SS&E Announce New F&M Bank Arena To Open In Clarksville

The Predators newest venture, Sabertooth Sports and Entertainment LLC (SS&E), have announced that the new event center being built in Clarksville, Tennessee will be named F&M Bank Arena. This comes after SS&E and Clarksville-based F&M Bank entered a multi-year naming rights agreement on behalf of F&M Bank Arena in May.

“We can finally put a name on the vision Montgomery County Mayor Jim Durrett has had for this region for such a long time–F&M Bank Arena,” says Nashville Predators and SS&E President and CEO Sean Henry. “Seeing the next chapter in this venue’s life be written by a dynamic, local organization like F&M Bank, led by President and CEO Sammy Stuard, with meaningful input from Mayor Durrett, City of Clarksville Mayor Joe Pitts and Austin Peay State University Athletic Director Gerald Harrison, is proof of what can happen when passionate, creative individuals collaborate for the greater good of their communities. While we didn’t call it the hippodrome–one of my personal favorites–seeing the name F&M Bank Arena attached to an event center that will be used and enjoyed for generations to come marks another milestone on the way to creating something special in Clarksville.”

Construction continues at F&M Bank Arena’s downtown location of First Street and College Street. Ground broke on the facility in November 2020, and the venue is scheduled to open during the 2022-23 season under SS&E management. SS&E will be responsible for F&M Bank Arena’s day-to-day operations and will be charged with booking the facility to bring the venue to life and make it flourish. F&M Bank Arena will hold approximately 6,000 fans for concerts; 5,500 for basketball game; and 5,000 for hockey games.

“It is exciting to finally be able to say the name out loud… F&M Bank Arena!” says Stuard. “We look forward to actively promoting the brand, not only as an investment in our downtown area, but also as an expression of F&M Bank’s commitment to economic development.”

F&M Bank Arena’s primary tenant will be Austin Peay State University, whose men’s and women’s basketball teams will call the facility home. In addition to the facility’s main event space, which will be able to host sporting events, concerts, banquets, conventions, trade shows and other events, the multi-level venue will feature a separate sheet of ice to be used for youth and adult hockey leagues as well as figure skating. The main arena bowl will also be able to add an ice surface, giving it the ability to host hockey tournaments and attract larger on-ice events or competitions much like the existing Ford Ice Centers in Antioch and Bellevue. Using these ice sheets, the Predators will offer a variety of learn-to-skate programs at F&M Bank Arena, continuing their mission to expose and grow hockey to more Middle Tennessee residents.

The F&M Bank Arena will also contain luxury suites, premium seating, private hospitality space, party rooms, and common areas that will have full access to the arena bowl. The Austin Peay men’s and women’s basketball teams will move their coaches’ offices and training facilities into F&M Bank Arena, which will also house their practice court.

Predators Re-Sign Mikael Granlund, Zachary L’Heureux, Michael McCarron, Anthony Richard

Mikael Granlund. Photo: Courtesy of the Nashville Predators

The NHL free agency market is wide open and the Nashville Predators have re-signed forward Mikael Granlund and signed 2021 first round draft pick Zachary L’Heureux to an entry-level contract, among others. After Pekka Rinne’s announcement of retirement and trading Viktor Arvidsson and Ryan Ellis, the Preds were expected to make moves to help build around their young core.

Granlund is heading back to the organization after signing a four-year $20 million contract. This past season, Granlund tied for the Predators lead in goals with 13 and was fourth in points with 27. From March 15 through the end of the regular season, a stretch in which Nashville went 20-7-1, Granlund posted 17 points (8 goals, 9 assists), the second-most on the team, and recorded three multi-point efforts.

“Signing Mikael to a contract that will keep him here in Nashville was a priority for us as we entered the free agency period,” says Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile. “He has been one of our most consistent players since he joined the Predators, played a crucial role in helping turn our team around last season and fits in extremely well with our team chemistry and the identity we are trying to build. We’re excited to see his continued impact in all three zones of the ice for the next several years and know he and his leadership will be instrumental in helping with the growth of the young group of forwards we’ve assembled.”

