The Predators will celebrate 15 years of hockey during the 2013-14 season. Having toiled in the organization as a player in the formative years (2001-2003), an anniversary like that gives you cause to reflect. Having said that, the one thing about this game …. it’s not so much the game itself as it is the people you meet while playing it that sticks with you.
In the coming weeks, I intend to highlight a few players I played with while a Predator. They are chosen not so much for their abilities on the ice as they are for their personality off it. Not so much for their character but more for the fact that they were characters. See the difference?
Jere Karalahti. It’s not uncommon for a manager to discuss a potential transaction with a current player on his roster before he pulls the trigger. That was the case in 2002 when David Poile called me in to an operations meetingto get my opinion on Jere Karalahti – a Los Angeles King at the time. The “Chief” and I played and roomed together in L.A the year before I came to Nashville. So David wanted to get my take on the big Finn.
David and the rest of the operations staff were focused on two things primarily. What did I think of his game and what kind of person was he? The answer to the first was fairly straightforward. Big, pretty physical and solid defensively;
he could help us.
The answer to the second question required a little more detail. You see, Jere had a hearty appetite for the part of the game that happened after the game was over. He looked like the front man for a metal band and he lived up to one specific part of that persona. He liked to go out … a lot … until very early in the morning. I told the staff that if we brought him in that we’d need to keep him on a short leash.
Long story short; lower Broadway became the Chief’s playground. We got him at the trade deadline that year and I don’t believe he lasted the rest of the year. He played all of 15 games before defecting back to the motherland. His challenges away from the game are well documented. Apparently, pro hockey in Finland is a little less structured than the NHL; a better fit for the Chief at the end of the day.
See you around the rink.