Somehow or other we find ourselves in Nashville, home of the Predators, Shea Weber and apple pie moonshine. You could call apple pie moonshine a predator too as when we were all drinking it out of mason jars last night at 230 in the morning it succeeded in killing my night in spectacular fashion.
The arena district here is amazing. Directly across the street is a strip of honky tonk bars. Every single joint has a stage and every stage has an amazing singer who plays for an hour and then is replaced by another amazing singer and on and on it goes. And despite the entire area looking like something out of a Waylon Jennings album cover they love their hockey here.
This is a non traditional American hockey market that has worked plain and simple. And from talking with locals a lot of it has to do with the fact that the arena is in the centre of the action. If the team had put the building on the outskirts of town attendance would be much lower they told us. But because it is smack dab in the centre of the bar district people can’t help but hear about the team, interact with fans and ultimately end up watching the Predators themselves.
When we told people we are from Edmonton one chap immediately said "How is Dubnyk as a goalie?" We didn’t have the heart to tell him the answer was "super tall and if people shoot high on him shaky" so we just said "oh fine. Knowing our luck he will win the Vezina here."
Saturday night we are going to go to the Avalanche-Predators game. Maybe we see Dubie2.0 unveiled. Maybe he is the same guy we saw on so many nights. Either way we will report back. Unless we cross paths with Apple Pie Moonshine again. Then all bets are off.
In a city whose sports teams are chronically short of leadership it is worth noting that the Edmonton Rush are retiring the jersey of Jimmy Quinlan tonight at Rexall Place. The guy is a legend. Second leading scorer in team history. Missed only one game out of 134. Captain. A basher. An all around class act. Gregor has ranted and raved about Quinlan to me for as long as I have known him.
If the Oilers could invent some sort of heart transplanting device and put Quinlan’s drive, commitment and compete into a few fellas on their roster they would be immediately a lot better on the ice. Good luck in retirement Jimmy. You were a heck of a player.