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Visual Impairment Doesn’t Deter Preds’ Day One Season Ticketholder

Wednesday, 05.9.2012 / 4:12 PM CT / Features
By Doug Brumley  - Nashville Predators
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Visual Impairment Doesn\u2019t Deter Preds\u2019 Day One Season Ticketholder

Nashvillian Patrick Yarber has a laundry list of hockey experiences that would make most fans jealous. He’s attended 800 professional hockey games in close to 60 arenas and has a collection of about 250 game pucks. As a Predators season ticketholder since Day One, he’s made it to nearly 600 Preds home games.

Yarber even dreams of being a hockey play-by-play announcer, but there’s one limiting factor: He’s legally blind. “That’s kind of hard if you can’t see the puck,” he says dryly.

Yarber, 50, suffers from two progressive eye diseases: retinitis pigmentosa (“It’s where your peripheral vision keeps closing in on you and you’re basically down to what they call gun barrel vision,” he explains) and macular degeneration (“which affect the central part of your vision,” he says). He was forced to retire about a year ago, he says.

For him, tracking the puck is the hardest part of watching a game. “A lot of times I’m sitting there at the game and can’t really focus so I always have my Walkman with me so I can hear Pete [Weber] and [Terry Crisp] or Tom Callahan,” he says. “I carry binoculars with me. I have a game bag. Probably everyone there at the arena recognizes [me]. I carry these brown grocery bags with a handle, and I have my binoculars, I have my Walkman, I have my cane.”

Yarber grew up in Detroit, moved to Nashville in the mid-‘70s and was attending hockey games long before the Predators came to town. Whether it was Nashville’s minor league teams like the Knights and Nighthawks or trips to Detroit or St. Louis for NHL matches, he was an enthusiastic and educated fan once the Predators arrived. He bought season tickets and didn’t miss a preseason or regular season game for the first eight seasons.

“Even though I don’t necessarily see every little thing on the ice as it happens,” he says, “I know enough about what’s going on and with the lighting and so forth and the radio and my binoculars, I’m not starved for what’s going on on the ice by any means.”

A fan of the Red Wings since he was 5 years old, Yarber still has a fondness for his childhood team. Yet he found himself pulling hard for the Predators in their first round match-up against Detroit this playoff season. He says the Red Wings’ first visit to Nashville—amid an ice storm on December 23, 1998—is his favorite Predators memory.

“I figured there would be absolutely no one there because the minor league teams didn’t draw well, the Predators were only a couple of months old, the weather was treacherous… and we got in there and the place was absolutely packed,” Yarber recalls.

“I still think that was the most electric atmosphere that I’ve been in at a Predators game.”

A detailed person who keeps statistics about every game he attends, Yarber says the Predators’ most recent home game—Game 4 against Phoenix on May 4—marked the 800th professional hockey game that he’s seen live. It’s a love for the sport and its speed that keeps him coming back as a Predators season ticketholder year after year.

“Maybe it’s my therapy, maybe it’s my mental well-being medicine or whatever you want to say, but there’s just something about coming down to the Bridgestone Arena,” he says. “I see pretty much the same people that work there all the time. There’s just something about the atmosphere, the brightness, the coolness. And I think Barry Trotz is an awesome coach. If they played 80 [home] games a year, I’d come to 80 games a year.”

SMASHVILLE CENTRAL

SCHEDULE
 

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS
 

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 CHI 56 36 16 4 158 128 76
2 DAL 53 33 15 5 170 142 71
3 STL 55 30 17 8 132 129 68
4 LAK 51 31 17 3 135 117 65
5 SJS 51 27 20 4 147 138 58
6 NSH 53 25 20 8 136 139 58
7 COL 55 27 24 4 148 152 58
8 ANA 51 25 19 7 113 121 57
9 MIN 52 23 20 9 127 126 55
10 ARI 52 24 22 6 138 161 54
11 VAN 52 20 20 12 120 142 52
12 CGY 51 23 25 3 134 148 49
13 WPG 52 23 26 3 136 150 49
14 EDM 54 21 28 5 132 164 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
R. Josi 53 10 27 -2 37
S. Weber 53 14 21 -4 35
F. Forsberg 53 15 18 -6 33
M. Ribeiro 53 6 27 3 33
J. Neal 53 19 13 18 32
M. Ekholm 53 6 16 3 22
R. Ellis 52 6 15 2 21
C. Smith 53 11 6 -1 17
C. Jarnkrok 52 9 7 0 16
C. Wilson 36 4 12 0 16
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Rinne 20 17 7 .904 2.50
C. Hutton 5 2 1 .916 2.36