Puck Daddy's Summer Series: The Nashville Predators from A to Z

Puck Daddy's Summer Series: The Nashville Predators from A to Z

(Ed. Note: August is known to be a very quiet month in the hockey world. As we wait for September to arrive and training camps to begin, let’s learn a little history about all 30 teams. Behold, our summer A-Z series, in which we ask fans of all 30 teams to drop some knowledge on us! Add your own choices in the comments!)

By: Caroline Davis, frame-by-frame analyst for On The Forecheck

A. Anaheim Ducks

Nashville earned their very first Stanley Cup Playoffs series win over Anaheim. It was a huge series for Nashville and marked several franchise milestones, two of which were captured in a “History Will Be Made” commercial: first OT win and first Game 5 win.

When the teams returned to Nashville for Game 6, David Legwand drove the final nail into the coffin and the fans blasted the roof off the Bridgestone Arena.

B. Balsillie, Jim

The Predators Almost Move to Another City: Part I.

Balsillie really, really wanted an NHL team in Hamilton, ON and in 2007 he made a move for Nashville. While still working on a deal with then-owner Craig Leopold, Balsillie violated league procedure by attempting to make money off of the team (which he didn’t even own yet) by taking deposits on season tickets for the “Hamilton Predators”. Leopold backed out before the sale was finalized.

C. Catfish

During particularly noteworthy games, catfish are sometimes thrown on the ice.

It’s Nashville’s equivalent of Detroit’s octopus and, initially, was indeed directed at the large number of Red Wings fans living in the greater Nashville area (see: P is for PredWing).

D. Del Biaggio, William “Boots”

The Predators Almost Move to Another City: Part II.

Del Biaggio
Del Biaggio

Del Biaggio was a member of a large Tennessee-based group who purchased the Preds from Craig Leipold in July 2007. Like Balsillie, Del Biaggio hoped to relocate the team – this time to Kansas City, MO. After filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2008, it was discovered that Del Biaggio had acquired the funds for his stake in the ownership of the team illegally. (Apparently he also tried to sell his ownership stake to none other than Jim Freakin’ Balsillie at the last minute to avoid bankruptcy. Yikes.)

E. Erat, Martin

Erat was Nashville’s 1999 7th round pick. He played in Nashville for 10 and a half years and was one of our most consistent players, earning between 50-60 points for eight straight years.

In 2012-2013, Erat spoke with GM David Poile about the future of the Predators and asked for a trade to avoid going through a rebuild. Thus, Martin Erat and Michael Latta were traded to the Washington Capitals for their 11th overall pick, Filip Forsberg, in one of the most hilariously lopsided trades in recent history.

F. Fire-Sale of 2007

This was the “indirect” result of the attempts by several potential buyers to move the Preds out of Nashville, leaving the team seriously unstable and on a tight budget (owner Craig Leipold told Poile to cut the payroll from $40 million to $34 million – that year’s cap floor). That off-season, the Predators were forced to part ways with the following players: Scott Hartnell and Kimmo Timonen (to Philly for one 1st round pick), Paul Kariya (UFA), Peter Forsberg (UFA), and Tomas Vokoun (to Florida for a 1st, 2nd, and conditional 2nd). That was a tough, tough year.

G. General Manager David Poile

David Poile has been the only GM in the history of the Nashville Predators. He is best known and respected for maintaining a surprisingly and consistently competitive young team in a non-traditional market while on a shoestring budget for years on end.

Last year, a pass from Shea Weber’s stick took a funny deflection and headed down the tunnel where Poile was standing and hit him square in the eye. He’s doing much better now.

H. Head Coach Peter Laviolette

Lavy is only the second head coach in Nashville Predators history. After one season under his belt, he has become a fan favorite due to his offensively-driven games, something very new and different to Predators fans!

I. Ice Age

The Preds saber-toothed tiger logo and mascot were designed around the fossils of a saber-toothed tiger that was found in a cave below the building’s address in 1971. Test results suggested that the tiger had been alive during the last glacial period (anywhere 15,000-80,000 years ago) and that the cave was his den.

J. Josi, Roman

The newer, younger, better Ryan Suter.

