In 10 seasons, the Nashville Predators have anointed five players with the prestigious captain’s “C” – Tom Fitzgerald (1998-2002), Greg Johnson (2002-06), Kimmo Timonen (2006-07), Jason Arnott (2007-present) and, for a brief time, Scott Walker from Jan. 12-27, 2003.
It all started with Fitzgerald the summer of 1998, who was immediately named captain upon signing as a free agent. He spent his four seasons of captaincy mentoring a young Predators contingent that would blossom into the team’s playoff core down the road.
“It was a fantastic honor, and my proudest moment as a player to be named captain,” Fitzgerald said. “For David Poile, Barry Trotz and Craig Leipold to think of me in that regard to lead a young team in the right direction was a tremendous honor. It taught me a lot about myself – enjoying being around the younger players and talent, and helping try to guide them in the right direction as a pro. I held wearing the ‘C’ in high esteem and I am thankful for that, and the Predator organization. To see them grow to where they are now, I’d like to think I had a hand in that – watching the growth of guys like Legwand, Hartnell and Timonen. It taught me a lot about winning championships from within.”
A mainstay since taking the franchise’s first faceoff on Oct. 10, 1998, Greg Johnson was the team’s next captain, and served as a quiet leader, most notably helping the team reach the playoffs for the first two occasions in team history.
“I think it is an honor that only 30 players a year get to have – wearing that letter,” Johnson said of his term as captain. “It was an honor to be chosen to wear the ‘C’ and I did the best I could.”
Timonen’s reign as captain was short, but productive. He led the team to its best finish in franchise history in 2006-07 – 51 wins and 110 points, good for third-best in the entire league.
Arnott was named captain prior to this season, bringing a dimension to the position the Predators had never seen before. The 2006 free-agent signee came to the Music City after scoring the Stanley Cup-clinching goal for the New Jersey Devils in 2000.
“We signed Jason in the summer of 2006 for his on-ice contributions, but we were also very interested in him for his leadership and experience,” general manager David Poile said. “He has been one of the most consistent offensive contributors in the league over the last decade, has won the Stanley Cup and is a commanding and respected presence within our dressing room.”