Most Predators fans have attended a game at Bridgestone Arena, watched every captivating minute of the 2017 Stanley Cup, and remember exactly where they were when the team traded Shea Weber for P.K. Subban. But only real fans can tell you the origins of the catfish toss or know the full story of how hockey first came to Music City. Whether you've been a die-hard booster since '98 or are a more recent supporter of Filip Forsberg and Pekka Rinne, 100 Things Predators Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die stands as the ultimate resource for Smashville faithful. Nashville sportswriter John Glennon has collected every essential piece of Preds knowledge and trivia, as well as must-do activities, and ranks them all from 1 to 100, providing an entertaining and easy-to-follow checklist as you progress on your way to fan superstardom.
About the Author
John Glennon is a journalist who has covered Nashville sports for over 20 years, including 12 years as the Predators beat reporter for The Tennessean. He currently covers the Preds and Tennessee Titans for The Athletic. A native of Alexandria, Virginia, Glennon graduated with a BA in English from the University of Virginia. This is his first book. Mike Fisher played 18 seasons in the NHL for the Nashville Predators and Ottawa Senators.
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Peter Forsberg Was a Rock Star
Even looking back at it more than a decade later, there is still a sense of the surreal about the day the Predators acquired Peter Forsberg in a trade with Philadelphia. The Preds were no longer considered an expansion team at that point in 2007 — not after they'd put almost eight full seasons under their belts and made the playoffs the past two years. But they were still relative newcomers to the league, a team that — despite a talented roster featuring the likes of Paul Kariya, Steve Sullivan, and Jason Arnott — hadn't even been fully embraced by its hometown yet, let alone the rest of the hockey world.
So to see Forsberg, one of the best players on the planet, wearing a Predators jersey and skating on Nashville's home ice for the first time, was more than a little mind-blowing. "I mean, Peter Forsberg came into our franchise, walked into our building, skated on our ice — and he was a rock star," Predators general manager David Poile said. "For everybody — our players, our coaches, our fans, for our whole franchise — we've never seen anything like it. In terms of what one player could do, or the impact he could have on our team and our franchise, it was awesome."
The Predators were already well on their way to producing a franchise-best 110-point season by the time Forsberg arrived. The team's record stood at 39–17–3 following a loss at St. Louis on the night the deal for Forsberg was consummated. But the trade for Foppa signaled that the Predators and former owner Craig Leipold had much more on their minds than a good regular-season finish. The Predators surrendered two former first-round picks — defenseman Ryan Parent and forward Scottie Upshall — as well as first- and third-round picks to acquire Forsberg from Philadelphia. "It was pretty much a statement that [we were] all in, [we were] going for it," Leipold said. "We had Paul Kariya, who had played with Forsberg before. We thought we had a great team that could make a lot of noise in the playoffs. He was a special player. So we brought him in."
Leipold understandably wanted Forsberg in the Nashville lineup as quickly as possible. So despite the fact that winter storms were wreaking havoc on airports around the country the night of the trade, Leipold commandeered a private jet to fly from Nashville to Philadelphia. It returned to Music City with the Preds' new prized possession, in time for the next night's home contest against Minnesota.
Forsberg, 33 years old at the time of the trade, brought two Stanley Cup championships, 11 years of NHL experience, 680 games, and 856 points to Nashville. A future Hockey Hall of Famer, the bearded, blue-eyed Swede also carried a presence about him that was undefinable. "Everybody gravitated to him," Poile said. "He had that swagger, he had that aura, he had that it. This was Peter Forsberg. He was a little bit of a legend in terms of the success he'd had and the things he'd accomplished on the ice, and he was now playing for the Nashville Predators."
It took four games for Forsberg to record his first goal for the Predators, but the score was a memorable one. Just more than two minutes into overtime against former Central Division rival Detroit, Forsberg took a pass from Kariya and beat Chris Osgood, to the delight of a packed house in Nashville.
Forsberg made an impact on the Predators down the stretch, posting 15 points (2 goals, 13 assists) in 17 regular-season games. Nashville posted a 10–4–3 record in those contests to finish with a franchise-best 51 victories. But unfortunately for the Predators, injuries kept Forsberg from being the vintage Forsberg of years gone by. He was dealing with foot problems and a sports hernia, issues that at one point kept him out of six straight games in March. "He was very banged up when we got him, so he couldn't do the things he always did before that," former Preds associate coach Brent Peterson said. "But he was a gritty competitor. He was tough, and he led the way by example. He was such a great person that it was good to have him on our team."
