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After winters of discontent, the Titans and Predators look to shine on

Post Season



To our ancestors, April was a month of turning points.

The equinox in late March was an astrological marker; the greening of plants and the birth of animals more tangible signposts.

We're far too sophisticated for such silliness now. Our years change in January, and the advent of air conditioning, refrigerated trucks and advanced animal husbandry separates us from the natural markers of change.

Now April's big marker is Tax Day — not a time of change so much as searching for loose change in the couch cushions to render Caesar his due.

In Nashville, though, our sports teams may see April 2013 as a hinge once again.

After a campaign marked with mediocrity, near-misses and one performance after another that resembled tumbling pigeons more than soaring eagles, the Titans had what has been perceived as one of the best offseasons since the team moved to town.

They jettisoned veteran quarterback Matt Hasselbeck in favor of the Harvard-educated Ryan Fitzpatrick — a downgrade at the No. 2 spot, but a true indication the team was pushing in its chips with Jake Locker. They added veterans at wide receiver, at running back and on the offensive and defensive lines.

On paper, at least, they improved.

And starting tonight, they can improve further by drafting a new class of rookies to compete with their free-agent additions.

They will need to get bigger on the offensive line and more sound defensively. But they've had success in the draft in the past two or three seasons, picking up players many pundits perceived as projects only to see them develop into regular contributors.

Another performance like that by the front office and April will indeed be a time of rebirth on the East Bank.

Across town, the Predators are playing out the string on a season delayed by a silly lockout and marred by injury. The Predators found themselves with too many grinders and not enough skill — even Barry Trotz, who usually romanticizes the tough anonymity of much of his lineup, admitted his team had "too many of the same type" of hardworking but skill-deficient players.

So now the Predators find themselves near the bottom of the league. They added young Swedish phenom Filip Forsberg via trade and are on target to pick in the top five of June's draft for the first time since their first season.

The Predators' success through the years has been a careful and cautious approach, focused on development and role players. Time and again it worked, and in last season's playoffs they were seen as Stanley Cup contenders.

It's easy to imagine David Poile as an admirer of G.K. Chesterton, who noted that conservatism often means constant care. If you want an old white post, Chesterton wrote, you must have a new white post.

The Predators' post deteriorated very quickly. Carefully manicured year after year, it had become rotten from the inside, and as the 2013 season wore on, that once simple and effective white post was marred with ugliness. It could no longer be patched the same way as before. It needed repainting. Should the Predators end up with one of the top three or four picks in the draft, that new coat of paint could be a shade rarely seen at 501 Broadway — shiny, skilled and dazzling.

There may yet be rebirth and renewal for the Titans and the Predators. And everything old and stale will be new again.



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