17 May 2012

MvsW #0121 QoD

Marek vs Wyshynski #0121 (May 08, 2012) Question of the Day:
Where is Ryan Suter playing next season?

Oh good god, I hope it's in Detroit.

I think that it would ultimately be best for the NHL if he stayed in Nashville, and if he's not going to go to Detroit, I'd prefer he just stayed there.  I can't help but root for a team that has done things the right way, in how they've built their team, which is an alarmingly rare thing anymore.  It is good for the league and for the Nashville market if they don't lose their star players and continue to be contenders in the West.  I believe that part of our job as hockey players and hockey fans is to evangelize the game, and help it spread and grow and be a positive factor in other people's lives.

One of the things I really dislike about a lot of people in the hockey world, and particularly in Canada, is the tendency to tell certain markets that they don't "get" hockey, that they don't "deserve" hockey.  Whether it's because they "don't even get snow", because they're "in the city", or because they don't "appreciate the game", that is absolute bullshit.  Hockey is for everyone.  If you don't believe me, ask Jarome Iginla, Sean Avery, or Brian Burke.  One of the things that we, as hockey fans, need to do, is to help push that mission.  We shouldn't do that because the NHL has a PSA about it, but because it's something that should happen for the good of and the growth of our game.

The only way we can grow this game is to do so organically, from a grassroots level.  Hockey can work in "alternative" markets, but it takes work and success on the part of an NHL team.  Hockey has exploded in areas like Northern California (Sharks), Texas (Stars), and Southern California (Wayne Gretzky Kings) because of successes that those teams have had, in addition to grassroots efforts on the parts of those teams to help build rinks and found youth hockey programs, to hook new generations on this wonderful sport.

As a result, 20 years later, we're beginning to reap the rewards of those efforts, as we start to see new players come from those areas, as well as building a culture by way of kids who've now grown up immersing their own kids in the game.  This is how a culture is built, and it's god damn ignorant for Canada and other "traditional" markets to think that because they have a head start of several decades, that they are somehow superior to anywhere located south of the Mason-Dixon line.

Bringing that tangent full circle, it's easy to see why Ryan Suter remaining in Nashville is important for the NHL and for the Predators.  If Suter goes to DET or PHI, he's going to a more established hockey culture, where his impact on the growth of the game will likely not be what it would've been had he stayed in Nashville.  If he stays in Nashville, he can be a part of the effort to grow the game there, helping push Nashville as a stronger hockey market.  This can help the NHL, not only by strengthening it's national presence, but maybe more importantly by maybe making the Nashville Predators stronger financially, eliminating them as a bottom-third team in the NHL's financial structure, making the entire league more financially stable.

All of that said, my personal preference is that he goes to Detroit, for my own selfish reasons.  Nicklas Lidstrom is on the way out, and ever since the 2009 finals where a hobbled Lidstrom was unable to be his usual self against the Penguins, I've been scared of what this team will be without him.  The way the NHL has worked for the last 20 years, the most valuable thing you can have is a true #1 top-flight elite defenseman who can fill a "shutdown" role.

The Red Wings do not currently have anyone to fill that role right now.  Kronwall isn't a "shutdown" type of guy - he just directs more chances at the opposition net than he gives up.  Quincey isn't that guy.  White isn't that guy.  Maybe Smith is that guy, but we don't know that yet.  Ericsson is a genuinely impressive kind of trainwreck.  Kindl probably won't be that guy either.  This team needs a player like Suter to win the sort of series that Detroit just lost to Nashville.

In the end, my money is on Philadelphia.  They have the riches in their forward ranks to trade to Nashville to get Suter's negotiating rights, and we all know that Paul Holmgren is not shy at all with ratcheting up the numbers on contracts.  If that happens, it will be a loss for both the Predators and the league as a whole.

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