Upon arriving via the Expansion Draft in the summer of 1998, Mike Dunham took Nashville by storm, embracing the southern lifestyle and in becoming the first face of the franchise – showing up on billboards everywhere and hanging with music celebrities around town.
On the ice, the Johnson City, N.Y., native did not disappoint either. In four-plus seasons with the Preds, Dunham played 217 games, accumulating 81 victories. Arguably the best season of his career came in a Nashville uniform during the 2000-01 campaign when he posted a 21-21-4 record, a 2.28 goals-against average and .923 save percentage – the second-best mark in the National Hockey League.
Dunham also put together what still stands as the franchise’s top goaltending effort to this day just five games into the inaugural season, when he stopped 52 shots against the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena on Oct. 21, 1998. Perhaps most impressive that night was that Dunham kept the young Predators in the game, despite the feeling that the visitors from Nashville spent most of the tilt skating uphill. Detroit took a one-goal lead into the third period despite having outshot Nashville 40-7 through two periods, and the Predators tied the game at 1-1 only 1:04 into the third period.
Dunham left the Music City midway through the 2002-03 season for the New York Rangers, where he spent two seasons, before playing in Atlanta in 2005-06 and winding down his career with the New York Islanders last season. Upon retiring, Dunham stayed on Long Island, and now serves as the Isles Goaltending Coach.