Category Archives: Nashville Predators News

Avidusen is rewarded by the “predator” and worked hard

Viktor Arvidsson
Viktor Arvidsson is commonly known as The Woodpecker from Kusmark in his native Sweden.

A nickname given to him by Skelleftea general manager Lasse Johansson, perhaps it in part refers to the Nashville Predators forward’s level of energy and persistency when jumping in on the forecheck. But it’s also for his notorious habit of pecking his stick on the ice, demanding the puck.

His hard work, energy and persistence, as well as his ability with the puck, have allowed him emerge as a fan favorite in Nashville, which came within two victories of winning the Stanley Cup last season.

Passed up in the NHL Draft three consecutive years, he was selected by the Predators in the fourth round (No. 112) in 2014 at the age of 21. After playing 62 games for Nashville the previous two seasons, Arvidsson tied for the Predators lead with 31 goals and 61 points in 80 games last season. He had 13 points (three goals, 10 assists) in 22 Stanley Cup Playoff games to help them reach the Final for the first time.

Arvidsson signed a seven-year, $29.75 million contract with the Predators on Saturday. It runs through the 2023-24 season and has an average annual value of $4.25 million.

He said playing seven more seasons in front of Predators fans is a bonus.

“It’s been so much fun, especially early on when I got to realize how much they appreciate what I do,” Arvidsson said Monday. “That stuff never gets old. It’s always great to read all those positive comments.

“I love how they salute my effort and the fact that they apparently want me to keep playing there. For sure, they’ve really proved that they can be counted on as well.”

Arvidsson had an arbitration hearing in Toronto on Saturday, but the sides agreed to the contract before the arbitrator’s ruling.

“It felt really good when it was put on the table and I realized they wanted me there long-term,” he said. “It’s security, of course, but you can’t lean back just because you signed a long contract. I’m really happy with this deal. We’ve got something great going on right now in Nashville.

“Our defense is great. So is our offense. Of course I wanted to stay and be better and make the team better.”

Arvidsson also factored in the opportunity to play with a group of players from his home country, including forwards Filip Forsberg, Pontus Aberg and Calle Jarnkrok, and defenseman Mattias Ekholm. Swedish forward prospects Victor Ejdsell and Emil Pettersson will be looking to make the NHL roster in training camp.

“My girlfriend and I actually talked about that,” he said. “We have a lot of Swedes now in Nashville, and it’s a good social situation for us, which makes it easier and more fun overall, not just for the guys on the team.”

Center Mike Fisher is unsure whether he will play next season, and forward James Neal was selected by the Vegas Golden Knights in the NHL Expansion Draft, but that could allow for larger roles for forwards Aberg, Colton Sissons and Kevin Fiala, who each impressed during the playoffs.

“Now those guys will have a chance to step up,” Arvidsson said. “They’ve all been great when they’ve been called up, and I think Pontus and Sissons were big factors for us in the playoffs when other guys got hurt.

“And you know, Kevin had a bad injury, but he was good for us all year.”

Fiala had two goals in five playoff games before breaking his leg in Game 1 of the Western Conference Second Round against the St. Louis Blues. He began skating June 22.

Few had expected the Predators to sweep the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round or defeat the Anaheim Ducks to reach the Cup Final, but most experts will put them at or near the top of their Western Conference predictions this season. Arvidsson said he’s ready to meet those expectations.

“I think it’s just great,” he said. “If people believe in us, they put some pressure on us. I have no problem being on a top-ranked team. It keeps you focused.

“If you want to win you have to compete every single day to help make the guy next to you better for when it really matters. It’s that consistency I was talking about.”

As for last season’s Cup Final, which ended in a loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 6, Arvidsson has moved on.

“I think I’m over it now,” he said. “Now I just want to get back at trying to win it.”

Nashville Predator’s exciting playoffs aroused fans’ group – high expectations for next season

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The day after a 2-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final ended the Nashville Predators’ thrilling run through the 2017 playoffs, things were slowly returning to normal around the city. The sea of Predators hats and jerseys had subsided, and traffic was once again running along Broadway in downtown Nashville.

