By Ted Cabata, Staff Writer | Follow him on Twitter
What a great offseason week in the Sunbelt. Nashville answered the call, the Canes made a big splash, and the rest of the teams in the region avoided the distractions going on in Boston and New York.
First off, let’s get the non-Sunbelt issues out of the way. Yes, the Rangers are the ones that landed Rick Nash, but like anything the Rangers do it wasn’t without controversy.
Did the Blueshirts give up too much? Did they give up the wrong guys? Did they solve anything by taking on a payroll that high?
Let’s just be happy that Nash stayed up North and left more controversy out of the Sunbelt.
Next we have Tim Thomas—who is already sitting this season out—running his mouth about Chick-fil-A. This is hockey folks, we don’t need expatriates distracting us from trying to win the Cup.
After all that it actually makes you glad to root for a Sunbelt team, especially when the Nashville Predators answer the call and match a huge contract offer to defenseman Shea Weber. Whether you are a Predators fan or not this move should have made you very excited and very happy. The move is great for hockey and great for the future of the Nashville Predators. Nashville showed that they weren’t going to throw in the towel and give up on their team; Weber showed that he is committed to winning wherever he may play, and the NHL showed that any team can afford any player at any time. (Subtle jab at the owners pending lockout right there!)
Not to be outdone, the Carolina Hurricanes went out and landed Alexander Semin with a $7 million dollar contract. This was a great move by Carolina; Semin is a player who can add depth up front. But if the worries are true and he really is running out of gas, he’s a big enough name to draw trade attention in the spring and allow Carolina to maybe get a younger prospect in return. If not, he’s gone after a year and the Hurricanes continue to build around the Staals, Skinner and Cam Ward.
Carolina has also made it clear that they aren’t done yet, which is even better news to hear. Landing a top player is great, keeping one you were about to lose is important, but staying in the market and going for broke is a win/win for both the team and its fans. You have already sparked interest from the fan base by landing Jordan Staal and signing Alexander Semin. Now if you go out and trade for one more guy or sign one more player, you can really put the team on the map.
This will only build the fan base more and get a city that remembers winning the Cup back into the sport before it succumbs to being just an ACC town again.