Nashville Predators: The Only Central Division Team I Don’t Hate*

*I mean, not counting the Blues. Obviouusly I love them, but dislike the Blackhawks, Red Wings, and Blue Jackets on matter of principle.

It’s funny. I’d never been to Nashville to catch a Predators game before this season, despite hearing nothing but good stuff. This year? So far I’ve been twice, and will probably be going back. Part of that’s because Nashville’s the closest place to watch a NHL game live for me, and part of it is that it’s fun. I detailed my opinions of it after a pre-season game against the Winnipeg Jets, and I just want to reiterate what I said before – this is what hockey is in the South. An identity, tie in to the city’s culture, solid owners and management – all this lures a huge and passionate fanbase to Smashville.

There were an absolute ton of Blues fans at the game, and the competing “LET’S GO PREDATORS” chants and “LET’S GO BLUES” chants reminded me a lot of when the Pens or Flyers came to Philips Arena; it just wound up sounding like “LET’S GO *garbled drunken sound*.” It wasn’t the usual hostile environment between large amounts of visiting fans and the home crowd, though. Everyone tolerated everyone else. There were a few instances of chirping, but really, the Preds fans were awesome. The girls I sat next to discussed just about everything about their team with me, and vice versa; she even listened to my whining of how these were the same seats I had in Atlanta and how depressing it was for me (and it was – being back in that exact same spot about made me cry). Totally tolerant of me cheering for the Blues’ token goal, totally ok with me disagreeing on penalties – and totally confused with me agreeing that the Blues got away with a few.

Super nice concessions employees, polite fans – KNOWLEDGEABLE fans – and a fun culture. If someone in the NHL could please ensure that in the re-alignment the Predators aren’t in the same division as the Blues, that’d be great. I’d love to be able to go to a game and cheer for the Preds, but since they’re divisional rivals with the Blues that isn’t going to happen any time soon. They’re not *hated* divisional rivals, though. There was no smack talk at dinner between our group of fans and the Preds fans, they didn’t heckle the team, and I didn’t hear anyone complain about “how dirty the Blues are” (Columbus fans who’re still pissed off about a soccer match, I’m looking at you). Heck, even after the game at the Beer Sellars, when someone decided to play Journey’s “Don’t Stop Beliving” four freaking times, this happened:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=

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Yup. Blues and Preds fans, coming together in total harmony against a common foe. Sure, Detroit probably doesn’t consider either team to be their rivals since the Red Wings are on some plateau by themselves or something, but it’s still fun to meet fans of another team that share something in common with fans of your team.

Finally, I want one of these for the Blues to skate out of. It’d probably wind up being a giant Louie head, but just once:

Rawr!

Anywho, Nashville, I’ll be back. Not sure when, but the Blues’re back in February, so pencil me in for that one.

About Laura Astorian

Laura Astorian is the head editor for the SB Nation blog St. Louis Game Time and has been a Blues fan from childhood. She promises that any anti-Blackhawks bias will be left at the door. Maybe.