Predators Sign Cole Smith To A One-Year, Two-Way Deal

Cole Smith. Photo: Courtesy of the Nashville Predators.

The Nashville Predators have signed Cole Smith to a one, two-way deal worth $750,000 at the NHL level and $70,000 at the AHL level for the 2021-22 season. Smith spent almost all of last season with the Predators AHL affiliate the Chicago Wolves.

Smith made his NHL debut with the Preds against Columbus in the teams season opener on Jan. 14. In his debut, he recorded one shot in 5:57 of ice time. While with the Wolves in the AHL, he helped them to a 21-9-1-2 record, the third-best mark in the league. He appeared in 23 games for the Wolves, posting five goals and 10 points, tied for the sixth-most among team rookies. Prior to the start of the NHL season, Smith made his professional debut with the ECHL’s Florida Everblades and tallied three points (1 goals, 2 assist) in five contests.

The Brainerd, Minn. native was signed as a free agent in March 2020 following a four-year career at the University of North Dakota, where he posted 51 points (24 goals, 27 assist) in 137 games. In his final season with the Fighting Hawks, he contributed a career-high 18 points (11 goals, 7 assists) en route to winning the NCHC’s regular-season title.

This move comes after the trade of Viktor Arvidsson and the retirement of all-star goalie of Pekka Rinne. The Predators have eight picks in his years NHL Draft including the 18th overall pick which is set for July 23 and 24.

Pekka Rinne Retires After 15 Years With The Nashville Predators

Pekka Rinne in his final home match against Carolina on May 10. Photo: by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images

Nashville Predator’s goaltender Pekka Rinne has announced his retirement after spending 15 years with the team and playing 683 games in front of the net.

Rinne has solidified himself on the Mount Rushmore of Nashville athletes with the amount of success he has brought to the Preds. He was drafted by the Predators in the eighth round (258th overall) of the 2004 NHL Draft. Rinne led the team to the 2017 Stanley Cup Final and the 2018 President’s Trophy, winning the Vezina Trophy that same year for best goalie. He leads the organization in almost every goaltender stat including games played, wins (369), goals-against average (2.43), total TOI (39,413:29), shutouts (60), and saves (17,627). In NHL history, he sits 19th in shutouts and is tied for 19th in victories. He finished his career with a record of 369-213-75.

“For more than 15 years, I’ve been on an incredible, life-changing journey with the Nashville Predators that has taken me to more places than I could have ever imagined and given me more than I could ever hope to give back,” says Rinne. “This decision wasn’t easy, but I know this is the right one at the right time. As I announce my retirement, I’m thankful for my parents, sisters, fiancé Erika, everyone in the Predators organization–management, coaches and trainers–my teammates and my youth coaches back in Finland. Last but not least, I’m thankful for the people of Nashville. Each of you helped me grow into the man, father, and person I am today.”

Rinne was also a finalist for the Vezina Trophy in 2011, 2012 and 2015. He is a four-time NHL All-Star (2015, 2016, 2018, 2019) 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, all of whom are Hall of Famers.

“For years, Pekka has been the face of our franchise on and off the ice,” says Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile. “The role he played in making the Predators organization into something so much more than just a hockey team cannot be understated, and what he means to our team and community makes him one of the most special players and people you’ll ever meet. It’s cliché of what you would want from your best players, but Pekka gave us a chance to win in every single game he played and led our team during the most competitive era of our franchise. While we will miss his talent and leadership in our locker room, we want to congratulate him and his family on an exceptional career, and we’re all looking forward to seeing him continue to make a positive impact on our community in the years to come.”

In his final season with the Predators, Rinne made 24 appearances, went 10-12-1, and posted a shutout in his final game against Carolina on May 10 at Bridgestone Arena. This past June, he won the 2021 King Clancy Memorial Trophy for his dedication and charity work in the Nashville community over the past 15 years.

“Nashville has become my home, and I have tried to make this community a better place than when I first arrived,” says Rinne. “Over time, I’ve learned what this organization is all about, and that’s family. I’ll cherish the memories and friendships I’ve made for the rest of my life.”

Predators Trade Viktor Arvidsson To LA Kings For 2021, 2022 NHL Draft Picks

Viktor Arvidsson. Photo: Courtesy of the Nashville Predators

The Nashville Predators have traded forward Viktor Arvidsson to the LA Kings for their 2021 second-round pick and 2022 third-round pick, General Manager David Poile announced Thursday (July 1.)

“We want to thank Viktor for all he did to propel our organization forward during his time with the Predators,” says Poile. “His work ethic, tenacity and goal-scoring ability–as shown by his franchise single-season record of 34 goals during the 2018-19 season–made him a key part of our teams that reached the 2017 Stanley Cup Final, won the 2018 Presidents’ Trophy and earned back-to-back Central Division titles. We wish him and his family all the best moving forward in Los Angeles.”

The Swedish native was drafted by the Predators in 2014 with the 112 overall pick in the fourth round of the NHL Draft. Arvidsson played 50 games this past season, scoring 10 goals and assisting 15 to pick up 25 points. Arvidsson had a career-high 61 points in both the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons. He scored a career-high 34 goals in 2018-19 for the Preds.