Zachary L’Heureux. Photo: Courtesy of the Nashville Predators

L’Heureux, Nashville’s first round pick in last weekends’s draft, was offered a three-year entry-level contract. Drafted out of the QMJHL’s Halifax Mooseheads, the forward was second among team skaters in points (39), goals (19), and penalty minutes (47). He also tied for fourth in assists (20) in 2020-21, which was only his second full QMJHL season.

The Predators also made a move in front of the net, signing goaltender David Rittich to a one-year contract worth $1.25 million. Rittich, who will be Juuse Saros backup, appeared in 19 games last season with the Calgary Flames and Toronto Maple Leafs. He posted a .901 save percentage and 2.86 goals-against average.

Michael McCarron. Photo: Courtesy of the Nashville Predators

Nashville also signed Michael McCarron, Anthony Richard and Matt Tennyson, all to two-year, two-way contracts worth $750,000 at the NHL level. McCarron competed in six games for the Predators in 2020-21, his first NHL action since the 2017-18 campaign, and recorded 16 penalty minutes and 12 hits in 10:18 of average ice time. The 6-foot-6, 232-pound forward made his Nashville debut on Feb. 8 vs. Tampa Bay, but spent the bulk of the season on the team’s taxi squad.

Anthony Richard. Photo: Courtesy of the Nashville Predators

Richard skated the entire 2020-21 campaign with the AHL’s Chicago Wolves and was among the team’s leaders in goals with 11 (third) and points with 18 (tied for seventh). Despite playing in 32 fewer games in 2020-21 than he did the previous season, he was only three goals and five points shy of matching his totals of 14 and 23, respectively, in 60 contests with the Milwaukee Admirals in 2019-20.

Tennyson completed his 10th professional season in 2020-21 in the New Jersey system, skating in 21 games for the Devils–his most in an NHL season since 2016-17–and five for Binghamton (New Jersey’s AHL affiliate). The Preds gave qualifying offers to Saros, Jeremy Davies, Dante Fabbro, Tanner Jeannot, Mathieu Olivier, Rem Pitlick, and Eeli Tolvanen prior to the free agency period.

Preds Foundation To Host Brent Peterson Golf Classic, 10th Annual Petey’s Preds Party

The Nashville Predators Foundation, empowered by SmileDirectClub, will host the 11th Annual First Horizon Brent Peterson Golf Classic. Held at the Vanderbilt Legends Club in Franklin, Tenn. on Sept. 13, the event will benefit both the Predators Foundation and the Peterson Foundation for Parkinson’s (PFP). Later in the month, the 10th Annual First Horizon Petey’s Preds Party will also return to Bridgestone Arena on Sept. 28.

At the Peterson Golf Classic, local celebrities, Predators alumni, and executives will be put in teams of four and will play in morning and afternoon flights. Taking place on the Vanderbilt Legends South Course, the tournament will feature several competitions, such as the longest drive and closest-to-the-pin contest.

Following a year off in 2020 due to the Coronavirus pandemic, Tuesday, Sept. 28 will mark the return of the First Horizon Petey’s Preds Party. Over the ice at Bridgestone Arena, fans will enjoy an evening of stand-up comedy from Nashville-based comedian Aaron Weber, a delicious dinner, and an auction of rare hockey and sports items. Individual tickets and tables of 10 are available here.

“After a year when we were unable to host so many of our fan-favorite Foundation events, we are thrilled to kick off the 2021-22 season this September with the First Horizon Brent Peterson Golf Classic and First Horizon Petey’s Preds Party,” says Nashville Predators Vice President of Community Relations Rebecca King. “Because of these events, we have raised over $1.6 million for the Preds Foundation and Peterson Foundation for Parkinson’s, and we look forward to continuing those efforts this year and for years to come!”

In addition to benefiting the Predators Foundation, both upcoming events will benefit the PFP, which was founded in 2009 by Peterson. “Petey,” as he is known, served as an assistant coach from Day One until 2011 when he brought his battle with Parkinson’s into the public eye. Today, Peterson continues to work tirelessly to raise awareness about the devastating effects of Parkinson’s disease and advance PFP’s mission to support and enhance lives of people with Parkinson’s, their care partners, and families to achieve their highest possible quality of life through awareness, education and programs within a caring community.

