J-P Dumont may no longer be skating for the Nashville Predators, but that doesn’t mean he’s moved on from hockey in Music City. A Preds forward from 2006-10, a period in which he amassed 267 points (93g-174a), Dumont has shifted his focus to a different kind of puck in Middle Tennessee.
Dumont is now the General Manager and Assistant Coach of the Nashville Junior Predators, a newly formed team that skates in the North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL) and plays its home contests out of A-Game Sportsplex in Franklin, Tenn. When the opportunity came along this past summer to acquire a team, Dumont, Jr. Predators President Tim McAllister and company jumped at the chance.
“Even when I was still playing, I was trying to be involved with youth hockey,” Dumont said. “That’s a really easy and fun way to get involved. After a few years when I was done [playing for the Predators], the opportunity came to get a junior team here, and it was the right time and the right moment to do it.”
Dumont says that the overriding goal was to afford the chance for local players to stay home in Tennessee while getting to play a higher level of hockey. The team is made up of players ages 16-20, with four players, Noah Keener of Clarksville, Jesse Hyde of Springfield, Jacob Elrod of Franklin and Nathaniel Chiarizzio of Nashville, calling the Volunteer State home.
“Having been involved with youth hockey, the peewees and mites and everything, I thought bringing a junior team [to Nashville] would be good as well so the boys can stay here longer, get better and improve,” Dumont said. “Our group was really pleased when we found out we were able to get a new franchise here.”
For those players that aren’t local to the mid-state, billet families are the norm, with Dumont hosting two players of his own. Having been in the same situation when he played junior hockey, Dumont is humbled to now be able to return the favor.
“They treated me as their own, like I was part of the family,” Dumont said of his junior billet experience. “I’m so grateful for that, so I’m trying to give back. It’s my turn now to pass the rope. I’m pretty happy with that.”
But Dumont isn’t just providing his players with guidance off the ice. The club is off to a 15-2-1 start in their inaugural campaign, good for first in the Central Division, much like their NHL companions. And with a wealth of experience from one Preds club, Dumont is now in the business of instilling that knowledge to the other group of Preds in Nashville.
“I try to give the passion of hockey,” Dumont said. “I learned it when I was growing up from my coaches and everybody involved with minor hockey, so I try to translate, to give that passion back. That’s definitely the best way for me to look at it.”
For more information on the Jr. Preds, visit their website.