The Predators now own eight picks, including three of the top 50 selections, in the 2021 NHL Draft. Among them are one in the first, third, fifth, and sixth rounds, and two in the second and fourth rounds. Nashville currently holds seven picks in the 2022 NHL Draft, including one in the first, second, fourth, fifth, and seventh rounds and two in the third round.

ESPN Announces Full NHL Broadcast Roster For 2021-2022 Season

ESPN has announced the full roster of broadcasters and reporters for their upcoming NHL coverage starting in the 2021-22 season. The group is led by  veteran play-by-play broadcasters Sean McDonough and Steve Levy along with former players like NHL Hall of Famer Mark Messier and U.S. Olympic gold-medalist Hillary Knight.

The current broadcasting deal with The Walt Disney Company, which lasts through the 2027-28 season, gives ESPN, ABC, ESPN+, and Hulu broadcast rights for NHL regular-season games and Stanley Cup Playoff games. Along with McDonough and Levy, John BuccigrossBob Wischusen, and Leah Hextall will also add their voices to play-by-play. Hextall has been a part of ESPN’s NCAA Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Championship and World Cup of Hockey coverage since 2016. She will also serve as a reporter for some games throughout the season.

“This new and groundbreaking lineup will bring the NHL to an expanding legion of passionate fans,” says Jimmy Pitaro, chairman of ESPN and Sports Content. “We set out to put together a roster that would excite, engage, and educate the entire range of fans – from diehard to casual – while inspiring the next generation. With this lineup, we believe we have done just that. We could not be more excited to welcome this talented and diverse group to the ESPN hockey family.”

Former Stanley Cup champion Chris Chelios will also be part of the lineup. Others who have proven their stardom both on the ice and on the air include Ray FerraroBrian BoucherCassie Campbell-PascallKevin WeekesRyan CallahanA.J. MleczkoRick DiPietro, as well as former NHL player and coach, and ESPN legend Barry Melrose.

Hall of Fame sportscaster Linda Cohn will continue to host In the Crease, ESPN+’s nightly hockey program, during the NHL season, in addition to anchoring SportsCenter and contributing to NHL coverage and programming. ESPN newcomer Blake Bolden, along with Emily Kaplan and Greg Wyshynski, will handle reporting duties.

ESPN Deportes’ Kenneth Garay and Eitán Benezra will handle play-by-play commentary with Carlos Rossell and Antonio Valle contributing analysis and color commentary for NHL games on ESPN Deportes.

The Predators To Host Stadium Series Game At Nissan Stadium

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has announced that the Nashville Predators will be hosting an NHL Stadium Series game at Nissan Stadium against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Feb. 26, 2022.

“Nashville loves being home to the Preds,” says Nashville Mayor John Cooper. “They are a great team and strong partners in our community, giving us reasons and opportunities to rally together on and off the ice. We’ll be cheering for them from the Metro Courthouse when they take on Tampa Bay in the NHL Stadium Series this winter.”

The news comes in tandem with the announcement that the 2022 All-Star game will be held in Las Vegas, and that the 2022 Winter Classic between the St. Louis Blues and the Minnesota Wild will be played at Target Field, the home of the Minnesota Twins.

While the Predators have never hosted an outdoors hockey game, the team did play in the 2020 Winter Classic against the Dallas Stars at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. For that match-up, country group Midland performed the pre-game concert on the ice while crossover duo Dan + Shay played during the first intermission. Performers have yet to be announced for February’s Stadium Series game in Nashville.

“The NHL Stadium Series has visited many of our country’s premier outdoor sports venues, and we’re honored to have Nissan Stadium join that list this upcoming February,” Tennessee Titans President and CEO Burke Nihill says. “Hosting the Predators at our home is such a unique opportunity to bring a big piece of Nashville’s sports community together in one place, and we’d like to extend our thanks to the NHL for allowing this to happen. We can’t wait for Nashville to experience the magic of outdoor hockey at Nissan Stadium.”

This will be the Tampa Bay Lightning’s first outdoors game, becoming the 27th team to participate in one. The Lightning are the reigning 2020 Stanley Cup Champions and are attempting to hold on to the title as they play the Montreal Canadians with a 1-0 series lead in this year’s Stanley Cup Finals.

The Predators finished the 2021 season by making the Stanley Cup Playoffs after a slow start to the season. The Nashville team lost 4-2 to the Carolina Hurricanes in the first round of the playoffs.

Former Hockey Star Mark Messier To Join ESPN As NHL Analyst

Mark Messier. Photo: Courtesy of the NHL

Six-time Stanley Cup Champion Mark Messier will be joining ESPN as an NHL Analyst after signing a new multi-year agreement to be a signature part of its NHL coverage, beginning with the 2021-22 season.

“Mark has been one of the NHL’s biggest and most iconic stars, and we are ecstatic to have him be a large part of our upcoming hockey coverage,” says ESPN Executive Vice President and Executive Editor, Production Norby Williamson. “As a six-time Stanley Cup Champion, he will bring incredible insight, knowledge and analysis to ESPN and The Walt Disney Company that will both resonate with fans, and connect more and more of them to the game and to the league.”