The playoffs were a disappointment for the Predators, who'd been weakened by a number of injuries down the stretch. Forsberg scored twice in a Game 2 victory over San Jose in the first round, but the Predators were eventually upended by the San Jose Sharks team, which had also totaled 51 wins during the regular season.
Forsberg had notched four points in the series's five games, but by April 20, 2007, his time in Nashville was complete. "Unfortunately, I didn't play good enough to bring us far," Forsberg said after the final loss. "A few things didn't go our way. I really thought we had a good chance. ... You feel like you could do more every time you lose, so it's tough."
An unrestricted free agent that off-season, Forsberg re-signed with Colorado, where he had played from 1995 to 2004. But injuries limited him to just 11 more games in the rest of his career.
In 2014 Forsberg was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, having touched Music City with a little of his magic along the way. "Aside from what happened here [in 2017] in the playoffs, that two-month period of time, for me, is the highlight of our franchise," Poile said. "Other than the playoffs in 2017, the highest I've felt the interest in our franchise was when Peter Forsberg was here."CHAPTER 2
Lord Stanley's Epic Spring in Music City
The combination of the Predators' appearance in the 2017 Stanley Cup Finals, the Country Music Association Fest, and glorious spring temperatures produced some spectacular scenes in downtown Nashville in June 2017.
Only 17,283 hockey fans could be crammed into Bridgestone Arena prior to Game 3 of the Predators' series versus Pittsburgh on June 3, 2017, but thousands more descended on Lower Broadway just to be part of the atmosphere. In fact, just before country music star Alan Jackson took the stage for a free concert at 5:00 pm, a jam-packed crowd estimated at 50,000 extended from Fifth Avenue all the way to the riverfront. The majority of those in attendance wore Predators jerseys, meaning long-distance shots of the area looked as if there was a sea of gold running between Broadway's honky-tonks.
It was the kind of scene that was especially mind-blowing to out-of-towners, those who weren't used to seeing Music City throw that kind of a party — especially not for hockey. "I've never been to a college football game, but a lot of people told me that that's some of the vibe I got out there," said Toronto native Chris Johnston, a reporter for Sportsnet in Canada. "Even though I was in a suit and looked like an idiot, I spent about two hours walking around out there just because I was blown away by it all. ... I was taking pictures and talking to people ... just because I think 20 years from now, I'm going to tell people about that day."
On-and-off rain, as well as a Monday night game, helped limit the size of the outdoor crowd to "only" 10,000 to 15,000 people prior to Game 4 of the Cup Finals. But the conditions prior to Game 6 in Nashville on June 11 led to another monstrous outdoor gathering. Not only did the contest fall on a Sunday — with temperatures in the high 80s — but it also coincided with the final day of the immensely popular CMA Fest. A yearly tradition in Music City since 1972, the CMA Fest features hundreds of country music performers playing over a four-day period and draws tens of thousands of fans. Officials estimated the combination of Predators fans and country music fans downtown that day numbered between 60,000 and 70,000.
Preds fans not fortunate enough to get inside Bridgestone Arena still had plenty of opportunities to watch the game outside. Giant screens were moved into place for parties at Ascend Amphitheater and Walk of Fame Park in downtown Nashville, and three giant screens were put up on Broadway, which was closed from Fourth Avenue to Seventh Avenue. "Each Stanley Cup Final has its own flavor, but there's just a charm to this one," said Helene Elliott, the Los Angeles Times's veteran NHL writer. "The atmosphere in Nashville is just great. It's Southern hospitality. It's warmth. It's fun. They know how to have fun here."
All the energy and enthusiasm outside, however, couldn't overshadow the performance Predators fans were putting on inside Bridgestone. The team's vocal supporters had drawn more and more attention as the playoffs progressed, as they helped propel the Predators to 6 straight postseason wins at home — and 9 wins in 11 home playoff games overall. Wrote Ken Campbell, senior writer for the Hockey News:
The thing that really struck me is that I've never, even in a Stanley Cup Final, been in a rink when the stands have been filled during the warm-ups like they were [in Nashville].
Never in Montreal, Toronto, Detroit, or Pittsburgh, never in any of those quote-unquote hockey markets. But [in the Stanley Cup Final] during pre-game warm-ups here, this place was full of people in yellow shirts. And usually during warm-ups, people are just sitting there talking to each other. But these people were cheering during warm-ups, full-on cheering and chanting names like "Pe-kka!"
