A week ago, the Nashville Predators of the NHL named Roman Josi as their new captain. But, how did they get there? Let’s run down the events leading up to this controversial decision:
July 8th, 2010; Shea Weber is named the fifth captain of the Nashville Predators. He takes over the job from veteran Jason Arnott, becoming the youngest captain in franchise history at 24 years old. Weber is the first Predators captain to be drafted by the team and is considered one of the best young defensemen in the league at this point in time. Expectations are high, and Preds fans are excited to see where this new era will take the team.
April 27th, 2016; Weber has been captain for almost six years now, and it has obviously made an impact. For the third time in team history, the Nashville Predators have won a playoff series. This was their first ever seven-game series, and their first ever seven-game series win. Although they would go on to lose to the soon-to-be Stanley Cup Finalist San Jose Sharks in the second round, the season is seen as a huge step in the right direction for the team. The future looks bright, and the team is ready for Weber to lead them to more success.
June 29th, 2016; The entire hockey world is shaken up over the course of about an hour. First, Edmonton Oilers forward and fan-favorite Taylor Hall is shipped off to the New Jersey Devils for the lesser-known Adam Larsson. Before fans can catch their breath from that, the Nashville Predators make a huge move. They send their beloved captain, Shea Weber, to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for defenseman P.K. Subban. The move shocks fans for many reasons, one being that Montreal just got done saying that they weren’t shopping Subban. The deal was a straight-up, one-for-one deal, and there didn’t seem to be a lot of build-up to the trade. It just happened. One day Shea Weber goals would trigger “I Like it, I Love it”, and the next, “Allez Montreal” would play following his famous slapshots.
September 7th, 2016; Mike Fisher, a good friend of Shea Weber’s, is named the sixth captain of the Nashville Predators after four seasons as an alternate captain. The team is hoping to continue to build on the groundwork that Captain Weber laid, and is expected to be successful. Many people predict that they will make it to the Stanley Cup Final, or even win the trophy.
October 11th, 2016; It is announced that Roman Josi and James Neal will serve as Fisher’s alternate captains for the 2016-2017 season. This will be Neal’s third season wearing the A, and Josi’s first full-time season with it stitched on his jersey. This does not come as a surprise to fans, as Neal has already been a great alternate captain and Josi has shown leadership skills even without a letter on his sweater. The season is steadily creeping up on the team, and success seems to be in the cards for them.
June 11th, 2017; The Nashville Predators, after making it past the second round of the playoffs for the first time in team history, fall to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2017 Stanley Cup Final. It’s a bittersweet moment since it’s an amazing accomplishment for the team, but they came up just short. P.K. Subban is one of the standout players during the whole season, including the playoffs. It’s also worth noting that, in the first season after the swap, Shea Weber’s team was eliminated in the first round in six games, and P.K. Subban’s team made it to the final. In addition to all of this, many players may have just played their final NHL game. Veterans like Mike Fisher and Pekka Rinne may retire, and players like James Neal seem to be on the chopping block for the Vegas Golden Knights expansion draft, which happens to be in ten days.
June 21st, 2017; The Vegas Golden Knights have their expansion draft, selecting one player from each already-existing NHL team. From the Nashville Predators, as expected, they select James Neal. Many questions run through fans’ heads, including who will get James Neal’s A? No comment is made about who the Predators’ alternates will be after the loss of Neal.
August 3rd, 2017; As expected, Mike Fisher announces his retirement from the NHL after leading his team to their first-ever Stanley Cup Final. Still no comment is made about who the alternates and captain will be. Panic starts to set in for the team for the first time in a while. They don’t have Shea Weber or a “game plan” to fall back on, and they’re coming off of their best season… ever. Of course, it’s obvious to fans that P.K. Subban has been a leader on and off the ice during his first season in Nashville, but the team doesn’t seem to see that.
September 19th, 2017; Roman Josi is named the seventh captain of the Nashville Predators. Ryan Ellis is named “associate captain”, and Ryan Johansen, Mattias Ekholm, and Filip Forsberg are named “alternate captains.” The biggest surprises are in “alternate captains” Filip Forsberg and Ryan Johansen. Forsberg is only 23 and entering his fourth full NHL season, which is a little young to be in a leadership role in the eyes of some fans. As for Johansen, he is entering his second full season with the Predators, after building a following in Columbus. Prior to playing in Nashville, Johansen had a huge fanbase as a Blue Jacket, before a trade broke it up in January 2016. Controversy swirls around the decision since P.K. Subban has been completely left out of the conversation.
What does this all mean? This series of events says a lot about the Nashville Predators organization over the past few years. The leadership was completely intact for so long, and now it seems to be falling apart at the seams. After having the same captain for six years, the Preds have gone through two in two years. Despite sounding negative, this may have had a positive impact on the team. Since switching captains, Nashville had their best season and playoff run to date. Could switching captains again finally take them all the way? Fans can only hope. Besides that, it’s hard to ignore the one gaping hole in the leadership team.
Pernell Karl (better known as “P.K.”) Subban is a sort of character in the NHL. It’s hard not to have an opinion on him- from his previously dirty style of play to his work with children’s hospitals, to his outrageous suits, to the way he was abruptly shoved out of Montreal. Fans’ opinions on Subban don’t just come from those things, though. P.K. Subban is not white. Although this may seem irrelevant to many people, unfortunately, it is still a reason to not like a player for some fans.
While it is not explicitly stated, there is an obvious racial bias within the NHL. “But P.K. has only been on the Predators for one season!” Shea Weber had an A on his jersey the minute he landed in Montreal, and the Predators organization still pays no mind to Subban as a leader. Excuses and arguments can be made forever, but it’s becoming increasingly obvious that Subban isn’t getting as much responsibility because of the color of his skin. Is it unreasonable? Yes. Is it likely to change soon? No. That’s the part that stings the most.
In this day and age, it’s hard to change the minds of those who have such strict opinions. So, what can you do? Speak your mind. Do you think Subban should’ve gotten an A? Do you think he should get recognized more? Do you just think he generally deserves better? Tweet the team. Tweet the league. Send a letter. Contact them on Facebook. Fight against prejudice in YOUR league, and maybe a change will be made. Who knows? Maybe P.K. will finally get a letter on his sweater sometime soon.
Do you agree with the Predators’ leadership selections? Do you think P.K. Subban should have gotten a letter? Sound off and let us know what you think by tweeting us: @PuckItUpBlog