On Sunday, defenseman Cody Franson learned he would be joining the NHL's No. 1 team, the Nashville Predators. The former Maple Leaf, along with Mike Santorelli, was traded to the Predators in exchange for Olli Jokinen, Brendan Leipsic and a 2015 1st-round pick.
Franson was a third-round draft pick of the Preds in 2005 and was traded to Toronto in 2011 before making his return to Music City today. The 27-year-old shared his thoughts on the deal and returning to a city he calls home.
How excited are you to join a team that’s not only No. 1 in the NHL, but is making such a clear push for a championship this season?
“It’s very exciting. Nashville is such a great city and it will be an unbelievable place to try and win a Cup. I can’t tell you how excited I am to go back there and be a part of it. I’m going to try and do everything I can to help the team win.”
Most players say it’s a shock when they’re traded, but given the circumstances, did you have a better warning than some?
“It’s been a weird process and obviously going through all the trade deadline rumors it’s tough to ignore. You try to prepare yourself for any possible situation. I’ve tried to do the same thing. I’ve been trying to continue to do what I’ve been doing in Toronto by working to help the team win. I love it here in Toronto, and that was my first focus, but at the same time being prepared for this call so I didn’t get blindsided.
You're returning to Nashville where your career began; that’s an easy storyline for the media, but does it matter to you?
“I’m extremely excited, Nashville has always felt like home to me. It’s where I started, and I loved it there. When I got traded from there, it was a day of mixed emotions. I had a made a lot good friends there and knew a lot of great people, so I was sad to leave. I’m very happy to be coming back, and I’m excited about us competing for [a championship].”
What do you know about Nashville Head Coach Peter Laviolette’s new system and the changes with the Predators this season?
“In Toronto, it’s tough to miss anything that happens around the League. I’ve watched a lot of things unfold over the years. I knew Martin [Erat] so I followed the Filip Forsberg trade. Forsberg is a great player and I’m excited to play with him. I’ve known [James] Neal for awhile now, I went to World Juniors camp with him and played with him at the World Junior Championships. You get to know people through your travels and at the World Championships. Playing for different teams and traveling you get to meet a lot of people and keep tabs with them.”
What are your thoughts on the Preds defensive corps and how familiar are you with team’s blueliners?
“When I got traded, that’s when [Roman] Josi was first coming into the League, so I knew him a bit before I got traded. I knew [Ryan] Ellis a little bit, he was in the same situation. I’ve actually gotten to know [Seth] Jones a little bit by him coming with [Shea] Weber when he comes down to visit in Kelowna, [British Columbia], in the summer. And I know [Victor] Bartley from being in Vancouver and doing a couple charity events with him. I’m pretty comfortable with just about all of those guys, there’s a new face or two, but there’s still a lot of guys there that I knew from before. I’m very excited to get back in there with them.”
You’ve gotten a taste of playing in front of Predators fans on both sides, is it safe to say you’re looking forward to skating in front of them again?
“Absolutely, I can’t wait. People would always ask me when I got to Toronto, ‘What was it like playing in Nashville? Was it quiet?’ and I would say that for years it’s super loud and the fans are great. They stand up and cheer during the TV timeouts and at intermissions just to try and get the boys going. They’re a blast to play in front of. When we went there this year, it’s only amplified then when I used to play there. They’re very fun fans to play in front of. I know the team feeds off the energy and I can’t wait to get back and play in front of them.”