Predators Display Dominance After Winning Eight Of Last Eleven Games

Eeli Tolvanen. Photo: Courtesy of the Nashville Predators

The Nashville Predators have been flexing their muscles on both sides of the ice in early December after winning eight of their last 11 games, including a four-game win streak, all of which were on the road. The team finds itself in second place in the Central Division with 35 points.

Prior to hitting the road on Dec. 7 against the Detroit Red Wings, the Preds picked up late November wins against he Ducks, Devils, Blue Jackets and Canadians.

The Predators handled Detroit with ease, winning 5-2. The team’s goal scorers were Nick Cousins, Eeli Tolvanen, Dante Fabbro and Roman Josi. Both Fabbro and Josi played excellent, having a pair of assists along with their goals. Back-up goalie David Rittich was called up to start for the Preds and had a masterful performance, only giving up two goals.

“David is going to be a guy that’s going to have to play for us whether Juuse [Saros] is out or in back-to-back starts. You need two goalies in this league,” said head coach John Hynes in a post-game press conference. “Overall I thought it was a good team effort.”

The task against the New York Islanders was not as easy.

Nashville left Long Island with a 4-3 victory, which took a lot of effort to pull off the comeback. Rittich struggled, giving up an early goal in the first period and then two back-to-back goals in the third. The Predators offense bailed out Rittich in this match.

Nashville scored twice in the first period to lead 2-1, but found themselves down 3-2 with about 12 minutes left in the third period. A Yakov Trenin goal tied things up. With 12 seconds left in the game, Roman Josi made a pass to Tolvanen to score the game winner.

Josi, Tolvanen and Trenin all scored for the Preds in its win against the New Jersey Devils. Saros was back for the team, blocking unbelievable shots and frustrating the opponent. He only gave up two goals, while saving 29 shots. The second goal he conceded came in the lat minute play when the Preds had already secured the victory.

The Preds finished off the road series with a tough fought 1-0 win against the red-hot Rangers at Madison Square Garden. The game on Sunday, Dec. 12, was the “Jusse Saros Show” when he took on one of the best offenses in the league, blocking all 32 of New York’s shots. Philip Tomasino scored the only goal of the night in the second period, helping lead the Preds to victory.

“I liked the mental focus of the guys: the fortitude to be ready to go and ready to start the game. I liked the energy in the room,” said Hynes in a postgame press conference. “It was a hard fought battle and we found a way to do it.”

The Predators’ game against Calgary on Wednesday, Dec. 14 has been postponed due to a Covid outbreak in the Flames clubhouse. Nashville will now take on Colorado on Thursday, Dec. 16 before immediately hitting the road again to face Chicago on Friday and Carolina on Sunday.

Predators Senior Vice President, Advisor Gerry Helper To Retire

Pictured (L-R): Predators Senior Vice President Gerry Helper and Predators President of Hockey Operations & General Manager David Poile. Photo: Courtesy of the Nashville Predators.

After an extensive hockey career spanning over four decades, Nashville Predators SVP and advisor Gerry Helper has announced his retirement.

Helper has been with the organization since is foundation, joining the Predators and Bridgestone Arena in October 1997 and has served in various communications roles ever since. In addition to his current title as SVP, he’s previously held the position of Chairman of the Board of the Nashville Predators Foundation empowered by SmileDirectClub.

“Not often is reality better than our dreams, but I am so grateful and appreciative to have lived and experienced a career that I couldn’t have possibly dreamed of when I graduated from St. Bonaventure and began this journey,” says Helper. “To begin working for my hometown team (Buffalo), the National Hockey League office, be part of two expansion franchises from Day 1 (Tampa Bay and Nashville) and the 2010 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team has given me a lifetime of memories and friendships that I will forever treasure.”

He continues, “It is the people that made working in this sport so rewarding and I’ve had the privilege to work with Hall of Famers on the ice, behind the bench, in the press box and broadcast booths as well as Hall of Famers off the ice and in the communities, all whom I am lucky enough to call friends. My family and I will always be fans and look forward to watching the Predators’ franchise grow on the ice and continue to contribute to making the community a better place through the work of the Nashville Predators Foundation.”

Since the inception of the Preds Foundation, Helper and the Predators Foundation have awarded more than $7.9 million in grants to Nashville-area charitable organizations, including a single-season record of $735,000 in 2020-21. He’s also been instrumental in the awarding of more than $20 million to the Middle Tennessee community through Predators Foundation grants, the 365 Pediatric Cancer Fund presented by Twice Daily, SmileDirectClub SuperGrants, DEX Score & Win and other programs.

