Nashville kicks off its 10th anniversary season Thursday as it welcomes the re-vamped Colorado Avalanche to the Sommet Center.
For the Predators, the drop of the puck will serve as a showcase of off-season changes, as no less than five new faces are expected to be in the lineup – Greg de Vries, Jed Ortmeyer, Martin Gelinas, Radek Bonk and Dan Ellis.
Each of the newcomers brings a common quality to the 2007-08 edition of the Predators: toughness. They aren’t necessarily supposed to replace the roles of departed players Paul Kariya, Kimmo Timonen, Peter Forsberg and Tomas Vokoun, but they will bring resiliency, experience and grit to a squad that has lacked it in the past.
Both de Vries and Gelinas have won Stanley Cups – with Colorado in 2001 and Edmonton in 1990, respectively. Bonk is a dependable defensive forward with offensive skill, while Ortmeyer brings another workmanlike attitude to the locker room. Ellis’ stellar play during training camp earned him a spot with the big squad.
This summer, the Avs inked two of the highest profiled unrestricted free agents on the market, plucking ruthless blueliner Scott Hannan from San Jose and “Captain Canada,” Ryan Smyth, from Long Island.
Hannan adds a physical presence to a defensive corps that boasts John-Michael Liles, Jordan Leopold and Brett Clark, while Smyth gets his goals the hard way – gaining position in front of the opposition’s net to tip point shots and put home rebounds. Smyth joins talented youngsters Paul Stastny, Wojtek Wolski and Marek Svatos, in addition to future Hall of Famer Joe Sakic and sniper Milan Hejduk, among the forward contingent.
Plaza activities like inflatable games, live music and radio station broadcasts commence at 4 p.m., and all fans will receive a 10th anniversary season long-sleeved t-shirt courtesy of First Tennessee and Signature Tower. Other festivities include the popular shirts off their backs promotion where fans can win autographed jerseys worn by the players, and a post-game radio show live from the Suite Level Club.