Commentary by Steve Gill
Nashville has a lot to be proud of in the wake of the historic Stanley Cup Final run by the Predators:
- The class and skill of a team on the rise that promises to be back stronger and better next year.
- City officials who handled incredible crowds with efficiency and flexibility, especially when combined with the crowd control nightmare of CMA Fest colliding with a Stanley Cup Final all in a several block radius.
- Fans who fully embraced a sport that many were still learning and players they had never heard of when the playoff run began.
Nashville’s reputation as an “it” town was already firmly in place before, but it is more “it” than ever in the view of hockey and sports media types who had never given Nashville more than a passing glance in the past. Terms like “Smashville” and “Prednecks,” and the visuals of catfish on ice, are now a part of NHL lore.
But what Nashville can perhaps most be proud of is cementing our reputation as a place where Southern Hospitality is still a “thing.”
Yes, there was some booing of the winning Penguins as they hoisted the Stanley Cup. And, NBC analyst Mike Milbury may not have felt much love after his endorsement of the Sydney Crosby assault on ice of Predators star P.K. Suban. But all in all it was some pretty tame stuff compared to intense SEC football rivalry games.
The Predators WERE robbed of a key goal by a horribly blown call, and one that could have and should have been reversed. But, plenty of good scoring opportunities went awry and several power plays, including a 5-3 advantage, didn’t produce points that would have put the Preds in firm control. Championships should be won by players, however, not admittedly bad calls by referees.
Victories and defeats in major sports all too often result in massive misbehavior. In 2011 when the Vancouver Canucks lost the Stanley Cup to the Boston Bruins the city went into full riot mode with about $5 million in damage to businesses and buildings downtown. Riots in responses to wins or losses are not limited to professional sports.
So, how did over 100,000 people in downtown Nashville respond to the heartbreaking loss?
They praised their players, team and city and promised to be back next year. No riots. No burning of cars. No looting. No temper tantrums. Sadly, that won’t get much attention from the national media. Yet, among the long list of things that Nashville should be proud of in connection with the Press epic run is the fact that despite the emotional and devastating loss of the Cup on our home ice, the collective response was essentially, “We wuz robbed, bless your heart!”
That is one of the many reasons people are so impressed and captivated by our community and one we should proudly embrace as firmly as our support for the Preds.
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Steve Gill is a media and political strategist and former conservative talk radio host.