As this Western Canada trip began in Vancouver Wednesday night – it was clear that this had turned into an “Alumni Weekend.”
The first indication – at the hotel in Vancouver: Stu Grimson comes across Brent Gilchrist in the workout room. Gilchrist is working for an energy company in Vancouver.
Brent concluded his 17-year pro career with the Predators in 2002-03. Brent won a Stanley Cup with the 1997-98 Detroit Red Wings, when they became the last team to repeat as Cup Winners. He broke in with Montreal and also played in Edmonton and for the Stars in both Minnesota and Dallas.
Then, the team arrives at Rogers Arena for Thursday morning’s skate. Who should be standing inside the entrance to the arena but Drake Berehowsky, who played for Nashville in the city’s first three seasons in the NHL. The former defenseman, who was a first-round pick of his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs in 1990, also played with Pittsburgh, Vancouver and Phoenix.
Berehowsky then went into coaching, first as an assistant in the Ontario League with Barrie; then as an American Hockey League assistant with the Peoria Rivermen (2009-2012). His head coaching break came in the ECHL with Orlando last season, and now he is head coach of the Western Hockey League’s Lethbridge Hurricanes. Here is a link to that team's site: http://www.lethbridgehurricanes.com
Drake got his former coach, Barry Trotz to talk to his Hurricanes after the Predators’ morning skate.
Also Thursday morning, the British Columbia Hockey Hall of Fame was announcing its 2014 class of inductees in the Canucks’ media room at Rogers Arena. Among those on hand for the ceremonies was Cliff Ronning, the Predators’ leading scorer in the team’s early years (1998-2002). Cliff was a previous inductee of the BC Hall, and was pleased to see that one of this year’s honorees will be Shea Weber’s 2003-04 Memorial Cup Champion Kelowna Rockets in the team category. For that matter, the opposing goaltender in the Preds’ first NHL game, Kirk McLean (then with the Florida Panthers), was also announced as an honoree.
Cliff, who now is in the hockey stick business (www.basehockey.ca), was nice enough to spend some time with us on TV Thursday night during the second intermission. He was the first to play his 1000th NHL game in a Predators’ uniform.
Then yet another Predators alumnus was with the team as well, and on the bench, as Scott Nichol (with the team from 2005 – 2009) filled in for Lane Lambert, who stayed back in Nashville as his wife undergoes chemotherapy. Scott is now the Director of Player Development for the Predators.
All in all, the hockey world – particularly that corner filled with the Alumni of the Nashville Predators – grew closer together with the team on the road!