“It is near impossible to properly summarize Gerry’s incredible 40-year career and countless accomplishments in just a few sentences,” says Predators President and CEO Sean Henry. “I entered two organizations that Gerry helped start–Tampa Bay and Nashville. Both organizations today are lauded for so many high points of achievement and success, not just as expansion markets, but as community cornerstones and model franchises for the NHL. Gerry provided the connective tissue for our players to come to life through many touchpoints in our community and, by hand-picking their respective broadcast teams, was as influential in bringing Predators hockey to the world as anyone… I am so grateful for what Gerry created in Smashville and across the NHL map and for the countless lives he touched and impacted so positively.”

Prior to his tenure with the Predators, Helper spent seven years with the Tampa Bay Lightning as the team’s Vice President of Communications from 1991-97. JHelper made an immediate impact in bringing the sport to a new NHL market, hand-picking Pete Weber and Terry Crisp (who coached the Lightning during his time in Tampa Bay) to be the initial members of the Predators’ broadcast team. He also hired John Russell as the Predators’ first, and only, team photographer prior to the inaugural 1998-99 season.

“I want to congratulate Gerry Helper on an illustrious 40-plus year career in the National Hockey League,” says Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile. “We are very fortunate to have had Gerry work for our organization since day one. He was the perfect person to help us start a franchise, having already successfully done so in Tampa Bay, and his wealth of knowledge and history of hockey gave us an advantage right from the beginning. Gerry always put the Predators first, and while we will miss his knowledge and experience, we wish him and his family all the best in retirement.”

Helper also oversaw amateur and youth hockey efforts, including the creation of a street hockey program that delivers equipment to area YMCAs and Metro Parks centers in the first decade of the club’s existence. He also oversaw the launch of the Predators Cup for high school hockey teams; and the introduction of the Get Out and Learn! (G.O.A.L!) program, which provides introductory lessons to young, first-time players at no cost, among other programs.

Predators Acquire Kole Sherwood From Ottawa Senators

Kole Sherwood. Photo: Courtesy of the Nashville Predators

Nashville Predators President have acquired forward Kole Sherwood from the Ottawa Senators for future considerations.

Sherwood has posted four points, one goal, and three assists in 13 games for the Belleville Senators (Ottawa’s AHL affiliate) this season, his fourth as a professional. In the 2020-21 season, Sherwood split time between the NHL and AHL in Columbus’ organization, skating in six games for the Blue Jackets and nine games for the Cleveland Monsters. He recorded his first career NHL point on April 12, 2021 against Chicago.

He made his professional debut with Cleveland in 2016-17 and went on to appear in a career-high 56 games the following season, posting 16 goals and 25 points. In 2019-20, he tallied 13 points, 10 goals, and 3 assists in 43 games for the Monsters. He has skated in 11 career NHL contests and owns 46 points, 30 goals, and 16 assists in 123 career AHL appearances.

The Columbus, Ohio native went undrafted when he was signed by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2015. Sherwood went on to play three OHL seasons from 2015-18, winning the 2016 league title with London and tallying a combined 179 points, 75 goals, and 104 assists in 180 games.

Preds Foundation Awards SuperGrant To Nashville Adult Literacy Council

The Nashville Predators Foundation, empowered by SmileDirectClub, announced that the Nashville Adult Literacy Council (NALC) will be presented with a SuperGrant totaling $70,000 on Monday, Nov. 22, at Bridgestone Arena as the Predators take on the Anaheim Ducks.

Nashville Adult Literacy Council helps teach reading, writing and English-speaking skills to adults. This SuperGrant will help fund the NALC’s virtual tutor program, program licenses and the ability to hire a new staff member to help run the program and directly impact our community’s literacy rate.

“We couldn’t be more excited about this SuperGrant from the Nashville Predators Foundation and SmileDirectClub,” says Nashville Adult Literacy Council CEO Kim Karesh. “Families come to NALC in times of transition, and literacy is a skill that empowers them to learn what they need so they can improve their lives. As one student said to me, ‘when you can read, you can learn anything.'” She continues, “During the pandemic, we had to discontinue some of our tutoring programs, and this grant is helping us bring back tutoring in a virtual format. While we’ve seen great success this year with our online classes, we’ve really been missing the personal connections that happen between our volunteers and our learners. Nothing can replace the friendships that are formed, and we can’t wait to get back to it.”

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the NALC has offered literacy classes virtually. Despite a successful transition to this method, the organization also has many learners who would benefit from the more personalized approach that one-on-one tutoring allows. Using SuperGrant funds, the NALC will continue to bolster its virtual tutoring program to create more one-on-one learning opportunities.

“Through our research, we learned that one in eight Nashville adults is unable to read, which is a staggering statistic,” says Predators Vice President of Community Relations Rebecca King. “With the opportunity to support NALC, we can help not only change this statistic but also change the trajectory of every life that they impact, along with their future generations. The ripple effect of this grant will benefit our community for many, many years to come. After meeting several adult learners, we saw the confidence and pride this program brought them and the love and compassion they have for their tutors who have taught them so much. We are so proud to align ourselves with this amazing organization.”

