There may be no place like Nashville in the NHL Every trip to this little city that could is memorable.
I was here in 2003 for the draft when the city was still finding its way as a NHL market.
I was here in the winter of 2016 when Nashville threw an All-Star Game celebration that won't soon be forgotten, and again a few months later when playoff fever enveloped this city during the Western Conference Second Round Series against the San Jose Sharks.
Each trip has allowed me to appreciate another something that Nashville has to offer.
This time, the vibrant music scene, whether it's the bands playing at honky tonks like Tootsie's Orchard Lounge or Legend's Corner, or the big-name acts at Bridgestone Arena or Ryman Auditorium, was a dominant theme.
On this trip, I was able to catch a Neil Diamond concert on one of the off days. Diamond is celebrating his 50th anniversary, but he is still an unbelievable showman.
The vibe in this city when music royalty in town is unlike any place else. Music is a part of the culture here, and the locals cherish it.
The other theme was how big this city has become. I already knew about Broadway and Music Row, the area where I've stayed during my last three visits. But this time, I got to experience some other areas.
I spent a night in an area called The Gulch, one of Nashville's up-and-coming neighborhoods. I also toured a bit of the Belmont/Hillsboro Village neighborhood; Cutler Klein, our intern from last summer, took me to Martin's Bar-B-Que Joint. He insisted it was the best in the city and I found it hard to disagree after a sampler platter of the pulled pork and brisket and some hush puppies.
I certainly have had enough barbecue, having eating at Jack's, The Row and Martin's. But when in Rome …
Friday, I say goodbye to this city again. I'm flying back home after the most unexpected and improbable series sweep in my long history of covering the NHL.
I hope to be back soon, perhaps as early as the next round. Whenever it is, there will surely be more to explore.