The Nashville Predators will play their 1,300th game as a franchise on Friday, a matinee matchup with the Philadelphia Flyers. Since their inception in 1997 until now, the Preds franchise has grown over the last 18 years to become the NHL’s most successful expansion team in recent memory.
Of the NHL clubs that got their on-ice start during the 1998-99 season or later (Nashville, Atlanta/Winnipeg, Columbus, Minnesota), the Preds have the top record (points percentage) with a 615-510-60 mark (.541).
"That Nashville has turned into a magnificent and enthusiastic hockey city has been nothing short of phenomenal,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. “It’s a testament to the players, to management, and in particular the ownership group, which is being led by Tom Cigarran. The team is doing all the things that we think are important for a team to be putting down roots in a community and to be an important part of a community.”
In honor of the milestone, take in our special Predators “13-themed” list:
1. The Nashville Predators inaugural contest was held on a warm night in Music City on Oct. 10, 1998. In front of a crowd of 17,285 and led by former Head Coach Barry Trotz, the Preds fell to the Florida Panthers by a 1-0 score. More than 17 years later, the Predators will play their 1,300th game in franchise history on Nov. 24, 2015, becoming the 27th franchise in NHL history to achieve the 1,300 games played mark.
2. Fans have been flocking to Bridgestone Arena to see their Preds, and the club sold out their 13th consecutive regular-season home game on Opening Night 2015 against the Carolina Hurricanes. Nashville sold out 30 games last season, including a record-breaking 17,401 fans on Dec. 30, 2014, against St. Louis, the single-game hockey attendance record for the Arena.
3. Just three players have worn No. 13 for the Preds over the years, most recently Olli Jokinen in 2014-15. Nick Spaling (2009-14) and Jere Karalahti (2001-02) have also donned the number with Nashville.
4. Oct. 13, 1998 brought about two franchise milestones in the second regular-season game in Predators history - the team’s first goal and the franchise’s first win. Andrew Brunette was credited with Nashville’s first tally at 5:12 of the first period in what was eventually a 3-2 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes.
5. Predators Head Coach Peter Laviolette’s first season with the club, in 2014-15, was his 13th season behind an NHL bench. Laviolette started out with the New York Islanders in 2001 before joining the Carolina Hurricanes in 2003. Laviolette guided the Hurricanes to a Stanley Cup Championship in 2006, and also led the Philadelphia Flyers to the 2010 Stanley Cup Final. The Franklin, Mass., native coached the Flyers from 2009-14 before joining the Preds. Laviolette’s Predators posted a 47-25-10 record in 2014-15.
6. Predators Assistant Coach and Hall of Fame defenseman Phil Housley scored at least 15 goals during 13 of his 21 NHL seasons from 1982-2003. Housley is the highest scoring American-born defenseman in NHL history, finishing with 1,232 points in his career. The recent Hockey Hall of Fame inductee will be honored before the Predators Nov. 28 game against the Buffalo Sabres, Housley’s first NHL team.
7. The 13-game start to the 2015-16 season was again one for the record books, ranking among the best in franchise history. A 8-3-2 record and 18 points through the baker’s dozen of games tied the second-best start in franchise history (9-3-1, 19 pts in 2006-07 is first).
8. The Predators have had 13 representatives selected to play in the NHL All-Star Game since 1999. Defensemen Kimmo Timonen, Shea Weber and Ryan Suter, forwards Sergei Krivokrasov, Jason Arnott and Filip Forsberg, as well as goaltenders Tomas Vokoun and Pekka Rinne have all been named to various All-Star teams over the years. The Predators will host NHL All-Star Weekend this season, on Jan. 30-31, 2016.
9. Scott Walker, who skated for the Preds from 1998-2006, amassed 13 shorthanded points during that span (8g-5a), good for third in franchise history, behind David Legwand and Greg Johnson.
10. Jason Arnott (2007-08) and Steve Sullivan (2005-06) sit tied for third in club history with 13 power-play goals scored in a single season. Andy Delmore tallied 14 goals with the man advantage in 2002-03; Paul Kariya did it in 2005-06.
11. Joel Ward (7g-6a) tallied 13 points for the Predators during the 2011 postseason, a team record for points in a Stanley Cup Playoff run. The Preds defeated the Anaheim Ducks 4-2 in Game Six of the 2011 Western Conference Quarterfinals to win the series 4-2, Nashville’s first series win in team history.
12. Former Predators Associate Coach, and current Preds radio broadcaster Brent Peterson spent his first 13 seasons with the franchise as a member of the team’s coaching staff. Peterson has been with the franchise since Day One, along with General Manager David Poile and Head Equipment Manager Pete Rogers.
13. The Predators first playoff shutout came on April 13, 2004, via a 3-0 final over the Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference Quarterfinals. Former Nashville goaltender Tomas Vokoun made 41 stops and Steve Sullivan tallied the eventual game winner in the first period. Since that second-ever postseason victory, the Predators have gone on to register 21 playoff wins, including the franchise’s second playoff series victory in 2012 over the Red Wings.