The only evidence of the Predators’ epic run remaining outside Bridgestone Arena might have been the beat-up Penguins “Smash Car,” a vehicle reduced to a gnarled collection of metal after absorbing hundreds upon hundreds of blows from sledgehammer-wielding Predators fans.

The madness surrounding the team that had taken over the city over the past two months had mostly faded, but there was still plenty of pride around Music City about its hockey team. And maybe just a little chatter about the second-period goal in Game 6 that was nullified by a premature whistle.

We've got to let it sink in, because that's what's going to put us back here again next year,
“I think everyone was so focused on how far the team went, the records that we set, the dominating game that we played, the strength of our team. But the disallowed goal was just an unfortunate way to end — and heartbreaking,” said Ali Tonn, a Predators fan who also serves as the director of education and public programming at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. “I just think there’s a lot of pride and support and excitement for next season.”

That disappointment over Colton Sissons’ controversial non-goal and seeing the Penguins hoist the Stanley Cup on the Predators’ home ice was apparent among locals and fans around town the day after the 2016-17 NHL season officially came to a close. But that disappointment was dulled somewhat by the excitement that was still emanating around the city. The young Predators team’s ascent to hockey’s biggest stage came sooner than expected, and their fan base’s fascination became fixation before reaching all-out pandemonium levels during the Cup Final.

With free concerts by big-name performers before each home Cup Final game and a viewing party taking place just a guitar pick’s flick away from the multiple honky tonk bars lining Broadway, the scene outside Bridgestone was electric. Tens of thousands of fans packed the area, alerting the sports world to the fact Nashville has become a legitimate hockey market just a decade after Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie attempted to purchase the team with the intention of moving it out of Nashville.

“It’s reaffirmed to me how good a hockey market this has become since the sale of the team in 2007,” said broadcaster Pete Weber, who has been the voice of the team since its inaugural 1998-99 season. “You get largely local ownership involved here, and they have friends who like to help them out. That circle of friends has been greatly enlarged over the last 10-11 years.”

The day after the deepest playoff run in franchise history came to an end, that ownership was no doubt thrilled. Demand for tickets at Bridgestone Arena is likely to spike for a team that sold out every home game for the first time in the club’s history.

That increased demand and overall fascination with the Predators won’t be without expectations that will no doubt be sky-high next season — especially for a team led by a youthful roster that advanced to the Cup Final despite missing two top young forwards — Ryan Johansen and Kevin Fiala — who were lost to injury during the postseason.

Considering how fully the state of Tennessee embraced the Predators, this team now faces a new reality, one in which a run to the Cup Final isn’t just a hope for the franchise. It’s now the standard, one that much of the hockey world is happy to embrace if it means partaking in a celebration as raucous as what Nashville rolled out during these playoffs.

“Every day was a Saturday during the playoffs, which is great. Makes my night go by a lot faster and it makes me proud too,” said Parker Hazard, a local fan and manager at the legendary Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge. “From listening to guys on TV, it sounded like Nashville was the best atmosphere in the playoffs. How this city and this community came together in all shapes, sizes and colors behind that team, and how much faith we had for that team … to me, that’s what sports is all about.”

Of course, any discussion of next season inevitably raises the question about the sea of gold that exuberantly propelled the Predators through the postseason. Will the energy and electricity that emerged all around Preds Nation carry over to 2017-18, or was this all just a spirited bandwagon that reached critical mass?

It doesn’t take long to get a definitive answer to that question from people all around Music City.

“Why stop now?” Hazard said. “We as a fan base came this far and went so hard. There’s no ceiling to it. It’s a young team. Ticket prices aren’t going to be lower, that’s for sure. But that’s a good thing. Nashville hasn’t had that, other than the Titans going to the Super Bowl. I truly believe it’s not one of those one-and-done type of things.”

The pieces all appear to be there. The Predators are a speedy, exciting team laden with young All-Stars who captured the rowdy imagination of a growing fan base and put the rest of the NHL on notice. And if they can harness the lessons they learned during the 2017 playoffs and make a similar run next season, the city is likely to do it all over again with the most unique catfish-tossing, beer-slamming, guitar-strumming celebration in the NHL.