-- Maybe the hockey gods didn't have it scripted for Jason Arnott
to make his return to Nashville in a visiting uniform for the first time since being traded in 2010. But as the St. Louis Blues
visit Music City for the third, and final, time in the regular season, it looks like a third time's going to be a charm.
Arnott will make his belated return Thursday night when the Blues and Nashville Predators
square off in a key Central Division showdown here at Bridgestone Arena.
The 37-year-old missed out on his first opportunity because he was suffering from the flue when the Blues were first here Dec. 17. He also missed the last visit here 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."
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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.
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."
Players rarely admit it publicly, but there's always that itch and eagerness to show the team that it made the wrong decision in letting the player go.
In Arnott's case, a game-winner Thursday night would fit the bill.
"That would be great," he said. "It would put us on the winning track again."