“Wait, we’re putting an NHL team there!?”- everyone circa 1998. That bizarre idea has transformed into a wildly successful reality displayed for the hockey world to witness this past weekend. Natives and past visitors knew Nashville could throw a party, but All-Star weekend created a platform for the NHL community to experience how hockey has planted a strong foothold in the city.
Ice hockey and live country music intertwined for an atmosphere that will likely never be duplicated. A true opposites attract story.
From an outsider’s point of view, professional hockey in Nashville makes as much sense as John Scott in the All-Star game. And that’s why the heartwarming story of Scott was so easily embraced by the fans in Nashville. There used to getting behind an underdog story. @jrlind summed it up perfectly on Twitter.
“John Scott-who was told he didn’t ‘deserve’ to be an All-Star- gets ovation in a city that was told for years it didn’t ‘deserve’ the NHL.”
The resounding cheers at Scott’s introduction and throughout the weekend described everything Nashville is about.
The “ONE MORE SHOT” roars for Shea Weber were so deafening the skills competition had no other choice but to give the fans what they wanted. Did the booing of Patrick Kane go too far? Perhaps. But can you question the passion of the fanbase? Not for a second.
By all accounts, the entire All-Star weekend was huge success. So, what does it all mean? The obvious repercussion will place the city on the short list for a return visit of the All-Star game. That much is for certain.
Some pondered if this type of event can boost Nashville up the list of desired free agent landing spots. That’s hard to say, but the past weekend did nothing but help that cause. You couldn’t find a player who had negative words about the city and the experience. It’s not far fetched for a player to ponder the dedicated fans, no state income tax, and the abundance of options for a good time throughout the city.
The allure and tradition of the northeast markets will never be overcome by Nashville. That shouldn’t be the goal. Doing what you do best as a team and a city is what makes you the most effective. The most important recruiting tool will always be winning at a high level for a continuous amount of time.
Even more than just attracting free agents in future summers, the respect gained for Nashville as a legitimate hockey city is the real prize. The crowds from the player red carpet arrivals to the MVP trophy presentation and every event in between were packed with Predators fans wanting to express their love and admiration for the game that entered their city just 18 years ago.
Everyone else noticed this type of fandom, too.
The Nashville Predators will never be put in the category of a “traditional” market. The aspects of Music City sprinkled through everything the franchise does makes it a special and unique place. After this past weekend, I don’t think anyone would want it any other way.