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Duchene Says Nashville is Perfect Spot for Him, Family

Centerman Decides Music City is Where He Wants to Play Hockey, Raise Family

by Brooks Bratten @brooksbratten / Senior Communications & Content Coordinator

To borrow from the Tim McGraw tune that's well known around these parts, he liked it, he loved it and he wanted some more of it.

In fact, Matt Duchene signed up for seven years of it when he inked a $56 million contract with the Nashville Predators that will see him play his home games at Bridgestone Arena through the 2025-26 season.

So, what exactly is "it?"

Well, in the 20-plus year history of the Predators franchise, there has perhaps never been a player better suited to call Nashville home.

Duchene loves the twang of the tunes. He loves the Southern Hospitality. And when he and his wife paid a visit to Music City last week to meet with Preds General Manager David Poile and Head Coach Peter Laviolette, they realized they couldn't say no to the opportunity in front of them.

The music, the culture, the lifestyle - and of course, the hockey - it all made perfect sense.

"My family and I are really excited," Duchene said via conference call. "It's been a place we've wanted to be for a long time, and for us to see it come to fruition is really exciting. We love the city, the fans are unbelievable, and the most important part, which is the hockey part, it's a hell of a team to be joining. I can't wait to play with those guys and get out there and get started. At the end of the day, it's where we wanted to be for a long time, and we wanted to do whatever it took to make it happen."

Duchene knows the city well, not only from visits during the winter months with opposing teams, but also thanks to his own treks in during the offseason. The native of Haliburton, Ontario, says he and his wife usually make the trip once a year, not only heading up and down Broadway, but taking time to explore the city's unique neighborhoods and outlying suburbs.

In doing so, the Duchenes, who are the proud parents of a six-month-old son, couldn't help but picture what might be.

"We could always see ourselves living outside of the city down there," Duchene said. "That whole lifestyle is so us, and it's going to be fun to start to raise our little guy there, and hopefully his future siblings."

Video: Duchene shares why he chose to sign with the Preds

While Duchene admitted Nashville has always been high on his list, the last few days weren't easy for him. There were teams other than the Predators interested in his services, and there were attractive options that gave him plenty to think about.

"When you have seven or eight years in front of you on a contract where you are trying to figure out where you want to be, you have to take a lot of things into account," Duchene said. "You have to balance your thinking with your head and your heart. I have a young family to look out for, and you are trying to figure out what priorities are the most important.

"For me, the first two boxes to check off were hockey No. 1, and family No. 2. When I say family was No. 2, I mean that in terms of a living situation, but I only get to do this for so long, so the hockey takes a little bit of a forefront. Thankfully, those two things, as I am rating them, they are both a 10 out of 10. Those two boxes were our biggest priority to check off, and that's what Nashville was."

That sentiment from Duchene was exactly what Poile was hoping to hear when the process reached its conclusion. The only general manager in franchise history, Poile knows what Nashville has to offer a professional hockey player better than most, and for Duchene, the vision was crystal clear.

"Matt saw we have something special here between the franchise, the city and the community, and the good news for us is he wanted to be part of it," Poile said. "As we know, he's a big country music fan, he's very passionate about our city, and those things make a good fit an even better fit."

For everything Duchene had to consider, on the ice and off it, Nashville, Tennessee, had it all. And when the dust settled and it was time to put ink on paper, he knew there wasn't anywhere else he'd rather be.

"At the end of the day, Nashville just seemed like the perfect fit for us, and now I want to put that into action," Duchene said. "Hopefully, that all comes to fruition and we reach the ultimate goal in the next few years."

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