Photo: John Russell
Tom Fitzgerald, the first captain in Predators history, speaks to the media Thursday about his return to drop the ceremonial first puck on opening night.
The Nashville Predators announced Friday that 17-year National Hockey League veteran Tom Fitzgerald, who recently announced his retirement as an NHL player, will drop the ceremonial first puck at the Predators' 2006-07 regular-season home opener on Thursday, October 5 vs. the Chicago Blackhawks. Among other highlights of opening night: a selection of fans (drawn at random) will be invited to the ice post-game to win the Predators' game-worn jerseys, right off the players' backs.
Fitzgerald, 38, was named the first captain in Nashville Predators franchise history when he signed to play for the expansion Predators on July 6, 1998. Over the next four seasons (1998-2002), the Billerica, Mass. native was the face of the franchise, wearing the captain's "C" in a total of 307 games and compiling 42 goals and 46 assists (42g-46a-88pts). He will work this season as a studio analyst for selected Boston Bruins games on New England Sports Network (NESN).
"Tom Fitzgerald was the ideal captain to lead a new team and give it direction, vision and identity," said Predators General Manager David Poile. "As a young organization, we are looking to establish traditions of winning and of recognizing the efforts of those - like Tom - who helped to build the franchise with character, integrity and leadership."
During his 17-year NHL career, Fitzgerald suited up for seven teams. He was drafted by the New York Islanders as their first pick, 17th overall, in the 1986 Entry Draft and turned pro in 1988-89. He played his first full NHL season in 1992-93 with the Islanders and went on to play with the Florida Panthers, Colorado Avalanche, Predators, Blackhawks, Toronto Maple Leafs and his hometown Boston Bruins.
He retired with 139 goals and 190 assists for 329 points and 776 penalty minutes in 1,097 career NHL regular-season games. He added seven goals and 12 assists (7g-12a-19pts) and 90 penalty minutes in 78 career NHL playoff contests.
ADDITIONAL OPENING NIGHT HIGHLIGHTS
- All fans will receive a long-sleeved Predators t-shirt, courtesy of First Tennessee and FSN South.
- The Gaylord Entertainment Center will be abuzz with festivities on the plaza from 5:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m., with inflatable games, the interactive CMT Cross Country Experience and appearances by GNASH and the Nashville Predators Dancers. There will also be live music from The Lost Trailers!
- Following the game, a selection of fans drawn at random will be invited to the ice to win the Predators game-worn jerseys, right off the players' backs. To register for the shirts-off-their-backs promotion, fans will need to fill out and turn in the entry form located inside their Predators Press game program.
- One lucky fan will also win a trip to Chicago to watch the Predators take on the Blackhawks on January 5 at the United Center - airfare, hotel and game tickets included.
Individual tickets for Thursday night's game are still available (order online). Tickets for the entire Predators' 2006-07 regular-season home schedule may be purchased online, at the GEC box office, all Ticketmaster outlets or by calling (615) 770-PUCK. Predators season-ticket packages are still available for as low as $156; visit the Ticket section of nashvillepredators.com or call (615) 770-PUCK for more details.