Many myths and legends surround the creation and celebration of American Thanksgiving. However, one of the things that is usually recognized about the holiday is that it is a day to give thanks for all of the good things in our lives. For some people like myself, being away from any sports arena for almost the past two years has just intensified the feeling of thankfulness for everything that makes up the NHL and the Nashville Predators.
On its website, Bridgestone Arena boasts that it is a two-time winner of the Arena of the Year award, and heading back there after the hiatus has reinforced the notion that it truly deserved the award. My wife, the harshest critic of food and drink, made her first trip there and was thoroughly impressed by the choices and quality of the food and drink she selected. Very high praise from the woman who watches almost every Food Network cooking competition and believes she is qualified to be a judge. In addition to this, the overall atmosphere of the arena, combined with some outstanding music during intermissions (my wife called it “crazy good”), truly makes it one of the better arenas in all sports.
The popular real estate phrase “location, location, location” can also be applied to the ambiance of Bridgestone Arena. When leaving other hockey arenas after a game, you are sometimes greeted with ho-hum atmospheres. Being located so close to Broadway allows a person to extend the game and arena experience just a little more, as we found out after our first game back. Our only issue with this was finding a place where there was no long wait to get in.
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The arena’s location also allows one to explore Broadway easily before the game. In addition to the many activities that go on at the arena, this combination allows for a great experience. On our return to the arena, we were fortunate to see a talented young musician named Noah Garner play at Johnny Cash’s Bar & BBQ before heading in, thus setting the stage for a great game experience.
While this may truly be a case of “absence makes the heart grow fonder” due to a pandemic-caused hiatus, seeing Roman Josi and the Predators play at Bridgestone Arena is something that we are truly thankful for experiencing once again.
A Really Good Goal Song
Not all goal songs are created equal. If you are so inclined, find a video on YouTube that plays all of them, and then you will come to appreciate Tim McGraw’s “I Like It, I Love it” even more. Besides making a direct connection to Nashville’s country roots, the song is just really good, and it annoys opponents’ fans who happen to make the trek to Smashville. At a recent game, one opponent’s fan stated, with a few expletives deleted, “This song is really getting on my nerves.”
The NHL for Ignoring Naysayers
Following the lead of NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, this group awarded franchises in June of 1997 to Nashville, Columbus, Atlanta, and Minneapolis–Saint Paul. After fulfilling the requirement of selling 12,000 season tickets, the team began to play in 1998. The thankful part is that the league went against some traditionalists who felt that NHL hockey would not succeed in the southern part of the United States. This was a familiar sentiment when places such as Dallas, Tampa Bay, and Carolina were awarded franchises. There was also widespread cheer and glee among some hockey purists when Winnipeg took over the Atlanta franchise.
Examples of this sentiment still linger today. The most recent comment about “southern hockey” made by a sports pundit came last May when ESPN’s Michael Wilbon commented on the Tampa Bay Lightning-Toronto Maple Leafs playoff series on his Pardon the Interruption show saying, “I’m rooting for Toronto, I’m not rooting for some SEC hockey team,” before doubling down on the sentiment stating that “they are waiting for spring football, they don’t give a damn about hockey.” Fortunately, and thankfully, the NHL had the foresight to ignore traditionalists who cringe at southern hockey and place a franchise in Nashville, which has developed into one of the more passionate fan bases in the NHL.
November is the time to be thankful, a time to remember and embrace anyone and anything that can enrich our lives. Being a family means you are part of something very wonderful. This not only includes those around you, but also a larger family of NHL and Predators fans and followers. While being thankful for all of the good things your favorite hockey team brings to you, it is our hope that the good things of life be yours in abundance not only at Thanksgiving but throughout the coming year.
Jim Bay writes about the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Nashville Predators for THW. A retired Special Education Teacher, Jim enjoys writing about hockey and all sports when he is not slashing his way around local golf courses. For interview requests or to provide content info, follow Jim on Twitter. (https://twitter.com/baysports007)