It's amazing. It really is. There's no question that people here have really, really embraced all of this, and that's what it's all about.
Predators players said they felt the passion of the crowd even while bunkered in their locker room in the moments before games. "We can hear the fans five minutes before we even go out on the ice," Predators forward Austin Watson said. "It's an incredible feeling. That crowd is bumping. You can already feel the energy, and we just feed off that."
Former Predators captain Mike Fisher took a stab at trying to explain just what made Bridgestone Arena so deafening, even in comparison to postseason crowds at other NHL venues. Fisher noted that the size of Bridgestone, which isn't as cavernous as places such as Chicago's United Center, works to the home team's advantage from a noise perspective. All those supporters packed together on top of the rink sound like an army, much the way Duke University's small — but ear-blasting — home crowds affect games at Cameron Indoor Stadium. "I think there [are] bigger buildings in the NHL than ours, but our fans are so passionate," Fisher said. "[The fact that] it's a smaller building makes the sound just unbelievable."
Added Arpon Basu, now a writer for the Athletic: "A number of players mentioned that [Bridgestone] is a difficult place to play because the fans are right on top of you. The unique nature of the crowd here is that they really feel they're impacting the game. You get a sense that they feel they're having an impact on the visiting team and on their own team."
Basu sees other reasons the Predators have carved out their own in-game identity as well. One is the chanting that goes on from the home crowds here, especially when it comes to riding the opponents' goalies — with the chant of "It's all your fault! It's all your fault!" — every time the Predators score. "The chanting is ... a very unique part of things here," Basu said. "I guess it's almost more of a collegiate atmosphere. But it's really what makes it unique as far as hockey fans [go]."
There were also the lengthy standing ovations during television timeouts, when Nashville fans got especially jacked up at times when most other supporters might sit down to catch their breath. For instance, the Preds faithful rose in unison at least four times during a Game 4 win over St. Louis in the second round, waving gold towels and roaring for the home team.
"I've been a part of different teams and different playoff runs," said former Preds forward James Neal, who played for Pittsburgh and Dallas before Nashville. "And honestly — I know every player says their fans are unbelievable — but you haven't seen a rink with this much energy unless you've played in it. It's crazy. It's unbelievable. It's so much fun to play in front of."
In the end, not even the emotional energy of the Preds fans could carry the team to its first Stanley Cup, as Pittsburgh won the final series 4–2. But there was a sense from the supporters afterward that they'd been part of something special, even if the last game on home ice was a loss. "The defining moment for me was that after that game was over, and after the Cup ceremony was over, our fans still didn't want to leave," Predators CEO and president Sean Henry said. "They were still chanting in the building, still hugging, still cheering. It just reinforced what a wonderful market this is and how special it is."(Continues…)
Excerpted from "100 Things Predators Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die"
Copyright © 2018 John Glennon.
Excerpted by permission of Triumph Books LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Foreword Mike Fisher ix
1 Peter Forsberg Was a Rock Star 1
2 Lord Stanley's Epic Spring in Music City 4
3 The Great One Gave Nashville a Thrill 8
4 Colton Sissons Stunned the Ducks 11
5 The Predators' First Superstar Arrives 13
6 There's a New Sheriff in Town 18
7 Breaking Through the First-Round Barrier at Last 22
8 The Comeback That Saved Barry Trotz's Job 25
9 The Preds Broke the Bank to Save a Superstar 27
10 Keep Your Damn Hands off My Team 31
11 Hammering the Hated 'Hawks and Shocking the Hockey World 35
12 Subban a Predator Like None Before Him 38
13 A Nashville Guy Saves His Hockey Team 42
14 Whiskey, Catfish, and a Southern-Fried Tradition 45
15 A Brazen Catfish Jake Braves a Foreign Building 49
