It's no secret Matt Duchene was fond of the city of Nashville long before he signed a seven-year contract with the Predators.
But just because a certain locale pulls at the heartstrings doesn't always mean it's meant to be. In this situation, Duchene needed to, as he stated, check a couple of boxes.
Coming to Nashville not only had to be the right fit for his family, but if he was going to commit to a franchise long term, he needed to like what he heard on the hockey side of things.
That's where a late-June meeting came in - at both Bridgestone Arena and around town - and Duchene's hopes were confirmed.
Indeed, he wanted to be a Nashville Predator, and the potential on the ice had plenty to do with it.
In speaking to the Nashville media via conference call on Monday afternoon, not long after the deal had been made official, Duchene revealed it was Predators Head Coach Peter Laviolette who helped make the elite centerman salivate at the thought of wearing Gold.
"When we started talking, what was supposed to be probably a 10-minute conversation turned into 40 to 45 minutes because we're just so into hockey talk," Duchene said of his chat with Laviolette. "I love to debate ideas and talk about things, and we could not have been more on the same page. He's a guy who wants to score more goals, and as an offensive guy, that makes you drool a little bit when you hear your coach say that. It was awesome. As a guy who wants to play a get up and go, a fast style, make plays, be creative, that kind of thing, that was a huge draw for me."
Video: Duchene shares why he chose to sign with the Preds
In fact, Predators General Manager David Poile stated there were two lengthy meetings between Duchene and Laviolette - once during the day and another at dinner later that evening. It seems the two couldn't get enough of the idea of coaching and playing for one another.
Duchene says Laviolette also spoke of the culture he's become legendary for instilling in his teams - a family-oriented mindset throughout the organization with an unwavering commitment to team and city.
"He is such a genuine person, and I know the family aspect of the team is something that he's been huge with," Duchene said of Laviolette. "I know guys really like playing for him. I'm really excited to get to work with him, and we talked after I committed [to sign the deal], and we had a great conversation again, so I'm really excited to work with him and hopefully bring some offensive to this team. I'm a creative player, and I love to make plays. That's something I was looking for wherever I went, because hockey was the most important thing."
From Poile's standpoint, there has been a desire to acquire Duchene for a number of years. This time, everything finally came together. As the GM went into his discussions, he did so the same way he would with any player, and Duchene was pleased with the outline.
"In every pitch that we have with any player that we're trying to sign, [I say], 'We'd like to keep the team together, and we'd like to be competitive every year,'" Poile explained. "In my being interviewed by Matt Duchene, he asked me questions, and what I try to say to him is, 'My goal every year is I get to training camp, and I can look all players in the eye and say we have a competitive team, we have a team that should definitely make the playoffs, and if we make the playoffs, then you and us all have a chance to compete for the Stanley Cup.' That all goes into the sales pitch of the negotiation."
It clearly worked, and now Poile has another offensive threat up front that will make his club that much better.
Video: GM Poile shares reasoning for Matt Duchene signing
Poile says he expects Duchene and Ryan Johansen to provide a one-two punch at center. It's a combination not many other teams in the League possess, and when combined with the other options at center like Kyle Turris, Nick Bonino and Colton Sissons, it gives the Predators incredible depth down the middle. It also provides internal competition for spots and ice time, something Poile believes can only be a good thing in the long run.
"I'm optimistic that with Johansen and Duchene and Kyle Turris at center ice, this should give us the best chance to be much better offensively than we were last year," Poile said. "Hopefully, it will make a difference in getting us into the playoffs, and hopefully will make a difference with having success in the playoffs."
Yes, the city had to be attractive, and the on-ice potential needed to make sense, too. But there was one more thing Duchene wanted to be sure of, and after everything finally came together to see him land in Nashville, he was certain this was the right spot.
"I was never going to go to a team I didn't believe had a chance to win, and I believe that about this team," Duchene said. "On paper, obviously it looks very good, and now we want to take that and transfer that onto the ice and make sure it applies. We're really looking forward to that."