This season, to get a fresh perspective on the outlook of every NHL team, Lighthouse Hockey has reached out to those who really know the players better than anyone - the service people in their neighborhoods. This time, previewing the Central Division, is Dr. Isaac U. Freeman, chiropractor for Nashville Predators coach Barry Trotz.
Q: The Predators took a step backward last season, missing the playoffs for the first time since 2009. What do they need to do to re-establish themselves in the new Central Division?
A: Coach is a great guy. I call Barry "Coach" because I'm an old athlete myself and I know about having respect for coaches. He'll have the Preds humming, I guarantee you that. He's also got a touch of webbed neck and some scoliosis up around the shoulder area, but that tough hombre refuses surgery. Good for me, but bad for his back.
Q: Can Seth Jones make an immediate impact and replace the production lost from Ryan Suter's departure last summer?
A: I haven't examined the kid yet, but he's got posture as straight as an arrow. I like that.
Q: The St. Louis Blues have all the makings of young team ready to challenge for the Stanley Cup. What element do they need to acquire before they can achieve true contender status?
A: St. Louis always reminds me of the best chiropractic convention I ever attended. St. Loo Spine-O-Con, 1992. Whoo dog, you talk about wild! We got wild, I guarantee you that. I also gave a great speech there called "The Sacrum: Gateway to the Waist" that went over big with the local docs.
Q: The defending Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks appear to be the favorite to lead the division again and possibly win back-to-back titles. What, if any, are their weaknesses?
A: Know who I worked on once? Air Jordan, when was with Washington. They're playing the Grizzlies and I got courtside seats at the Pyramid from another patient of mine - Mr. Vince Gill, if you must know.
Before the game I overhear a couple of coaches saying Mike can't feel his elbows and that he needs a chiro or else he can't play. So, of course, I jump up and volunteer my services.
They take me in, I meet Mike - I call him Mike because he's a buddy of mine - and he's in bad shape. Crying like a little girl whose cat got eaten by a rototiller. I say, "Don't worry, MJ. I'm gonna fix you, I guarantee you that." A bunch of guys - I think they were the rest of the Wizards, but I'm not sure - get him on to a trainer's table and I go to work.
Turns out, he's got some hellacious radiculopathy going on. And Mike's a tough nut, too, because he's all muscle and this adjustment's hurting me as much as it hurts him. Meanwhile, he's crying and the game's about to start! But I kept cracking and cracking and eventually got that sucker straightened out. One of the longest adjustments I've ever done. Almost seven or eight minutes.
So Mike gets up and gives me a big hug. Says I saved his season. I say, "My pleasure. Now, you take it easy on the Grizz, you hear?" He says sure. Then he drops 48 points on them! In three quarters! He is a ruthless son of a bitch. But he's a good buddy of mine.
Q: The Wild came on late last season to make the playoffs and they have a well-stocked prospect pool. Is Minnesota a real threat this year within the division?
A: I worked on Betty White once, too. She was performing a one-woman show in Branson, Missouri, called "Red Hot White Nights." And it was, I guarantee you that! That lady can hoof! But at the start of the show, I can see she's barely breathing. So at the intermission, I go back stage and introduce myself. I tell her she's in the beginning stages of ankylosing spondylitis and she tells me to shut the hell up and get that crap out of her. A few minutes later, she's out there for the second act, hanging from a trapeze like Circ du Soleil! Betty still sends me Christmas cards. Great lady.
Q: Dallas has made a lot of changes since the end of the season, bringing in Tyler Seguin and Sergei Gonchar among others. What are the Stars' realistic expectations this year?
A; Larry Hagman came in one time, too. Had some spinal stenosis. Great guy. Is he dead? (Ed. Note: Unfortunately, yes.)
Q: Colorado added another offensive prospect to their line-up at this year's draft by selecting forward Nathan McKinnon. Was he the right pick for the still-rebuilding Avalanche?
A: Do they need a team chiropractor?
Q: Finally, the Winnipeg Jets have committed a lot of salary to players they have identified as their core. But those players have yet to lead the Jets to the playoffs in their two seasons in Winnipeg. Have the Jets put their eggs in the wrong baskets?
A: OK! That's it. The girl outside will take your co-pay.
Pacific Division Preview by Ryan Getzlaf's Barber
Atlantic Division Preview by Daniel Alfredsson's Real Estate Agent
Next: Metropolitan Division Preview by Eric, Jordan, Mark and Jared Staal's 11-year-old cousin Oliver.
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