Nashville stars have learned all about hockey – The Detroit News
Nashville, Tenn. — Terry Crisp sorely wishes that he and fellow broadcaster Pete Weber had recorded their “Hockey 101” sessions from the early days of the Nashville Predators.
The expansion franchise had tapped the original broadcast team to teach hockey rules in a market where fans knew what a sack meant in football and why conserving fuel can matter so much in NASCAR. The Predators held class in a small theater to explain the rules for a sport many had seen before only on TV.
Crisp says he and Weber still chuckle when they think of the line changes that looked like fire drills to the new fans.
“No matter how often we explained it, no matter how we tried to explain it, they couldn’t figure it out,” Crisp said. “Pete and I should have written all these down. It was fun, and we tried to make it educational.”
The fans learned well and their team has put on a master class this postseason in reaching its first Stanley Cup Final. The excitement in “Smashville” over their team should reach a new level Saturday night when the Predators host their first Final with Game 3 against Pittsburgh, which leads the series 2-0.
The bandwagon is bulging with country stars, pro athletes and people swelling with civic pride for the best show in Music City.
Just call it a bucket list item — even for those who can’t get inside Bridgestone Arena — with the outdoor watch parties and star Alan Jackson giving a free concert before Game 3.
“I’m not working for the Chamber of Commerce, but I’m telling you, you and your friends would never regret a visit to Nashville to see a game,” Predators general manager David Poile said. “It’s a tremendous atmosphere. It’s second to none. It’s the best in sports right now.”
Not bad for a franchise that once handed out headphones allowing ticket buyers to hear the rules explained during games. Crisp, who won two Stanley Cups as a player and a third as a coach, and Weber were the franchise’s biggest faces teaching hockey, both in the theater classroom and on TV and radio.
At least fans recognized Steve Carlson and his brother as the Hanson brothers from “Slap Shot” fame when they busted into one Hockey 101 lesson.
“That helped our frames of reference in any case,” Weber said.
Country music stars have helped from the beginning when Vince Gill and Amy Grant both appeared on billboards pushing ticket sales.
Now the biggest guessing game is which star will sing the national anthem next. Carrie Underwood, wife of Predators captain Mike Fisher, started it off before Game 3 against Chicago in the first round and has been followed by Luke Bryan, Keith Urban and Trisha Yearwood — with her husband, Garth Brooks, staying just off the ice.
Jason Aldean, the reigning Academy of Country Music entertainer of the year, came to Nashville from Georgia about the same time as the Predators started setting up shop. He learned the rules of hockey thanks to video games on PlayStation.
Will he sing the anthem?
“You never know,” Aldean said. “We got to be in town. Their schedule is crazy.”
Legendary country singer Alan Jackson is going to play a free outdoor concert in Music City in advance of Saturday’s Game 3.