Weekly Top 5: Reasons We're Ready for Smashville!
There’s something special about hockey season in Nashville. It’s a feeling, really. Whether you’re walking down Broadway among a sea of gold, each step leading you towards the same destination with a sense of pride that erupts once in the arena. Our arena. Bridgestone arena, which has been known to be louder than the rest (and it’s getting even louder). The 2017 Stanley Cup finals catapulted Nashville into the national eye, making it known as THE hockey town. We have a sense of pride and hunger and passion that is both electric and contagious - and it’s something everyone wants to be a part of. It’s a special thing, to be the Seventh Man. And I, for one, am more excited than ever for the approaching hockey season.
For this week’s WTF, I’m sharing the five things that are leading us into regular season with the right foot forward. October 4th - we’re ready for you.
By now, I’ve shared a few times that I’m a pretty avid video game player. But. I have never, ever, EVER been a player of sports games — not football, not FIFA...not even hockey (and I love hockey). NHL 19 by EA Sports is the top hockey video game in the world - and PK Subban is the first Predator to don the cover. Predators’ beloved Pekka Rinne sat alongside Subban as a finalist to be on the cover of the game but the honor was ultimately handed to Subban, who was nominated for the Norris Trophy as the League’s top defenseman in 2018 and the King Clancy Memorial Trophy for his humanitarian efforts (which are vast, I assure you).Turns out, this is all it took for me to break my non-sports game streak. And I am oh-so-glad I did. It’s not my best game, but it sure’s hell is fun!
Do the names Thomas Willis and Brooks Bratten ring a bell? They may not, but these two are the duo behind NashvillePredators.com and the young men who host this brand-spanking-new podcast that made its debut on September 15 — and is just two episodes in. Thomas and Brooks dive deep with inside access to the team and interviews with players and analysts - a great mix of personal talk and hockey talk. Each episode is 45-minutes long and airs every Saturday at 8am CST on 102.5 The Game. If 8am isn’t your kind of thing on a Saturday (it’s certainly not mine), you can also catch the episodes via iTunes or Google Play.
3. Pekka Rinne got himself a new mask - he’s calling it “Iron Pred”
Did you know goaltenders often change out their helmet each year? Did you know they pretty much have creative freedom with their artist of choice to whip up a design of their dreams? Well, they do. Our beloved goaltender, Pekka Rinne, works with artist David Gunnarsson, AKA DaveArt, to make his mask dreams come true. And this year, it’s the Iron Pred. Pekka always sticks to the same theme - a Predators head surrounding his face - with an accent on the back of the mask - a Finnish crest and an ode to his grandfather. Let’s hope this one brings good luck (knock on wood).
4. With a new season comes change.
And these are some of the most important ones:
So long JoFA // Hello JoFFi
Preds fans love their top line. We have a nickname for them, actually. They’re called JoFA - the affectionate acronym for Ryan Johansen, Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson (Forsberg is my favorite player and a hat trick machine). But, with how preseason is shaping up, and according to NHL.com’s season preview of the Nashville predators, it looks like coach Laviolette is mixing things up (something he historically does not like to do), and we’re about to have a new top line. Introducing: JoFFi - Ryan Johansen, Filip Forsberg, and...Kevin Fiala. This puts Arvidson on the second line with Calle Jarnkrok and Kyle Turris. The lines continue to change slightly from there, but it seems to me the main goal here is to spread the wealth - and the scoring. Fiala is a young guy (22) and placing him on that top line should make him shine more so than last season, where he earned 48 points (23 goals, 25 assists).
Ryan is 27 years old. He just got married. He’s been with the Preds since 2009, when he was picked 11th in the NHL Draft. And he was just signed to an eight-year $50 million contract with the team. Congrats to him, we’re happy he’s sticking around.
We signed Defenseman Dan Hamhuis to a two-year contract.
(Wait, who now?)
Right. The Preds want to win a Stanley Cup (we all do) and it seems Hamhuis is who will help us do just that. His $2.5 million contract will pay $1.5 million in the 2018-19 season and $1 million in the 2019-’20 season. Let’s hope this move pays off - I’m still knocking on wood.
5. We’re shining bright in Music City
Renovations, galore! Bridgestone Arena has been preparing a series of improvements over the break - $8.5 million worth of improvements. Including a new audio system specifically designed for Bridgestone (told you we were getting even louder), new LED ribbons inside the arena bowl (all of those ads surrounding the ice will now be digital), and completely revamping the in-house control room. Basically, as fans, our experience is about to get a whole hell of a lot more cool. Oh yeah, and you know the glass that surrounds the ice? They redid that, too. Not only is it now safer for the players, but it makes the game more entertaining, too. This new glass will double - it will give more when a player hits it - and that means it’ll bounce and rock and wave in a ripple effect when players hit it...bringing the action on the ice to our seats.
The Nashville Predators’ regular season starts on October 4th, with their first at-home game on the 9th of October against the Calgary Flames. Follow @predsnhl on Instagram for more updates and check out the podcast - all on NashvillePredators.com.