When Ryan Suter was 25 years old, he was in his 5th season with Nashville, played in 82 games, and had 4 goals, 33 assists, and 37 points. When Roman Josi was 25 years old, he was in his 4th season with Nashville, played in 81 games, and had 15 goals, 40 assists, and 55 points. Suter has never had more than 46 points despite playing twice as long as Josi.

mic drop
mic drop

K. Kariya, Paul

Paul was the first truly famous player to play for the Predators when he signed on August 5, 2005. His unbelievable speed and natural offensive skills made him adored by Predators fans. His impact on the team was enough to support the Predators into two post-season appearances. Kariya also set a large number of franchise records for the Predators – most of which have been broken. Two records still stand almost decade later: number of assists (54) and number of points (85) recorded in a single season (2005-2006).

L. Legwand, David

Legwand was the Preds first draft pick in 1998 (2nd overall). He spent 15 seasons in Nashville and, I feel, is a possible candidate for Nashville’s first retired number. He was a very divisive player for many years, with fans either absolutely loving or hating him.

Fun Fact: He and Martin Erat are the only two Preds to successfully complete a David Legwand Hat Trick, which is a goal, an assist, and a baby (11-22-09 for Legwand, 02-24-12 for Erat).

M. Mustard

The Predators original attempt at creating a pleasant gold-type color jersey that didn’t go very well. I actually own one of these jerseys, and I have to say that it is the heaviest, thickest jersey I’ve ever worn. The players must have been dying out there in these literal sweaters.

N. Nolan Trotz

N could be for Nashville, but I’d like to switch it up a bit… N is for ex-HC Barry Trotz’s son Nolan, who has Down Syndrome. He once joined his father for a post-game conference that was one of the most touching and personal moments of Trotz’s time in Nashville.

O. Our Team Nashville

The Predators Almost Move to Another City: Part III.

Our Team Nashville was a group of local business owners who united thousands of fans for a rally during the 2007 off-season to purchase enough season tickets meet required attendance figures for the upcoming season and save the team from being relocated. About 7,500 fans showed up to support the team and over 700 season tickets (full or packages) were purchased – enough to guarantee the necessary attendance figures keep the team in Nashville for at least one more year.

P. PredWing Fans

PredWings are a rapidly diminishing subgroup of the fan base. They consist of Detroit and Michigan natives who relocated to the greater Nashville area due to the growing auto manufacturing industry (Saturn; more recently, Nissan). Many of them happily adopted the Preds, but regressed to wearing their Red Wings jerseys whenever Detroit came to play and filled the building with thousands of red jerseys. This is the reason for the rather-one-sided “Nashville-Detroit” rivalry that many fans of other NHL teams don’t understand.

Q. Quitting of a Shift

Not every NHL fan may remember this one, but it’s a moment that is certainly burned into the minds of many Predators fans. In 2013 Nashville was playing in Edmonton and the score was 1-1 with about nine minutes left in the third. The Predators were in the Oilers’ zone and someone tried to zip a pass across to Sergei Kostitsyn, who was alone just inside the blue line. The pass bounced over his stick and past him and began making its way through the neutral zone. Kostitsyn started to chase it down… and then he just decided to quit his shift and get off the ice. They scored, of course. I’ve never seen Barry Trotz more irate in my life.

R. Ryan Suter

He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named could have left Nashville much more peacefully than he did. Instead, he swore up and down he wanted to be here, then hinted that he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do, but then stuck around at the deadline to see what Poile would do to our offense to make a run for the Cup (this was the year Radulov came back), and then he told David Poile that he would at least give him a chance to match any offers he received. Then he called Poile to tell him that he was signing with Minnesota. It’s not that he left; we knew it was a stretch to try to keep Rinne and Weber and Suter. It’s how he left; and he’s gonna get booed for the rest of his career because of it, which is fine with me.

S. Section 303

Section 303 is a section of the Bridgestone Arena that was originally occupied on October 10, 1998 by former Nashville Knights fans who created loud choruses to support an expansion team composed of cast-offs and could-bes and have since defined the Predator Fan. Section303.com has a useful list of chants used during the Predators home game.

T. Trotz, Barry

Barry Trotz was Nashville’s first coach. He signed with the expansion team on August 6, 1997 and stayed until June 30, 2014 when David Poile let his contract expire.

