NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Maybe the third time's a charm for Jason Arnott
Arnott will make his belated return to Nashville on Thursday night when the Blues and Predators square off in a key Central Division showdown at Bridgestone Arena.
The 37-year-old missed out on his first opportunity to return to Nashville because he was suffering from the flu when the Blues visited Dec. 17. He also missed the last visit 19 days ago after injuring his left shoulder the previous night in a home game against the Los Angeles Kings.
"It's always a little weird, but you always have great memories being here," said Arnott, who spent four seasons from 2006-10 with the Predators, three of them as captain. "I loved playing here, great city to be in. The game's changed so much in the past year with all the new faces over there, I don't know half of them. It's crazy how things change."
Arnott, who had 229 points in 275 career games with the Predators, went into general manager David Poile's office in the summer of 2010 and had asked for a contract extension. He was moving into the final year of a five-year, $22.5 million contract and wanted to know what the team's plans for him were.
Center - STL
GOALS: 13 | ASST: 13 | PTS: 26
SOG: 114 | +/-: 11
The Predators chose to move in a different direction and dealt Arnott to the New Jersey Devils for Matt Halischuk and a 2011 second-round pick.
"It was a mutual thing," Arnott said. "... They couldn't give me an answer. They were kind of going towards a little younger (lineup). It was time for me to move on at that time, and if they were willing to move me, then I would have been moved.
"I had a no-move and no-trade (clause). We just parted ways on good terms and that was it."
Arnott was part of a tumultuous season with the Devils before being traded to Washington at the deadline last season. This past summer, he signed a one-year contract with the Blues.
He has 13 goals and 26 points in 53 games playing a third-line role and has fit in nicely in St. Louis.
"He's having fun playing for us right now," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said of Arnott. "He's been a good player for us. He's helped us a lot. He's scored big goals.
"When we're coming with those three big centers right now, it's a big 1-2-3 punch for us right now."
Arnott recalls his memories with the Predators and his time in the city with fondness.
"I enjoyed it. It was a lot of fun," he said. "I experienced a lot of great things, made the playoffs three out of the four years that I was here and did some good things for a small-market team. I got to experience being more of a leader, being more of a top guy and being the captain. I had a lot of fun doing that and learned a lot."