Ray Wright – Let’s Go to Preds!

Two weeks ago at this place, I declared a fair week as one of my favorite times of the year. And now we come to another game – the return of NHL hockey.

The Nashville Predators will start the main part of their pre-season schedule with a double header on Monday at Bridgestone Arena and that can’t happen fast enough for their tastes.

While I’ve been following every sport equally, nowadays the year is split into two parts as far as I’m concerned – predator season and off-season predators.

Hockey fans were born along with the upbringing of the NHL team in Nashville. As a sports-obsessed boy who grew up in a state with no major professional sports teams, I was a beggar, not a choice, when it came to the prospect of finally getting my sports team to take root relatively nearby. So, when it seemed like hockey was going to be the sport (before the NFL’s Oilers made their move) I was ready to give the sport I know only from the Sega Genesis games a chance.

I was a freshman in college before the predators and oilers/giants arrived. Because of that, my Dallas Cowboys fan base was already well established, making it difficult to stop that and immediately switch to a new NFL team.

But predators made a fresh start. I could only name a few hockey teams, so there were no competing loyalties to the newcomers. I was ready to learn and grow with this new team that was destined to struggle for years before reaching a competitive level. As a lifelong Fandy football fan (thank you dad, for putting me through this life of suffering at such a young age), rooting for a team I knew had little chance of success wasn’t.

My friend Chris Key and I attended the first game in the history of the Nashville Predators on October 10, 1998, and my fandom life has never been the same. Even though the Breeds didn’t score in that first game, I looked at Chris and said, “That’s the thing for me now.”

I went to the library (remember those?) the next day and bought “Hockey for Dummies” and studied all I could know about hockey. After attending 25 games in the first two seasons, she became a full season ticket holder in 2000 and has remained one ever since.

My fan base was so deep that my wife, Ashley, surprised me with a visit from a predatory mascot, Ganache, at our wedding at First Baptist Church in 2009. The wedding was scheduled a week earlier than the three home mail games we attended as part of our honeymoon week in Nashville.

I’ve now attended 488 NHL games – that’s right, I kind of count them. I’ve been to every Predators home playoff game in the franchise’s history. Along the way, there have been some great memories, none of which topped the Stanley Cup Final in 2017.

Each season brings a new hope that success can be repeated and surpassed. So this is a new beginning and renewed hope. Let’s go brads!

Seth Wright can be reached at (931) 473-2191

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