Nashville fans have seen two playoff series wins in their history, including one this year. They have never made it past the second round and hope to even their current series against the Phoenix Coyotes at two games apiece. Their fans have been waiting a long time for this team to be great. Their patience has weathered through only one head coach, Barry Trotz and one general manager, David Polie. In a sport that fires its coaches for any number of reasons, the Predators seem finally close to having their patience pay off.
On the other side of the glass, the Phoenix Coyotes are trying to drown the ’For Sale’ sign on the front of their franchise in playoff success, led by goaltender Mike Smith. Phoneix ranks lowest in the league in attendance and sometimes has trouble breaking the 10,000 mark.
I feel bad for the few Phoenix fans, but for those without a team in the playoffs, watching a fan base that only started showing up a few games ago is hard to take. There are other teams that struggle with attendance, but no city is as apathetic or uncommitted to hockey as Glendale, Arizona.
Nashville fans prove that hockey can work in non-traditional markets. They are everything that Phoenix should have been. Pekka Rinne and Shea Weber give the Predators superstars for the future. They knocked out their dreaded rivals, the Detroit Red Wings from the central division in the first round and now just need to tie up this series to have a shot. The Los Angeles Kings are starting to look scary good, but maybe a slow jam in Nashville could change the course of the playoffs. Country Music, meet hockey. Let’s all be friends.