Predators 2021 NHL Draft Recap: Nashville Selects Six Players

Photo: Courtesy of the Nashville Predators

The Nashville Predators made six selections in the 2021 NHL Draft over the weekend (July 23-24) taking three forwards and three defensemen, including forward Fedor Svechkov from Lada Togliatti of the Russian second league with the 19th overall pick.

“We were very pleased with the way this year’s draft went,” says Predators Assistant General Manager/Director of Scouting Jeff Kealty. “Before the draft we tried to implement a strategy and go into it with that in mind, and we felt we did that. We’re very excited about everyone we picked.”

Predators took two players in the first round of the draft for just the second time in franchise history and the first time since 2008. Svechkov, 18-years-old, was the sixth-rated European skater in NHL Central Scouting’s pre-draft rankings and is the second consecutive Russian-born player selected in the first round by the Predators after the team picked goaltender Yaroslav Askarov at No. 11 overall in 2020. The forward spent most of the 2020-21 campaign with Lada Togliatti, where he tallied 15 points (5 goals, 10 assists) in 38 games. He also produced at a point-per-game pace for Togliatti’s squad in the Russian junior league, tallying 15 points (4 goals, 11 assists) in 15 contests.

Later in the first round, the Predators selected forward Zachary L’Heureux. The 18-year-old is a product of the QMJHL’s Halifax Mooseheads, where he placed second in the 2020-21 campaign among team skaters in points (39), goals (19) and penalty minutes (47), and was fourth in assists (20). It was the forward’s second full QMJHL season where he tallied 53 points (20 goals, 33 assists) in 55 games as a rookie in 2019-20 with the Moncton Wildcats.

“We were very high on Zachary, and the reason is simple–he brings something different to the game,” says Predators North American Amateur Scout Dave Westby. “He has got a unique package of skill, grit and character. He’s hard to play against and he’ll be there for his teammates. We felt players like him are hard to find, and when you add in the skills he has, we are pretty excited to have been able to draft him.”

In the thirds round, the Preds selected defenseman Anton Olsson from Malmö of the Swedish Hockey League as the 72nd pick. Olsson, 18, skated in his first full SHL season in 2020-21 and appeared in 39 games. Later, Nashville selected defenseman Ryan Ufko from the USHL’s Chicago Steel with its first of two picks in the fourth round (115th overall). Ufko, 18-years-old, is currently attending USA Hockey’s World Junior Summer Showcase before entering his freshman season at UMass Amherst in the fall. The right-shot blueliner won the USHL’s Clark Cup with Chicago in the 2020-21 campaign after posting 39 points (10 goals, 29 assists) in 53 games.

With their second pick of the fourth round (124th overall), the Predators selected 6-foot-4 defenseman Jack Matier from the OHL’s Ottawa 67’s. He only skated in seven games this season–all coming at the 2021 World U-18 Championship–due to the OHL canceling its campaign. He is a year removed from posting nine points (9 assists) in 56 contests as a rookie with Ottawa in 2019-20. With its final pick, the Predators selected Zurich, Switzerland, native Simon Knak in the sixth round with the 179th pick. Knak, 19-years-old, split the 2020-21 campaign between the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks and the Swiss National League’s HC Davos, appearing in a combined 49 games. He made his National League debut skating for Davos, where he posted eight points (3 goals, 5 assists) in 25 appearances then spent the remainder of the season with Portland and tallied 29 points (16 goals, 13 assists), five shy of matching his career high of 34 (9 goals, 25 assists) set in 2019-20 in 25 fewer games played.

“We were pretty happy to get him, especially as late as we did,” says Predators North American Amateur Scout Glen Sanders. “He’s a very strong power forward who drives the net. With all the culture-type things we’ve trying to do with this draft, we wanted someone who has character and will, and he has all that.”

Now that the draft has wrapped, the NHL and the Predators are preparing for Free Agency which begins on Wednesday, July 28. With Nashville having contracts that need to be unloaded as well as gaps in their team that need to be filled, it is sure to be an interesting Free Agency period.

Predators Announce Full 2021-22 Season Schedule

Photo: Courtesy of the Nashville Predators

The Nashville Predators have released their 2021-22 schedule which includes a four-game homestand to start the season. The team will play its first game against the NHL’s new expansion team, the Seattle Kraken. The opening homestand will also feature the Carolina Hurricanes, Los Angeles Kings, and the New York Rangers.

The divisions for the league have been realigned after last year’s shortened 56-game season where games were only played among teams within a certain distance to prevent long travel and to reduce the risk of Covid-19. The upcoming season will be a standard 82-game season with 40 games being held at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena. The Preds will also host a NHL Stadium Series game against the defending Stanley Cup Champions, Tampa Bay Lightning, at Nissan Stadium on Feb. 26.

The Preds will only play two round games and will close out the month with home games vs. San Jose (Oct. 26) and the New York Islanders (Oct. 30). Nashville will have a busy November as they will play 15 games overall, 10 of which will be on the road. They will have a long road trip as well between November 2-11 as they face Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, Chicago, Dallas, and St. Louis in a 10-day span. December boasts a similar schedule as the team will play 15 games, including 10 on the road. A road trip between Dec. 7-12 leads the Preds to Detroit and New York to face the Islanders, Rangers, and Devils.

The Predators will kickoff 2022 on home ice with a New Year’s Day tilt against rival Chicago before heading west for three games at Vegas, Los Angeles, and Arizona from Jan. 4-8. February will feature three home games as the schedule includes a built-in break for the 2022 NHL All-Star Weekend in Las Vegas and the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics set for Feb. 7-22.

March begins with Nashville’s second trip to Seattle of the season (March 2) as part of a two-game stretch that finishes in San Jose (March 5). Seven of Nashville’s next 12 contests will be at Bridgestone Arena, starting with a three-game homestand against Dallas, Anaheim, and St. Louis from March 8-12. April will see the team play at Bridgestone Arena nine times starting with the second half of a road-home back-to-back against Buffalo and Washington on April 1-2. Nashville’s game versus Washington highlights a two-week span in which the team will play seven of eight games on home ice from April 2-17, featuring games against Minnesota, Florida, Edmonton, San Jose, Chicago, and St. Louis. Nashville will conclude the 2021-22 campaign with a road back-to-back set in Colorado and Arizona on April 28-29.

All regionally available games will be televised on Bally Sports South and the Bally Sports app with a full broadcast schedule being announced at a later date. For information on Predators season tickets or to purchase, click here.

Seattle Kraken Take Predators’ Forward Calle Järnkrok In Expansion Draft

Calle Järnkrok . Photo: Courtesy of the Nashville Predators

Out of the players the Nashville Predators left available, the Seattle Kraken selected Calle Järnkrok in the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft. The Kraken left bigger names like Matt Duchene and Ryan Johansen on the table, helping them preserve cap space.

“[Thank you to] Calle Järnkrok for everything he did for the Predators organization,” says Preds General Manager David Poile. “Calle was a real good acquisition from Detroit several years ago, played a lot of different roles for us, a very versatile player, played in all different areas of the game and he clearly will be missed by the Predators. We wish him and his family all the best in Seattle.”

Järnkrok, 29-years-old, was drafted by the Detroit Red Wings in the second round of the 2010 NHL Draft. The Swedish native spent eight seasons with the Preds, playing in 508 games and scoring 94 goals. During Nashville’s Stanley Cup Finals run, Järnkrok scored 15 goals and 16 assists, accumulating 31 total points. This past season, Järnkrok led the team in goals, scoring 13 and assisting 15.

The Preds will have eight forwards under contract for next season: Duchene’s seven-year, $56 million contract is entering its third year and he will be paid $10 million for the 2021-22 season while Johansen is entering the fifth year of his eight year, $64 million contract and will get paid $8 million for the 2021-22 season.

The next big event for the Predators and the NHL start this Friday, July 23, with the start of the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. The Predators have eight picks in this year’s draft and the 19th overall pick.

