SMASHMOB! THE SURPRISE HOCKEY GAME
As we were carrying out our SmashMob at A-Game Sportsplex in Franklin the other day, it reminded me of a few things.
First of all it took me back to when I was a little kid playing the game. I remember how much I loved being on the ice no matter when it was or for what reason. What it was like to get new gear, even if it was used. The marvel of walking through a fully stocked pro shop that smelled of new wood and leather products. Checking out the latest signature model of gear from names like Gretzky and Kurri or Hextall and Vanbiesbrouck. The bubble hockey machine in the lobby that always had a crowd around it. And a snack bar that I couldn't tell you what it sold but I'm pretty sure I spent my parents' money there.
I set that table for you because I know these kids go through the same things, only the players on their equipment are Crosby and Stamkos, Rinne and Brodeur (and truth be told, Brodeur's gear was popular when I was in HIGH SCHOOL). They have the same excitement to come to the rink at any time, and it will drive them to be as rabid a fan of the game of hockey as I am. As adults they'll go to games, have kids who play, and drag themselves out of bed at 5:30 am for love of the sport. And for two teams on Tuesday night, the Nashville Predators added one more awesome moment to the memory bank.
The idea to take over a youth hockey game spawned almost a month ago, but due to timing and logistics it took a while to find the right opportunity. But when the Predators were finally able to pull it off (and I'm amazed at how well-kept the secret was) it was quite an event. A full color guard presented the Stars and Stripes while Dennis Morgan sang the anthem. Gnash and the dancers were there, inciting the fans to cheer and tossing t-shirts with the ice crew. There was even a drumline leading clapping in between songs from Krazy Kyle and PA announcements from Paul McCann. It was very much a Predators hockey experience writ in miniature – but one that will have long-lasting implications for the families and players who experienced it.
It also made me think about how the game has grown here, even in the five years I've been a part of this organization. Yes, this is the start of my fifth trip around the sun here in Nashville, so it seemed like a good time to reflect. The team itself has made the second round two straight years. Ticket sales were way up again last year. It seems like people have really taken to the gold jerseys and colors. Most of all, I hear people talking about hockey more often than I ever have. And I think it ties firmly into what Nashville is doing even now. While the product on the ice is an NHL hockey team, the front office is made up of hundreds of people who live, work, and play in Middle Tennessee. Sure, we're here in good times and we sing when we're winning. But the organization has done its utmost to stay out in the community and continue to do more even when times aren't that great. We're not going anywhere, and for every single one of us Nashville is home. We will continue to be here, contributing in any way possible. I hope that you may be able to join us or find other ways to support our initiatives, because the community is what we all make of it.
Thanks for staying positive when it's not always easy to do so. Thanks for wearing your Preds gear when you head out. And thanks for realizing that we are all indeed citizens of Smashville.
Until next time, keep your stick on the ice.