At this time 20 years ago, the Nashville Predators had an identity. Well, at least partially.
On Sept. 25, 1997, the first logo in franchise history was unveiled to the public in the form of the familiar saber-toothed tiger that still represents the team today, with a few tweaks.
The team's first owner, Craig Leipold, and the organization's first president, Jack Diller, revealed the logo at what is now known as UBS Tower in downtown Nashville - appropriately on the site where, in August of 1971, a saber-toothed tiger skeleton was discovered.
From the Team History section of NashvillePredators.com:
The Predators unveiled their logo, a saber-toothed tiger, in Nashville's downtown First American Center on September 25, 1997, 26 years after a fang and foreleg bone of a saber-toothed tiger were found in a cave just below the building's address.
In May of 1971, excavation began at the downtown Nashville site of what today is the 28-story UBS Tower (formerly First American Center). Construction workers drilled through 20 feet of solid rock before coming to a soft muddy area. Further digging revealed a cave containing the nine-inch fang and a foreleg bone of a saber-toothed tiger, extinct for potentially 10,000 years.
Radiocarbon tests on the specimen revealed that it could have possibly been one of the last of its breed to exist. Scientists believe that sometime during the last glacial period (15,000-80,000 years ago) part of the cave was the den of the saber-toothed tiger. The discovery, made in August 1971, marks only the fifth of its kind in North America. The cave, located beneath the building, is preserved under concrete for historic and educational purposes.
The saber-toothed tiger logo was co-designed by JDK Design of Burlington, Vermont and Dye, Van Mol & Lawrence of Nashville.
So thus, the Pred head was born, with the name Predators coming just under two months later (more on that in November).
Two days after the logo was revealed, the organization hosted what was essentially its first public open house, known as the Ice Breaker Bash, at Bridgestone Arena. The event kicked off season-ticket sales and attracted more than 12,000 hockey fans for three hours of hockey demonstrations, displays and interactive games, with appearances from General Manager David Poile, plus the team's first coaches in Barry Trotz and Paul Gardner.
From there, Nashville's NHL franchise was well underway to becoming a reality.
As the season continues and the Predators celebrate their 20th season, we'll take a look back at the moments that helped to define the franchise and speak with those who made it happen.