Trotz was the longest-tenured active coach with a single team from February 20, 2013 to June 30, 2014. He had never coached in the NHL before signing with the Predators and did a remarkable job with the cards he was handed, taking a rag-tag group of unwanted and aging NHLers and turning them into a consistently competitive hockey team, much to the annual surprise of NHL analysts. He finished fourth for the Jack Adams in 2007 and was a finalist for in 2010. He is an active contender in several coaching categories, including regular season games coached (all-time: 13th, active: 4th) and regular season coaching wins (all-time: 13th, active: 4th).

At the time of Trotz’s firing, many fans were ready for a new face behind the bench, but no one could deny how emotional that press conference was. When Barry returned to Nashville with the Caps, he received a standing ovation and was seen wiping an eye after the tribute video.

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U. “[Carrie] Underwood’s Husband Acquired By Nashville Predators”

An actual headline from The Tennessean when the Preds acquired Mike Fisher from Ottawa. I’d like to think we’ve come a long way since then, but such are the troubles of being in a non-traditional market…

V. Vince Gill

Vince Gill
Vince Gill

Singers Vince Gill, and wife, Amy Grant, have been season ticket holders since the Predators inaugural season. Vince grew up in Oklahoma City and often went to (now defunct) Oklahoma City Blazers games as a child, where he watched long-time Predators commentator, and past Calgary Flames coach, Terry Crisp, play.

Vince has performed on the band stage during intermissions and he has also sang the national anthem during the playoffs. Vince has been fiercely involved with the Predators and their community service work and was named to the Nashville Predators Foundation Board of Directors in 2014.

W. Weber, Shea

Everyone knows Shea Weber. He was selected 49th overall in the 2003 entry draft – arguably one of the best draft years in recent history. Shea Weber is best known for four things.

First: His slap shot. It was clocked at 108.5 mph in 2015. It put a puck through the net during the 2010 Olympics.

It almost killed Chris Osgood.

It has broken teammates’ bones during practices. It put a puck through the boards once too. I suggest getting out of his way when he winds up.

Second: Smashing Henrik Zetterberg’s helmet into the boards during the 2012 playoffs. His temper doesn’t get riled up often, but when it does… he is a scary man.

Third: Signing an offer sheet with Philadelphia. Poile repeatedly told Weber that he would match any offer he received, so Weber knew what was going to happen. Philly tried to break the Nashville bank, but ownership stepped up and Weber stayed – and got a ridiculous (but well-deserved) pay-day.

Fourth: No Norris Trophy. Always the groomsman and never the groom… Most notably, Weber has had two second-place finishes and one third-place finish despite having some phenomenal seasons that were truly worthy of recognition. He’s gotta get one eventually, right? Maybe this is the year…

X. X-rays for Gnash

Preds mascot Gnash broke his leg last September, but instead of hiding him away until he healed, the organization put him on IR until he was ready to get back in the game and created the hilarious hashtag #GnashDown, which led to some great responses, including this one from San Jose’s Sharkie:

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Y. Yachmenev, Vitali

Since we have such a short history and I can’t think of anything else that starts with Y, here’s a random throw back to a player from our inaugural season!

Yachmenev played for Nashville for five years before returning to Russia. He was a middling to mediocre player, but hey – it’s not like the expansion draft gives you lots of super-high-quality options. He did well for us, considering how absolutely terrible we were.

Z. Zebra

I respect refs (I honestly, really do), but sometime… man.

Like this one time, in Colorado, when Matt Duchene scored a goal after being approximately 3 miles offside. Not a single Predator had a clue why the whistle wasn’t blown, including Barry Trotz. It turned out that the ref thought he had seen Craig Smith kick the puck into his own zone, which would have negated Duchene being offside and therefore have made it a good goal. What actually happened was that Scott Hannan and Craig Smith were both in the way of a pass from Paranteau to Duchene and it bounced off both players.

Because of this goal, I have been advocating for a coach’s challenge since 2013 and I am so pleased that we will finally have one next year!

Meet the author: Caroline Davis is the Frame-by-Frame analyst for SB Nation’s On the Forecheck. She has played hockey for 18 years and coached briefly while living in Boston. She is now in Connecticut living the dream of playing pond hockey with her boyfriend in their backyard. Follow her on Twitter @carolianne_

Previous A to Z Guides: Anaheim | Arizona | Boston | Buffalo | Calgary | Carolina | Chicago | Colorado | Columbus | Dallas | Detroit | Edmonton | Florida | Los Angeles | Minnesota | Montreal