The NALC has earned eight national awards and two regional awards for outstanding program, staff dedication and student achievement. Since its founding, the organization has also offered citizenship classes, specialized classes pertaining to workplace literacy, GED classes, English-skills for adult immigrants and more.

Bridgestone Arena Nominated For 2021 Pollstar Arena Of The Year

Bridgestone Arena. Photo: Courtesy of the Nashville Predators

Bridgestone Arena has been nominated for Arena of the Year for 2021 by Pollstar Magazine. This is Bridgestone Arena’s 14th consecutive and 17th overall nomination for the award.

Pollstar‘s Arena of the Year award recognizes superior programming, effective promotion and marketing, quality production values and staff, an exemplary experience for fans and artists, and consistent box office success. Bridgestone Arena won the award in 2014 and 2017.

“We are extremely proud to have received our 14th consecutive Pollstar nomination for Arena of the Year, and we want to thank David Kells for his dedication to making Bridgestone Arena the best environment in the sports and entertainment industry for agents, managers, performers, promoters and fans,” says Arena President and CEO Sean Henry. “After a trying for a year and a half, we have been so honored to help bring live entertainment–one of the staples of what makes Smashville such a special place–back to our community. We want to thank our loyal fans for consistently displaying their passion and helping us earn the opportunity to be recognized for this prestigious award.”

Henry was also named to the VenuesNow All-Stars list for 2021, and Executive Vice President of Entertainment & Venues David Kells was nominated for Pollstar‘s Venue Executive of the Year.

“First and foremost, we want to thank our fans for helping us be nominated for this award,” says Kells. “This could not have happened without their unwavering support of all we do–their feedback and passion has made Bridgestone Arena a safe and unique venue to enjoy the best shows on tour. Additionally, we’d like to recognize the countless artists, managers, agents, promoters and crew members for their efforts to help bring live entertainment back to lower Broadway. To be included on the same list as so many other venues and industry executives is a true honor I am very thankful for.”

Bridgestone was nominated for Pollstar‘s Arena of the Decade in 2020 and ranked third in the world and the U.S. for ticket sales in the publication’s third quarter ticket sales report. Pollstar announced Bridgestone Arena’s ticket sales as 82,431, inclusive solely of show and concert tickets, and was ranked behind only Staples Center in Los Angeles and Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

Preds Foundation, 365 Pediatric Cancer Fund Donate $335K To Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital

Pictured: Former Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne. Photo: Courtesy of the Nashville Predators

The Nashville Predators Foundation, empowered by SmileDirectClub, along with the 365 Pediatric Cancer Fund, have donated $335,000 to Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt as the team continues to recognize Hockey Fights Cancer Month in November.

Since its creation during the 2012-13 season by former Predators’ Pekka Rinne and Shea Weber, the 365 Fund has raised over $3.6 million for the life-changing pediatric cancer research that takes place at the Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital.

“Our commitment to Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt and the 365 Pediatric Cancer Fund presented by Twice Daily has been unwavering during the past two very strange years,” says Nashville Predators Vice President of Community Relations Rebecca King. “Thanks to the support of our fans, partners, employees and players we were able to raise over $50,000 more in 2020-21 than we did in 2019-20 when our season was cut short. We are so proud of the work the doctors and researchers can achieve thanks to the donations to this fund. Our organization has built strong relationships and friendships with many families who have received great care and treatment at Children’s Hospital. We are fortunate to have the best of the best health care facilities in our very own back yard.”

Throughout the 2021-22 season, the Predators Foundation will continue efforts to raise money for the 365 Fund through Hockey Fights Cancer nights. On Hockey Fights Cancer nights (Nov. 13 & April 9), child ambassadors will be invited to the game not only to take part in a luxury suite experience but also to participate in special in-game activities like riding the Zamboni and much more. All money raised during the game will benefit the 365 Fund.

“Year after year, we are blown away by the incredible support of the Nashville Predators and Hockey Fights Cancer,” says Debra Friedman, M.D., who holds the E. Bronson Ingram Chair of Pediatric Oncology and is director of the Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology at Children’s Hospital. “The contributions raised through the team’s 365 Pediatric Cancer Fund help us support childhood cancer research, identify new ways of curing pediatric cancer and deliver treatments in the best way possible for each individual child.”

This season, at the Predators Foundation area outside of Section 106/107, during all Predators home games fans can also purchase an ‘I FIGHT FOR’ lavender foam puck to honor or commemorate someone who has been affected by cancer. For $10, they will receive one puck to take home and one to add to the Hockey Fights Cancer bin, representing all those fighting and in memory of those lost in Smashville.

