Hockey and Music Make Harmony in Nashville

The Nashville Predators have a deep-rooted relationship with music, after all, it is called “Music City”. On Tuesday, July 14, 2020, former Predators goaltender and current colour commentator, Chris Mason was joined by Slipknot drummer Jay Weinberg in a live stream interview. The interview is the latest connection between the Preds and their town’s most famous industry.

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Nashville, Tennessee is the unofficial country music capital of the world. Hockey aside, whenever you hear “Nashville”, your first thoughts probably consist of cowboy hats, guitars and Carrie Underwood. That’s because, before 1998, country stars were the ones selling out arenas. Here’s a brief recap of the relationship between hockey and music in Nashville.

Tim McGraw and the Preds’ Goal Song

When the red light flashes behind the opposing net, who is the first person fans hear? Country icon Tim McGraw. Of course, every team has a goal song, but the Predators collaborated with McGraw on his hit song “I Like It, I Love It” to create a personalized version of the track, 

“I like it, I love it, I want some more of it. 

I try so hard, I can’t rise above it. 

Don’t know what it is ‘bout the Predators scoring … but 

I like it, I love it, I want some more of it.”

The song can electrify an already frenzied BridgestoneArena. The song is always followed by a thunderous “Hey, You Suck!” as well as taunts that are hurled at the away team’s netminder. McGraw has also been seen pumping up the crowd in between whistles and periods at the rink. Most notably, before Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final in 2017, he was brought down to ice level along with Grammy-winner Faith Hill to rally the crowd in the biggest must-win game in franchise history. Maybe if Carrie Underwood had sung the anthem for this game, the boys would have pulled through with a victory. 

Holy Matrimony

On July 10, 2010, the Predators unofficially acquired the player who would become the 7th team captain in franchise history. What’s the significance of this date? It’s the day that country sensation Carrie Underwood and Mike Fisher were married. The two became the hottest topic in the headlines as Fisher accompanied her to award shows and events. However, with the wife in Nashville and Fisher in Ottawa playing for the Senators, the two celebs barely ever saw each other. Fortunately for the newlyweds, Underwood’s prayers were answered when the Predators acquired the 31-year-old center via trade in February of  2011.

Fisher finished his career in Smashville after seven and a half seasons. In 429 games with the team, he recorded 241 points, and after Shea Weber was traded in 2016, Fisher was awarded the captaincy. The Peterborough, Ontario native, who was already an established player, was a fine addition to the club. From his leadership in the dressing room to his heavy play on the puck, he was an asset to the team.

Mike Fisher Nashville Predators
Mike Fisher (Andy Martin Jr.)

Who do the Predators have to thank for their favorite former captain? Technically Underwood’s bass player Mark Childers introduced the two, but essentially, she did most of the work. Thanks, Carrie Underwood.  

Rebranding in 2011-2012

The Predators’ marketing team hit this note. It is imperative that a team associates the culture of the city in their jersey concept and the overall aesthetic of the team. From the time the team broke into the league until the 2011-12 season, the organization’s focus was the native sabretooth tiger. That’s all well and good, incorporating a fierce animal into a team’s look is intimidating. However, the Predators almost fully rebranded in the fall of 2011. The colours roughly stayed the same, but what we saw was a much flashier blue and gold. 

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The gold became the primary team colour (previously it was the third colour and navy blue was the first). However, it was the details that caught the eyes of many. The team managed to represent the musical culture of the city was significant with a second logo on the shoulder of the jersey. The patch is shaped like a guitar pick with the famous three stars representing the “Grand Divisions” of Tennessee.

In addition to the new logo, piano keys line the inside collar of the jersey which is pretty nifty. The branding team also added guitar strings that run across the middle of the jersey numbers. Aside from the Adidas deal that replaced Reebok in manufacturing the NHL’s jerseys, the Preds’ jerseys have remained relatively the same since.

Illustration by Andrew M. Greenstein, (The unofficial NHL Uniform Database)

Notable Anthem Singers

Over the years, the Predators have had no shortage of stars perform the national anthem at Bridgestone Arena. NHL analyst Ray Ferraro pointed this out in EA Sports NHL 20 saying that the city has the most varied lineup of singers in the league. Until the end of the 2016-17 season, Denis K. Morgan was the primary singer under contract, spending 17 years with the team. He performed more than 185 times in front of the crowd at Bridgestone. Here’s a brief list (in no particular order) of some of the biggest stars to perform: Luke Bryan, Mindy McCready, Dierks Bentley, Oak Ridge Boys, Sheryl Crow, Trisha Yearwood, Kieth Urban, Brad Paisley, Rascal Flatts, Kelly Clarkson, Faith Hill, Charlie Daniels, Lady A (formally Lady Antebellum) and of course Underwood.

Nashville provides a star-studded lineup of musicians. Typically, the team will bring out the big guns in extended playoff runs or must-win games. The 2017 run featured big-time acts like Luke Bryan, Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood and Dierks Bentley. Sometimes these musicians offer pre, post or intermission shows in an effort to rally or celebrate the team. 

These examples are only a small taste of how the Predators and the music community go hand-in-hand. 2019 Best Drummer In the World award winner Jay Weinberg has joined forces with the team via Best Buddies charity organization. Their goal is to raise money to foster friendships with intellectually disabled youth. Could this mean the mighty Slipknot will be the next musical group to perform the anthem? Maybe a Corey Taylor and Carrie Underwood duet?