ROAD TRIP | Preds lose in shootout, get shutout
The real purpose of the trip earlier this week was business, but I was able to sandwich the newspaper stuff in between a couple of much more enjoyable treats: a pair of Nashville Predators hockey games.
It’s the fourth straight season I’ve hit the road to see former Carolina Hurricane Martin Gelinas (above right, #23), who plays for the Predators. Nashville lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in a shootout Sunday night but won 3-0 Tuesday over the Calgary Flames behind Chris Mason’s shutout and great energy from the Predators, including Marty, who had five shots on goal and an assist. It was a great trip and always a pleasure to spend time around Marty and his wonderful wife, Jane, and their kids, plus Jane’s mom, Judy, who was visiting from Calgary. Judy’s a real hoot and she knows as much about hockey as anyone; in fact, her brother-in-law, Bill Hay, is chairman of the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Nashville is music city, of course, and the Predators organization does in-game entertainment right, with local singing sensations doing the anthems before the games and signed bands performing during intermission. The team – like the Hurricanes, in their 10th season – has struggled with attendance and ownership issues, but they put on a good show. They’ve struggled a bit in the standings this year as well, but they’ve got a lot of talent and, like the Canes, if goaltending is good, they’ve got a great chance to make the playoffs.
Marty’s in his 19th NHL season, which is extremely rare. Fewer than 60 NHL players in the league’s history have played more than his 1,250 (and counting) career NHL games, and if he stays healthy he’ll be in the top 50 by the end of this season. He’s got a one-year contract with Nashville but hopefully can extend that and finish his career there.
Nashville doesn’t play in Carolina this season, so I’m planning a return trip with some family members for later in the year just in case this is Marty’s last year. Hopefully, it won’t be…