds. If fans want the team to have a bigger budget then every game needs to sell out and more advertising needs to be bought.
Weber cannot be faulted for wanting to maximize his income while having the best shot at winning the Stanley Cup. If he can't do it in Nashville with the team they are building, then it is his prerogative to go elsewhere where he thinks he may do better.
The bottom line is that no matter what happens in the next day or so, the Predators will remain competitive and could even be improved long-term as a result. Shea Weber is not critical to the success of the team. Everyone just needs to chill out and see what happens.
The Predator Way is never easy and fans should be used to the fact that the difficulty keeps it interesting.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOntheGlass