Juuse Saros Selected To 2022 NHL All-Star Game

Juuse Saros. Photo: Courtesy of the Nashville Predators

Nashville Predators’ goaltender Juuse Saros has been selected to the Central Division’s roster for the 2022 NHL All-Star Game. This is Saros first All-Star selection.

Prior to Thursday night’s (Jan.13) 4-1 loss to the Buffalo Sabres, Saros boasted a 20-9-1 record, 2.27 goals-against average and .928 save percentage in 30 starts for the Preds. Among all goaltenders who have played in at least 20 games, Saros is tied for first in wins, fifth in save percentage, and seventh in goals-against average; he leads all Central Division goalies in all three categories.

Saros, who replaced legendary Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne, has been one of the key factors for the team’s success this season. He’s helped lead the team to a five game win streak, which has put them on top of the Central Division. During the Preds win streak, Saros stopped 202 of 213 shots for a .948 save percentage, making at least 40 saves three times, including a season-high 46 on Jan. 6 against Las Vegas.

He is now the third goaltender in Predators history to be named to an NHL All-Star Game roster, joining Rinne (2015, 2016, 2018 and 2019) and Tomas Vokoun (2004).

The NHL is finishing up fan All-Star voting with the “Last Men In,” which includes Roman Josi. The team captain is having one of his best seasons, leading the team and placing second among all NHL defensemen in points with 37 (12 goals, 25 assists.) Josi also ranks second among League blueliners in goals with 12. If voted in, it’ll be his fourth All-Star game after being selected in 2016, 2019 and 2020.

“Last Men In” voting started on Thursday night and runs through Monday, Jan. 17 at 10:59 p.m. CT. Participants can cast a maximum of 10 ballots in a 24-hour period.

The 2022 NHL All-Star Game is set for Feb. 5 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Predators Foundation Donates $100,000 To Communities In Schools Of Tennessee

The Nashville Predators Foundation and SmileDirectClub are awarding Communities in Schools of Tennessee (CISTN) with a SuperGrant totaling $100,000.

Communities in Schools of Tennessee is a non-profit that connects students to resources and helps remove barriers for at-risk students by helping them stay in school and on the road to graduation. The SuperGrant will allow five Metro Nashville public schools to continue partnering with CISTN and benefit from its services for students.

“We are excited to award the second SuperGrant of the season to Communities in Schools of Tennessee and recognize the organization for its amazing work in ensuring student success in our community,” says Nashville Predators Vice President of Community Relations Rebecca King. “We look forward to partnering with SmileDirectClub and working with CISTN on future opportunities to grow this relationship.”

Introduced during the 2019-20 season as part of the partnership between the Predators Foundation and Nashville-based SmileDirectClub, multiple SuperGrants ranging from $25,000 to $100,000 will be awarded each season to Middle Tennessee community organizations. Funding will be allocated to support programming or the completion of large-scale projects that empower people during times of life transitions.

Including the funds awarded to Home Street Home Ministries, Monroe Harding, Retrieving Independence and Maple Built, $200,000 in financial support was distributed by the SuperGrant program last season.

Preds Foundation To Host 15th Annual Wine Festival & Tasting

The Nashville Predators Foundation is set to host its 15th annual Wine Festival and Tasting presented by Deacon’s New South. The event will be held on March 11 over the ice at Bridgestone Arena.

The festival will feature higher-end wine, beer, and spirit tastings from local distributors, including Cool Springs Wine & Spirits and Lipman Brothers. Food samplings from local restaurants will also be showcased along with an extensive silent auction.

“The Preds Foundation’s Wine Festival has become a premier local wine event,” says Rebecca King, VP of Community Relations for the Nashville Predators. “With over 1,500 attendees, fans will not only get to sample numerous wines, spirits, beers and food but also walk around the floor of the arena and experience what it is like to look up at 17,159 seats. We want attendees to feel like they are in a hockey arena–walk through the Pred head, witness the size of Fangvision and check out the arena glass and boards which they are used to seeing players slammed up against. This truly is a unique tasting experience.”

The event will run from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. CT and all proceeds from the event will benefit the Predators Foundation.

General admission and VIP tickets, including a five-course dinner and wine pairing at 5:30 p.m. CT in Patron Platinum Club, are available for purchase now. Those who purchase tickets will also receive a $30 gift card to Deacon’s New South.

Kylie Wilkerson Named General Manager Of New F&M Bank Arena

Photo: Courtesy of the Nashville Predators

Sabertooth Sports & Entertainment LLC (SS&E) has named Kylie Wilkerson the General Manager of the new F&M Bank Arena.

“We are very excited to name Kylie Wilkerson as the first General Manager of F&M Bank Arena,” says Danny Butler, VP for Predators Holdings, LLC, parent company of SS&E, the Nashville Predators and Bridgestone Arena. “Kylie started with the organization 10 years ago and has grown to be one of our best young leaders. She will bring our ‘One Goal’ philosophy with her to Montgomery County, ensuring that F&M Bank Arena is managed and operated with the same core principles that we utilize at Bridgestone Arena and our Ford Ice Centers. We could not be more pleased that she has accepted this opportunity.”

Wilkerson has worked her way up through the Predators and Bridgestone Arena organizations starting as an intern in 2001 and serving as the Director of Event Services at Bridgestone Arena since February 2021.

“Great things are happening in Montgomery County, and I’m ecstatic to see the growth that will continue with the opening of F&M Bank Arena,” Wilkerson adds. “I’m counting down the days until we get to host our first Austin Peay basketball game, bring more events to Montgomery County and expand hockey into another community.”

The venue has  already began booking events for 2023 and will continue to add staff throughout the year. 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.

The Montgomery County Arena will hold approximately 6,000 fans for concerts, 5,500 for basketball games and 5,000 for hockey games.

NHL Players Not Allowed To Participate In 2022 Winter Olympics

The NHL has announced that its players will no longer be allowed to participate in the upcoming 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

This announcement comes just two days after the league announced the postponement of games through the holiday break after a spike in COVID-19 cases among many teams.

“The National Hockey League respects and admires the desire of NHL Players to represent their countries and participate in a ‘best on best’ tournament. Accordingly, we have waited as long as possible to make this decision while exploring every available option to enable our players to participate in the 2022 Winter Olympic Games,” says NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman .

“Unfortunately, given the profound disruption to the NHL’s regular-season schedule caused by recent COVID-related events–50 games already have been postponed through Dec. 23–Olympic participation is no longer feasible,” he continues. “We certainly acknowledge and appreciate the efforts made by the International Olympic Committee, the International Ice Hockey Federation and the Beijing Organizing Committee to host NHL Players but current circumstances have made it impossible for us to proceed despite everyone’s best efforts. We look forward to Olympic participation in 2026.”

Nashville Predators captain Roman Josi was set to play for Switzerland’s Olympic team. He was selected for his home country twice before and played in all four games for the Swiss in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Predators head coach John Hynes was slated to join the U.S. Olympic hockey team as an assistant coach

NHL, NHL Players’ Association Agree To Postpone Games Prior To Holiday Shutdown

After a spike in COVID-19 cases across the league, the NHL and NHL Players’ Association have agreed to postpone five games on Thursday, Dec. 23, one day before the scheduled holiday shutdown.

The decision comes one day after the NHL announced the Columbus Blue Jackets and Montreal Canadiens would be shut down through the holiday break, and that four more games had been postponed–Columbus Blue Jackets vs. the Buffalo Sabres on Monday and Thursday, and Tuesday games between the New Jersey Devils & Pittsburgh Penguins and Seattle Kraken & Arizona Coyotes.

The Nashville Predators were among several teams who postponed all remaining games prior to the holiday shutdown. On Saturday, Dec. 18, the Preds announced the postponement of its Dec. 19 match at Carolina, Dec. 21 against Winnipeg, and Dec. 23 at Florida.

Under the revised NHL schedule, Dec. 22-25 shall be off days for all purposes, including travel.

Players will report back to their teams Sunday, Dec. 26, which shall only be used for testing, practice, and/or travel. Upon return from the holiday break, no individual in the team’s traveling party shall enter the facility (other than for testing purposes) until they have a negative test result. Any practice scheduled for Sunday must begin after 2 p.m. local time.

The newly announced NHL protocols for teams and players is in the process of reviewing and revising the regular season schedule.

Thomas Rhett, Mitchell Tenpenny & Walker Hayes To Perform At New Year’s Sporting Events

Country artists Thomas RhettMitchell Tenpenny and Walker Hayes are headlining two major sporting events over New Year’s: the NHL Winter Classic and the Orange Bowl.

Rhett, an 18x multi-Platinum and Gold-Certified country artist, will perform during the first period intermission at the sold-out Winter Classic between the St. Louis Blues and Minnesota Wild. The game will be played outdoors at Target Field, the home of MLB’s Minnesota Twins on Jan. 1.

The 2019 ACM Performer of the Year’s performance will be aired on TNT as part of the Winter Classic Event. The game and concert will air at 6 p.m. CT.

Tenpenny and Hayes will be performing at the highly anticipated 2021 Orange Bowl between Georgia and Michigan on New Year’s Eve.

The “Drunk Me” singer played football in high school and planned to play college football before deciding to pursue a music career. The fan fest will take place in the south lot outside Hard Rock Stadium in Miami beginning at 1:30 p.m. CT. Admission to fan fest is free for all fans with a ticket to the game.

“I’ve watched the Orange Bowl ever since I can remember,” says Tenpenny. “I’m so excited to play fan fest and get to see this game live!”

At halftime of the Orange Bowl, Hayes, the 2x Platinum singer of “Fancy Like,” will take the stage to perform the halftime show. The Orange Bowl will air on ESPN at 6:30 p.m. CT.

Predators Recall Four Players, Two Coaches After COVID Outbreak

Ryan Johansen. Photo: Courtesy of the Nashville Predators

The Predators are the newest team to be heavily affected by a Covid-19 outbreak in the clubhouse after 12 members of the club have tested positive.

Six players, including Mikael Granlund, Ryan JohansenMatt Luff, Michael McCarron, Philip Tomasino, and defenseman Ben Harpur, have all tested positive for Covid-19 and are currently in quarantine. Other members of the team that have tested positive include Head Coach John Hynes, Assistant Coaches Dan Lambert, Todd Richards and Dan Hinote, and Goaltending Coach Ben Vanderklok.

In response, the Preds have recalled four players and two coaches from the Milwaukee Admirals, its AHL affiliate–Cody Glass, Rocco Grimaldi, Mathieu Olivier and Cole Smith. Admirals Head Coach Karl Taylor and Assistant Coach Scott Ford will serve behind the bench for the Predators in tonight’s game (Dec. 16) against the Colorado Avalanche.

The 22-year-old Glass leads Milwaukee in assists with 15 and is second in points with 19 from 21 total AHL contests this season.

Grimaldi started off this season with the Predators and skated in five games with his most recent appearance coming on Nov. 7 at Chicago. Grimaldi has posted 67 points (30 goals, 37 assists) in 201 career NHL games.

Nashville takes on Central Division rival the Colorado Avalanche tonight (Dec. 16) at 7 p.m. at Bridgestone Arena.