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A Look Back At The Year That Was 2009

by Staff Writer / Nashville Predators
With the turning of the calendar, it seemed only natural to get a little nostalgic and look back at the hockey memories that made up the year that was 2009. From a comeback kid to a hard-hitting All-Star to a blow-out game against a division rival – without further ado – here are our top nine from ’09.

1)Steve Sullivan Returns
After missing 142 consecutive games, fan favorite Steve Sullivan returned to the NHL on January 10, 2009 when the Preds hosted the Chicago Blackhawks. The Preds won 4-1, in an emotional game as Sullivan played his first game in 687 days becoming just the third player in the post-World War II era to miss more than 600 days due to injury, then return to action (joining Jim Peplinski, Calgary and Mario Lemieux, Pittsburgh). In his second game, Jan. 13 at Toronto, Sully would notch an assist, the first point of his comeback. He would finish the season with 11 goals and 32 points in 41 games played, including 27 points in his last 25 games played. Six-hundred eighty-seven days passed between games for the 5-9, 173-pound right winger whose return made him For his efforts, Sullivan was honored with the NHL’s Masterton Trophy, presented “to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.”

2)Weber’s All-Star Weekend
Shea Weber parlayed a quick start to the 2008-09 season into his first career All-Star Game appearance on Sunday, Jan. 25 in Montreal, making him the first Nashville draftee selected to the game. In the Saturday night SuperSkills Competition, he registered a 103.4 mph blast in the Hardest Shot contest, good for second to Boston's Zdeno Chara and third all-time behind Chara (105.4 mph) and Iafrate (105.2 mph, 1993). The following day, the 6-4, 230-pounder led the Western Conference team in ice time (22:16), playing on defensive pair with future Hall of Famer and fellow 2010 Olympian Scott Niedermayer of the Anaheim Ducks. Weber was a +1 for the contest.

3) “The Detroit Game”
The Predators and Red Wings have become one of the Central Division’s best rivalries – with the teams meeting twice in the playoffs in the past five seasons and battling for top spot in the division in two other seasons. However, their meeting on the final day of February at Sommet Center was one of the signature games in franchise history. Nashville scored five goals in a 6:00 span of the first period to break open the game, including the first two goals 29-seconds apart. Nashville would go on to an 8-0 victory, the largest margin of victory in team history. Additionally, the five-goal first tied the second-highest scoring period in team history.

4)2009 Entry Draft
For an organization committed to building through the Draft, these days in late June are always one of the notable moments of the year. The Predators made 10 picks on June 26-27 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, highlighted by the selection of talented offensive defenseman Ryan Ellis with the 11th overall pick on Friday night. The focus would turn to talent up front on Day Two of the draft, as General Manager David Poile and his staff chose seven forwards with the team’s final nine picks – this included four college-bound prospects in Zack Budish (second round, now at Minnesota), Craig Smith (fourth round, now at Wisconsin), Nick Oliver (fourth round, currently with Fargo of the USHL and headed to St. Cloud State in the fall of 2010) and Cam Reid (seventh round, currently with Westside of the BCHL and headed to St. Cloud State in the fall of 2010), a pair of teammates with the OHL’s Guelph Storm, Taylor Beck and Michael Latta in the third round, and Gabriel Bourque, a Team Canada selection for the 2010 World Junior Championships plays for Moncton of the QMJHL. Also picked were blueliners Charles-Olivier Roussel (second round) and Mattias Ekholm (fourth round).

5)Rinne named 2009 Rookie of the Month for February

Rookie goaltender Pekka Rinne burst onto the NHL scene in 2008-09, finishing in the League’s Top 10 in goals against average (2.38), save percentage (.917) and shutouts (7). The campaign – which saw him finish fourth in voting for the Calder Trophy – was highlighted by a banner second month of 2009 which saw him go 9-2-1 with a 1.72 goals-against average and .944 save percentage in February, earning him Rookie of the Month honors.

6)Arnott scores in bunches in February
Jason Arnott’s 33-goal 2008-09 season – which broke the franchise record for goals in a campaign – was highlighted by a stellar month of February, which saw him score 10 goals in 15 games to also set a franchise record for tallies in a month. The Predators captain kicked off the month with a four-game goal streak from Feb. 3-8, and finished it with another four-game streak from Feb. 21-28 – highlighted by his eighth career hat trick on Feb. 28 the game against Detroit. Arnott wouldn’t stop there though – he totaled 33 points (18g-15) in his final 29 games (from Jan. 8-April 10, missed 14 games in that span due to injury), while scoring 18 goals in just 25 games after the All-Star break. He finished the season with six goals in the team’s last four games to clinch the goals mark.

7)Third Jersey
The entire process took almost a year, but the unveiling of the Nashville Predators new third jersey was well worth the wait. First debuted by country music star Taylor Swift during September’s Preds Fest, the alternate sweater holds a look that has its roots in an Original Six style, yet keeps a feeling that is distinctly Nashville – featuring a vintage-inspired lace-up front, a subtle black and blue checkerboard pattern lining the bottom of the jersey and a bolder and more simplified color scheme. The new sweaters found immediate success and became an instant classic – with jerseys flying off the shelf when they were officially released this past fall.

8)Seven Game Winning Streak Slides Preds Up The Charts
After a rough first 10 games, the Preds showed signs of righting the season. Still coming off a loss at San Jose on Nov. 10, Nashville was 7-8-1 and looking at a brutal stretch of six consecutive games against 2009 Playoff participants. But the Preds came from behind for a 3-1 win at St. Louis on Nov. 12 and followed that up with a perfect 5-0 homestand, including a shutout of Montreal, wins over Detroit and San Jose, and shootout wins over New Jersey and Columbus. A 4-3 overtime win at Colorado the night before Thanksgiving pushed the Preds to 14-8-1 and in the thick of the Central Division title chase. And the Preds have never been less than five games above .500 since.

9)Erat’s December to Remember
Martin Erat made sure Arnott’s goal-scoring mark for a single month didn’t stand for long. Selected 191st overall by the Predators in 1999, Erat played in 14 of the team’s 15 games during the month, posting points in 12 of them. His 10 goals were tied with two players for the NHL lead during the month, in addition to tying Arnott’s goal total from February 2009 for the most scored by a Predator in a single month in franchise history. The Trebic, Czech Republic capped the month by being named to his second straight Czech Olympic Team on Dec. 30

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