Life as a Preds Fan: A Simple Man’s Musings

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As I ponder what to do with my life now that hockey season has ended in Nashville, it appears blatantly obvious to me what Nashville Predators hockey means: Family. The friends we made along the way, and the players we grew attached to. The running theme all season and throughout the playoffs has had a strong tie with “Family.” Smashville is not just a marketing slogan, it is a place where we, as Predators fans, congregate to cheer on our boys to victory. “Stand With Us” was a campaign that followed on what the Preds faithful first enacted on April 3, 2008 with their signature standing ovation meant to bring all fans together for the team, and did we ever come together in support of our team.

This was by far the greatest season in Predators history; not just because of the playoff run, but also in terms of the fan base showing strong support. Sixteen sold-out games during the regular season, and there was never any doubt that all six home playoff games would sell out. Not only did the leadership in the Predators’ front office show commitment to the fans, but the fans also returned the favor by coming out in droves for the plaza parties and games. There was definitely a different feel inside and outside of Bridgestone Arena this year. The team was playing with a chip on their shoulder. The fans were cheering with a chip on their shoulder. The team delivered many firsts during these playoffs with their first series victory in the Stanley Cup Playoffs standing out the most. What this series victory and the hard fought series against Vancouver has done to the fan base is almost beyond description.

Needless to say, this organization’s fan-base has grown by leaps and bounds just in the past month. Many folks have now caught hockey fever. How many of you have personally been able to turn your family or friends into hockey fans? It is easy to do when you have a team that works hard, an organization that is committed to the fans, and a game-operations team providing entertainment that is un-matched to any other arena.  At Bridgestone Arena, we all come together for a common purpose. We are a family. A hockey family.  Along those lines, how many of you have had hockey friends turn in to a friend for life? The Predators just have this affect on people.  When you bring people together that are encompassed with a team, one is bound to make friends along the way. Who would ever expect to make friends that you actually want to see in the off-season? Thanks to the Nashville Predators, and with a little help from Twitter, I can say that I have met such people.

Fans from all walks of life came together this season. We stuck with the team through the good times and the solemn times of November and February. We witnessed Tennessee’s own Blake Geoffrion play in his home state. Yes, we “rednecks” play hockey too.  We witnessed young guns stepping up in place of injured vets. We witnessed an amazing comeback win over San Jose in December as severe winter weather threatened driving conditions. Who would not want to see these events with their own eyes?

What does it mean to become a fan of the Nashville Predators? It means that you want to become a part of something bigger than yourself. You want to be part of “the family.”  I could feel the embers beginning to catch fire in the casual fan-base this year as the Predators began their run to the playoffs and into the playoffs.  People wanted to go to the games, not just to be around friends, but also to witness history. It means that you get to the arena 45 minutes before puck drop so you can cheer on your team during warm-ups…or happily taunt the opposition.  It means that you invest your time and money into something that is always a roller coaster of emotions; and every time you get back in line to enjoy the ride.

Therefore, as the team has stated, I invite you to become a citizen of Smashville and get ready for next season. This time we only have to wait four months until the preseason. And so, as others have stated before me, SUMMER SUCKS, DROP THE PUCK.

7 Comments

  1. Amber =)

    May 11, 2011 at 9:45 am

    As Justin’s “friend in real life,” I can attest to his Predators fever! He is one of the most supportive (and rabid…ha) fans I have ever seen! This is a great posting, Justin. Keep up the good work!

  2. duTiFul

    May 11, 2011 at 9:48 am

    Have had at least 3 people come up to me at my bar last night said something along the lines of “I never thought I’d say this, but I’m having hockey withdrawals”. These are statements coming from people who have never watched a game until our little playoff rush towards the end of the season.

    I LOVE IT!

  3. Sean Bremner

    May 11, 2011 at 9:51 am

    Great article, the wife and I moved here in May of 2010, so it was fun, and a real honour to get to be a part of this season and to join the family!

  4. Dom

    May 11, 2011 at 9:58 am

    I most certainly miss being a part of the Bridgestone experience. I’m off at college – coming home to Nashville today, in fact – nearer to Red Wings territory than anywhere else. Saw the Preds’ first game at the Joe, and I think it’s safe to say that even in Detroit the entertainment aspect and the closeness of the fans wound up nowhere close to what we have in Smashville. Wish the boys were still going so that I could catch some non-streamed playoff action myself, but there’s always next year.

  5. Becky

    May 11, 2011 at 10:04 am

    Well said. Hockey brings people together like no other sport, and there’s nothing better than a hockey family.
    We appreciate the team so much and all that they do in our community and the way that they act off of the ice (Of course we like the way that they play on the ice too!)
    I can’t wait to cheer them on at their first game of the next season and see what it has in store.
    The longer you go into playoffs, the shorter the time until the puck drops again. Summer sucks…Drop the Puck!

  6. Greg Cyphers

    May 11, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    Well said. Being part of the Predators family is a great feeling. I grew up, and still am, a huge sports fan. i spent the first 18yrs of my life in Michigan and never took to hockey. The wings didn’t get much publicity because at that time they weren’t very good and the Tigers and Pistons were, plus the Lions had the amazing Barry Sanders. I also never played hockey. I have lived the next 18yrs of my life here in middle Tennessee and plan on staying here. The first hockey game my wife and I ever attended, was Steve Sullivan’s first game as a Predator. He dropped a hat trick, the fans were loud and boisterous and we were hooked. We have continued attending games and supporting “our” Preds. Even after we had our son we went to many games and by the time he was four years old he had been to more than 20gms. Then we were unable to go to games for a while (watched on tv, of course) but returned this season, Dec. 23 against Ottawa. Just my son and I went, i planned on getting tickets from one of the scalpers on the corner. I was hesitant to buy and as we stood there a man came up and GAVE us his tickets that he wasn’t going to use, center ice 10 rows from the penalty box ( awesome). Since that game, my son has become a rabid Predators and Rinne fan (he didn’t remember the games he had been to) and we attended many more games, including all of the playoff games. I built a hockey goal for him, bought him a used stick and a helmet and he plays in the basement every day. He saved his money and bought some gloves and just the other day, spotted a gatorade bottle just like the goalies use and had to have it. We went to greet the team at the airport, getting a high five from Pekka was the highlight for him. It is so cool to see my son finding his own hero’s and i’m very glad that they come from the Nashville Predators. I know he isn’t the only child to have fallen in love with our Preds. He took part in the G.O.A.L. program, which teaches kids how to play hockey for free and all of the kids had fun. He and all of these other kids are going to grow up loving hockey, our fan base is only going to get bigger and stronger. Sorry for rambling, thanks for reading though. My family says, SUMMER SUCKS….DROP THE PUCK!

  7. PredsFan615

    May 12, 2011 at 10:50 am

    Mucho bueno, Justin.