by Jas Faulkner, Nashville Correspondent
Last but certainly not least in this section devoted to the Predators Roster are the centers. Flanked by the hottest wings in the NHL, these seven men face off against some of the toughest players on the continent. Some of them are figurative places of calm in the eyes of the storms their lines can generate, others are breakout personalities who can be depended upon to ramp up the game. Time to meet The Glare, The Showman, Karma’s Favorite Son, The Last of the First Gen and the rest of Nashville’s center corps.
Marcel Goc One of the sweetest moments last season was seeing Goc get his first goal as a Predator against his old team in San Jose. It wasn’t about revenge. There was no point to be proven. It was a confluence of the right thing happening at right place and the right time asserting to the hockey cosmos that Goc’s move to Nashville did not constitute relegation to The Island of Misfit Toys. It was sports karma at its best. 2009/2010 saw him hit some career highs in Nashville. Don’t count on his numbers staying where they are now. He’s raised the bar, so look for even greater things from him this year.
David Legwand Legwand was Nashville’s first draft pick. Ever. As the remaining First Gen Predator, he still leads the team both in numbers and as part of the group when the blades meet the ice. At 30, he is hitting his prime as a player. During team practice earlier this month, he and Sullivan were the undisputed leaders. He can be remarkably centered during game time, a perfect fit for a team where there’s room for everything but ego. On a personal note, he’s on my short list of players I want to see hoist the cup at least once. This year looks good.
Matthew Lombardi One of David Poile’s summer acquisitions, Lombardi’s inclusion in the Pride was the cause of quite a bit of excitement in Nashville and no small amount of consternation in Phoenix. His stats show this former Desert Dog turned Big Toothy Cat has a lot to offer.
Jamie Lundmark Poile may very disprove that old saying about lightning striking twice when he took Lundmark away from the Maple Leafs earlier this year. From Original Six to a part of the Sunbelt Experiment, word is that Lundmark is adjusting quite well down here in the land of sunshine and deep-fried musical turpitude.
Cal O’Reilly O’Reilly spent the last two seasons dancing the Admirals/Big Cats shuffle between Nashville and Milwaukee. The Predators official website referred to his last recall north as his “fourth and final”. We’re holding them to their word on this. O’Reilly has proven he’s worthy of a permanent place at the Den. It’s time.
Jerred Smithson When I showed my nephew, Cory, a picture of Smithson on the bench, his first response was, “He needs a hug.” The patented Smithson Death Glare followed everything from stints in the Sin Bin to celebrations after lighting the lantern. He made it clear he was out there to win, or at least leave the opposing team with some lingering awareness that they’d spent some time on the ice with the Predators. It wasn’t all for show or to teach lessons, though. He hit a couple of career highs in 09/10. That should give him something to smile about.
2009-2010 SEASON STATISTICS
Colin Wilson Even when the Boys in Black and Blue are wearing practice jerseys, its easy to pick Wilson out in the crowd. He’s the one playing “Follow the Bouncing Puck” as he defies gravity by continually bouncing a puck on the blade of his stick while waiting for things to get underway. All of this is cute and fun and it makes him a standout when the puck isn’t in play. When it is? This legacy NHL player who was a first round pick for Poile and company during the 2008 draft garnered kudos as a rookie of the month and more than a little respect for his performance come playoff time.
2009-2010 SEASON STATISTICS
And now you’ve met your Nashville Predators!
Coming up soon…Meet Nashville’s best hockey bloggers! After that, we’ll chat with some of the people who call the games for fans online and on the air.