The only player in history to captain two teams to Stanley Cup titles, Messier is widely considered one of the NHL’s greatest players. Messier skated 25 seasons in the NHL, and the 15-time NHL All-Star is the third-most prolific points scorer in regular season history and second-highest in playoff points. He was awarded the Hart Memorial Trophy in 1990 and 1992 as the league’s most valuable player, and won the Conn Smythe trophy in 1984 as the most valuable player during the NHL Playoffs. Messier was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2007.

“The game of hockey, and the NHL, have afforded me enormous opportunity, success and experiences on the ice and in my life,” says Messier. “My passion for the game is as strong as it has ever been and I am looking forward to sharing that passion, plus my insights and analysis with the sport’s incredible fans… The NHL is beginning a new era with ESPN and The Walt Disney Company — with an exciting, evolving game and phenomenally talented players — and I am thrilled to be a part of the team.”

Prior to joining ESPN, Messier appeared occasionally as a studio analyst on Versus’ coverage of the NHL, as well as serving as an in-game analyst for the NHL All-Star Game. Messier also made occasional guest commentator appearances for NHL on NBC, and in 2014 joined Rogers Communications as a spokesperson and occasional analyst for Rogers’ national NHL coverage in Canada.

Timbaland’s Beatclub, NHL Partner To Help Curate Music Through 2021 Playoffs

The NHL has announced a partnership with Grammy Award-winning producer Timbaland’s Beatclub, the world’s premier global marketplace for music creators. Through this partnership, the NHL will feature Beatclub and Timbaland’s vast catalog of exclusive music, beats, and songs throughout the duration of the 2020-21 season, including the 2021 Stanley Cup Semifinals, 2021 Stanley Cup Final, 2021 NHL Draft, and the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft.

“Hockey highlights are awesome when set to hip hop, so we’re thrilled to have Timbaland and his partners come together with us at the most exciting time of our year, the Stanley Cup Final,” says  Steve Mayer, NHL Chief Content Officer. “This new curated library of music is another example of how the NHL is listening to what our young fans and players are asking for and is happy to deliver. We’re psyched to be working with one of the greatest music producers of all time.”

Beatclub will collaborate with the NHL to curate music for use in television and radio broadcasts of NHL games and events, in-arena integrations, and across social media and other digital platforms. In addition, Beatclub music will be available for use in “Quest For The Stanley Cup,” the weekly documentary series chronicling the remaining teams in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs. This marks Beatclub’s first partnership with a professional sports league.

“The collaboration no one saw coming! I’ve always loved the speed and passion of NHL action and we at Beatclub are ready to bring a whole new level of excitement with the music we have planned for the League and its teams,” says Timbaland.

Beatclub, launched last year by Timbaland, features a hand-selected roster of some of the most successful artists, producers, and songwriters in music. Artist-producers like Mike WiLL Made-It, Mike Dean, Tainy, J. Cole, Rance of 1500, and many others have signed on with Beatclub to serve as the exclusive marketplace for their songs, beats, and soundpacks. The partnership will also give NHL clubs access to the Beatclub music library.

Sabertooth Sports and Entertainment Partners With Iroquois Steeplechase

Sabertooth Sports and Entertainment has partnered with Iroquois Steeplechase to offer all sports fans the exclusive opportunity to rent a box for the 80th anniversary of the event on Saturday, June 26, at Percy Warner Park. A portion of proceeds from the event will benefit the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt University.

“We are pleased to partner this year with one of Nashville’s most time-honored and treasured events, Iroquois Steeplechase,” says Sean Henry, president and CEO of SS&E and the Nashville Predators. “Recognized as the premier spring event in Nashville, Iroquois Steeplechase is much more than a race, it is an event, bringing together more than 25,000 people each year for a day of excitement, entertainment, and plenty of suspense and intrigue delivered by the race itself.”

Iroquois Steeplechase was first contested in 1941 in a valley at Percy Warner Park on a course that was constructed by the Works Progress Administration. Volunteers for the race came from local fox hunters, among others. Those volunteers later created the Volunteer State Horsemen’s Association (now Foundation), which today remains the governing body of the race meet under the leadership of Steeplechase Chairman Dwight Hall.

“Perhaps most importantly, the Volunteer State Horsemen’s Foundation has been able to use Steeplechase as a vehicle to raise more than $4 million for the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt University over the years,” says Henry. “We thank the Foundation for giving SS&E the opportunity to get involved and drive even more fans for Steeplechase and more revenue for the Children’s Hospital and the event’s other charitable partners.”

By renting a box for the 2021 Iroquois Steeplechase, fans can enjoy the premiere race day experience with access to the most exclusive parties of the day and the best views of the finish line, where all the action can be seen. Limited boxes are available now and include armbands for eight or ten people and two parking passes. Premium add-on options are also available in the Turf Club, Paddock Club, and Iroquois Society.