Bridgestone Arena No Longer Enforcing COVID Entry Requirements

Bridgestone Arena. Photo: Courtesy of the Nashville Predators

Bridgestone Arena will no longer require fans and guests to show proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test to attend Nashville Predator games. This will go into effect starting Nov. 13.

All policies and procedures remain subject to change and masks remain strongly recommended for those attending a game or event at Bridgestone Arena. The new protocol also includes concerts and other events unless a specific tour has its own protocols.

“We would like to thank Vanderbilt University Medical Center, the Nashville Health Department and countless other partners for continuing to provide insight that enabled us to bring this good news to the community,” says President and CEO of Bridgestone Arena and the Nashville Predators Sean Henry. “We are encouraged that the data trends are moving briskly in a positive direction; today’s announcement is consistent with our original intention to update our protocols as case counts and transmission levels evolved.”

The relaxing of COVID-19 protocols comes as Davidson County’s transmission level has dropped below the “Substantial Transmission” level in the CDC’s metrics of percentage of positive tests over the past seven days.

The trajectory of the CDC’s other notable metric in measuring the level of community transmission (total new cases per 100,000 persons in the past seven days) is trending downward significantly as well.

“The Metro Public Health Department appreciates Bridgestone Arena’s concern for the health of their fans and for continuing to consult with us on their safety protocols,” says Metro Public Health Bureau Director Hugh Atkins.

The Predators and Bridgestone Arena continue to partner with the health department to offer free COVID-19 vaccinations at the venue in connection with every event. Vaccination opportunities are also held at the Ford Ice Centers in Antioch and Bellevue every other Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. CT.

Predators To Retire Pekka Rinne’s No. 35

The Nashville Predators will retire Pekka Rinne’s No. 35 on Feb. 24, 2022 at Bridgestone Arena ahead of that night’s game against the Dallas Stars.

Rinne, who played his entire 683-game NHL career in Nashville, will become the first player in the history of the Predators organization to have his jersey retired.

“Pekka Rinne defines what it means to be part of the Nashville Predators,” says President and CEO Sean Henry. “From how he trained and played; to how he put so much into so many community-changing programs, from Best Buddies, to the 365 Fund to Feeding the Frontlines; to always being there when Smashville needed a friend, Pekka was always there, doing more than anyone thought a person could. While he is the greatest player to wear our jersey, he was even better as a neighbor and friend to all. His career on and off the ice will take center stage when we raise his sweater to the Bridgestone Arena rafters, but we know that he will be celebrated time and time again, as his impact can’t be contained to just one event.”

Rinne is the franchise’s leader in nearly every goaltending category, including games played, wins (369), goals-against average (2.43), total TOI (39,413:29), shutouts (60) and saves (17,627). He also is 19th in shutouts and tied for 19th in victories in NHL history. In addition to his Predators records, the Finland native also owns the most games played, wins and shutouts by a Finnish-born goaltender in League history.

“After playing my first game with the Nashville Predators in 2005, I could have never dreamed that my jersey would be retired 16 years later,” says Rinne. “It’s the ultimate recognition for an individual player. I’m very grateful for the Predators organization and the city of Nashville. I cannot wait to celebrate that moment with my family, friends, teammates, coaches, staff and the fans at Bridgestone Arena.”

During his outstanding 15-year NHL career, Rinne won the 2018 Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s top goaltender and was a finalist three other times (2011, 2012 and 2015). He was a four-time NHL All-Star (2015, 2016, 2018 and 2020) and was twice voted to the NHL’s year-end All-Star Teams, including a First Team nod in 2017-18.

Rinne’s career goals-against average of 2.43 is tied for the fourth-best mark among goaltenders with at least 350 wins in NHL history, trailing only Dominik Hasek, Martin Brodeur and Jacques Plante. Additionally, Rinne is one of 12 goaltenders in the League’s record books to record at least 350 wins and 60 shutouts, with eight members of that group enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

“As the face of the Predators for more than 15 years, it is only right that the first number to be retired in franchise history is Pekka Rinne’s,” says Predators President of Hockey Operations and GM David Poile. “He is one of, if not the, primary reasons our franchise has grown into what it is today. It’s going to be an incredibly special night not only for Pekka, his family and friends, but for our entire organization. Our congratulations go out to Pekka, his fiancée Erika, son Paulus and the entire Rinne family on this well-deserved honor. We can’t wait to see No. 35 go up into the Bridgestone Arena rafters and share the moment with our fans on Feb. 24.”

Rinne has been an integral part of the Nashville community. A majority of his community work came through the 365 Pediatric Cancer Fund presented by Twice Daily, which he launched alongside former Predators Captain Shea Weber during the 2012-13 season. The fund works with the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt to raise funds and awareness for cancer research. Since the establishment of the fund, donations totaling more than $3 million have been made to the hospital and its programs.