16 A Draft Pick That Made the Arctic Circle Proud 53
17 Tootoo's Biggest Milestone Came off the Ice 56
10 Carrie Underwood's Husband Made Quite a Name for Himself 59
19 Nashville Almost Became an NBA Town 63
20 The Night the Preds' Dads Ran Wild 67
21 The Predators and Titans Once Shared a Frosty Relationship 69
22 The Hardest Decision Craig Leipold Ever Made 72
23 Pushing the Playoff Pedal to the Metal 76
24 It's a Good Thing Gnash Has Nine Lives 78
25 The Turris Trade Was the Perfect Fit 82
26 Analyzing the Legwand Legacy in Nashville 85
27 David Legwand Stuck It to Broadway's Big-Money Team 89
28 A Memorable Marathon on Ice 91
29 The Preds Struck Gold in 2011 94
30 Taking a Chance on Barry Trotz 97
31 Shea Weber's Changeup Shook the Ducks 101
32 "Settling" for Seth Jones 104
33 Singers Stole the Show During the 2017-18 Stanley Cup Run 107
34 The Predators Rolled Sevens in the Playoffs 110
35 A Surreal Start for Steve Sullivan 112
36 A Sick Farewell Parry at Joe Louis Arena 116
37 Tom Cigarran Went from Taking It Easy to Taking Over 118
38 Ryan Johansen Came of Age at Just the Right Time 122
39 Brent Peterson Found New Purpose in Life 125
40 Wiry a Delayed Celebration Proved One of the Predators' Biggest 128
41 Check Out the Fang That Formed a Logo 131
42 Radulov Arrived to Cheers and Left to Jeers-Twice 134
43 The Hockey Hall of Fame Features a Pair of Productive Preds 137
44 A Snarling, Snapping Dog Sparked the Predators' Cup Run 141
45 The Red Wings Received an Icy First Reception in Nashville 143
46 Filip Forsberg Became the Mad Hatter 146
47 It's Still Referred to As the Road Trip from Hell 150
48 Weber's Slap Shot Was a Laser with a Black Trail 153
49 A Snowstorm Made Dan Ellis's Biggest Save 156
50 Watson Went from Waivers to Warrior 159
51 Pete Weber Choked Up over Terry Crisp 161
52 A Double Dose of Disaster in St. Paul 164
53 Tootsie's Orchid Lounge: Where Hockey Players Take the Stage 167
54 Infection Proved Rinne's Biggest Opponent 170
55 The Night the Predators Beat Up Big Brother 173
56 The Predators Knocked Themselves out of the 2008 Playoffs 176
57 Mr. Irrelevant Made Quite an Impact 179
58 The Standing O Became a Nashville Statement 181
59 The Preds' Franchise Opener Was a Red-Carpet Affair 184
60 Scott Hartnell's Homecoming Was 10 Years in the Making 187
61 The Night Hockey Stopped Mattering 189
62 Poile Took the Road Less Traveled 192
63 The Rat That Sparked an Expansion Team 195
64 The First Playoff Party Followed a Critical Loss 198
65 Kariya's Recruiting Helped Build a Juggernaut 201
66 We Promise It Never Snows in Nashville…Oops 204
67 A Predators Leprechaun Sported the Beard of Beards 207
68 David Poile Won't Fall in Love with His Team 209
69 Dealing Dunham: The Preds' First Blockbuster Trade 212
70 A Hometown Hero with a Hall of Fame Pedigree 215
71 They Overlooked Kimmo Timonen in More Ways Than One 219
72 Take a Ride Down the Honky Tonk Highway 222
73 A Tiny Swede Made a Huge Leap 225
74 Music First Sold Hockey in Music City 227
75 An Afterthought Turned into an All-Star 230
76 The First Captain Set a High Bar 234
77 The Predators' Most Hardcore Fans Showed Their Soft Side 237
78 Doubling Down on Leadership at the Top 240
79 Scott Walker Was the Predators' Expansion Poster Boy 243
80 Gaudreau Was a Stanley Cup Star Without a Locker 246
81 Nobody Hit the Reset Button Like Playoff Colin Wilson 249
82 Cody McLeod Punched a Friend to Show His Loyalty 252
83 Backdoor Bubba Was Destined for Nashville 254
84 The Finns Never Fought 257
85 Nashville Built a Blue Line with Just One Draft 259
86 Plenty of Original Predators Never Saw Nashville 263
87 Punchers Found a Home with the Predators 266
88 Trading a Top Scorer for a Recovering Drug Addict 270
89 A Glorious Tradition of Firing Up Nashville's Fans 273
90 John Scott Was Nashville's All-Star of All-Stars 276
91 Bill Houlder Loved His Harley and His Pillow 280
92 Harry Z's Long Wait Finally Paid Off 283
93 Check Out the Growth of Nashville's Ice Age 286
94 Brendan Witt Made a Ferocious First Impression 288
95 So Many Swiss in a Single Spot 291
96 Make a Road Trip to See This Predators Rival 294
97 Barry Trotz Left a Nashville Legacy off the Ice 297
98 The Preds' First Shootout Was a Real Showstopper 299
99 Quirks and Superstitions Welcome Here 302
100 The Most Beloved Pred Has Never Skated 305