Predators Prospect Luke Prokop Comes Out As First Active Gay NHL Player

Luke Prokop. Photo: Courtesy of the Nashville Predators/NHL

Nashville Predators’ prospect Luke Prokop made history off the ice this week by coming out as gay, becoming the first active NHL player under contract to do so. Prokop has received a huge outpour of support from the Predators, the hockey community, and people from around the world.

Prokop, a 19-year-old native of Edmonton, Canada, was drafted by the Preds in the third round of the 2020 NHL Draft with the 73 overall pick. He spent last season playing with the Calgary Hitmen of WHL team where he was named an alternative captain.

“The Nashville Predators organization is proud of Luke for the courage he is displaying in coming out today and we will support him unequivocally in the days, weeks, and years to come as he continues to develop as a prospect,” says Nashville Predators President and CEO Sean Henry. “A long-stated goal in our organization is equality for all, including the LGBTQ community, and it is important that Luke feels comfortable and part of an inclusive environment as he moves forward in his career.”

Prokop made a statement via social media coming out. In an interview with ESPN’s Emily Kaplan he also expressed his new inner-peace and how the Predators organization supported him and his decision to come out publicly.

“Luke is a valued prospect of the Nashville Predators and we think he has a bright future,” shares Predators President of Hockey Operations and General Manager David Poile. “We want Luke to become a successful hockey player, and we understand his ability to be out comfortably will help him achieve his goals on and off the ice. We are committed to ensuring nothing stands in the way of his ability. His courage is an inspiration to us, and to the LGBTQ community in Nashville.”

Prokop received support from teammates Roman Josi and Matt Duchene, as well as support from legendary athletes like Billie Jean King and the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau.

“People, unless they can be their authentic true selves, can’t be the best they can be,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman says. “Anybody who is connected to the NHL, whether it’s front office, whether it’s coaching and player development, whether it’s players, we want everybody to know that whoever you are, you have a place in our family.”

Here is the full ESPN interview with Prokop:

Nashville Predators, Fanaply Launch ‘Predators Origin’ NFT Series

The Nashville Predators have partnered with digital collectible creator Fanaply to launch their first series of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs). This limited run of 25 NFTs, entitled “The Origin Series,” features the one-of-a-kind, No. 1 of 1 “Gold Saber Skull – Genesis Edition” which is up for live auction through July 30.

The NFT is packaged with two Lexus Lounge tickets to the Bridgestone Arena event of the buyer’s choosing. 25 individually numbered “Gold Saber Skull” NFTs are available for purchase now, each including a $35 donation in the buyer’s name to the 365 Pediatric Cancer Fund presented by Twice Daily.

“Our fans have been asking us to enter the digital collectibles realm for quite some time so we are excited to do so by going back to the beginnings of the franchise with ‘The Origins Series,'” says Predators Chief Marketing Officer Bill Wickett. “We would like to thank the National Hockey League for permitting us to explore the space and look forward to working with our fans to further enhance the Smashville experience through more NFT series.”

The Predators and Fanaply worked to produce these NFTs using Ethereum blockchain technology making them collectible and valuable. They can be bought, sold, or traded via the Fanaply website or on a secondary marketplace. Fanaply is one of the original creators of NFTs, and believes the future of NFTs is an accessible one where people can afford to buy them and purchase with credit and debit cards. Fanaply has the most environmentally friendly NFTs and has built a proprietary system that dramatically reduces the impact of energy consumption, unlike many other NFT platforms.

“Bringing limited edition, environmentally friendly digital assets to the fans of the Nashville Predators is central to Fanaply’s belief that NFTs are the natural progression of fandom,” says Fanaply Co-Founder and CEO Grant Dexter. “Fans are still mostly interacting online with the teams they love right now, and they’re telling us they want digital products for their digital worlds. NFTs not only let fans commemorate amazing moments, milestones and experiences of the teams, games and communities they love, but for the first time in history, fans can actually have true portable digital ownership… We’re thrilled to be partnering with such an innovative, creative and progressive fan-driven organization with the Nashville Predators.”