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Nashville Predators: 2015 Year in Review

by Greg Ramirez / Nashville Predators

The year 2015 was certainly one to remember for the Nashville Predators. Both on and off the ice, the team and Bridgestone Arena continued to strive toward its ultimate goal of being the No. 1 arena in North America anchored by a Stanley Cup-winning franchise. As the year winds down, here are the stories and moments that defined the calendar year:

January




Jan. 4 - Three Nashville Predators prospects take part in 2015 World Junior Championship in Canada:

Goaltender Juuse Saros (Finland), Nashville's fourth choice (99th overall, fourth round) in 2013, defenseman Joonas Lyytinen (Finland), sixth choice (132 overall, fifth round) and forward Kevin Fiala (Switzerland), first choice (11th overall, first round) each took part in the annual hockey showcase of the world's best players, 21-and-under. Finland finished seventh in the tournament, while Switzerland finished in ninth.

Jan. 8 - Pete Weber named Tennessee Sportscaster of the Year by NSSA:

Nashville Predators play-by-play broadcaster, Pete Weber, was honored by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association (NSSA) as the Tennessee "Sportscaster of the Year." It was the third time he has come away with the award. With a membership of nearly 800 sportscasters and sportswriters, the NSSA is “a non-profit organization dedicated to honoring, preserving and celebrating the legacy of sportscasters and sportswriters in the United States.” The NSSA’s work includes developing educational, networking, mentoring and scholarship opportunities for students interested in sports media.

Jan. 10 - Eric Church shatters Bridgestone Arena event attendance record:

Multi-GRAMMY nominee Eric Church set the Bridgestone Arena concert attendance record, with 18,411 fans packing the venue. The previous record had been set in 2006 by The Blue Collar Comedy Tour.

Jan. 24 - Shea Weber wins Hardest Shot Competition with a 108.5 mph blast:

Nashville Predators Captain Shea Weber won the Hardest Shot Competition at the 2015 NHL All-Star Skills Competition™ with a blistering 108.5 mph shot. The Preds' D-man beat Dustin Byfuglien, Alex Ovechkin, Steven Stamkos and four others for the award, easily besting Ovechkin's 101.4 mph drive, the second-hardest shot, to capture the award. Weber's 108.5 mph shot was just 0.3 away from tying Zdeno Chara's 108.8 mph shot, the event's record, which was set in 2012.

Jan. 25 - Weber, Forsberg and Nashville’s coaching staff participate at 2015 NHL® All-Star Game; Rinne also named:

Three Nashville Predators, the most in team history, were named to the 2015 NHL® All-Star Game in Columbus, while Nashville’s coaching staff manned the bench of Team Toews after leading the Predators to the League’s best record at the season’s midpoint. Shea Weber and Filip Forsberg took part in the festivities, while goaltender Pekka Rinne was selected to play in the game, but was unable to attend due to injury. Forsberg notched two goals in the contest, becoming the first member of the Predators to ever tally a goal at the NHL’s midseason showcase.

February



Feb. 7 - Mike Ribeiro reaches 700-point club:

Nashville Predators forward Mike Ribeiro notched his 700th career NHL point against the New York Rangers, scoring a goal in the game's third period to reach the milestone. The center became the third-ever player to skate for Nashville with 700 or more career points, joining Paul Kariya (989 pts) and Peter Forsberg (885 pts) in the feat.

Feb. 23 - Bridgestone Arena named Arena of the Year by Pollstar Magazine:

Bridgestone Arena was named 2014 Arena of the Year by Pollstar Magazine during the Pollstar Live! Concert Industry Awards Ceremony at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. It was the first time that Bridgestone Arena took home top venue honors after being nominated 11 times, including receiving nominations in each of the past eight years.

March




March 11-15 - Bridgestone Arena hosts SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament:

The 2015 Southeastern Conference (SEC) Men’s Basketball Tournament was held at Bridgestone Arena in a showcase of college basketball’s elite teams. The championship game featured No. 1 Kentucky against No. 2 Arkansas in front of a capacity crowd of 20,315 fans.

March 13 - Jeff Cogen Named CEO of the Year by Nashville Post:

Nashville Predators and Bridgestone Arena Chief Executive Officer Jeff Cogen (who retired from the position on Dec. 1) was recognized by the Nashville Post as the 2015 CEO of the Year in their Leaders (formerly InCharge) issue. The Post, which publishes special issues like Leaders quarterly, uses criteria such as a business’ bottom line, brand awareness and influence in the community in selecting the recipient of the CEO of the Year award.

March 18 - Bridgestone Arena debuts new organ:

Fresh off of being named "Arena of the Year" by industry publication Pollstar Magazine, Bridgestone Arena debuted a new instrument, a Roland AT-900 Platinum Edition Organ, to replace the electric piano that was previously in use. The new organ, which is played by "Krazy" Kyle Hankins during each Nashville Predators home game, features an acclaimed virtual tone wheel with sounds built in, authentic pipe organ sounds, an enhanced arranger engine and a lineup of Roland’s SuperNATURAL sounds, keeping the 17,000-plus Nashville faithful entertained during each game.

March 28 - Preds clinch playoff berth with win over Capitals:

Armed with a 4-3 win over the Washington Capitals, the club's 47th win of the season, the Nashville Predators became the first Western Conference team to punch their ticket to the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The team was one of the top teams in the NHL for much of the season and finished with a 47-25-10 record to earn the third seed in the Western Conference and a first-round date with the Chicago Blackhawks.

April




April 11 - Equipment Manager Pete Rogers reaches 2,000-game milestone:

Equipment guru, Pete Rogers, a member of the Nashville Predators from Day One, worked his 2,000th-career professional hockey game during the team's final regular-season game against Dallas. Rogers has had a long career, representing the United States at the 2006 and 2014 Winter Olympics, serving as the Equipment Manager for the U.S. Men’s National Team on both occasions. Add that to World Championships and NHL All-Star Game appearances, it's easy to see why the SUNY Brockport grad has been a Nashville mainstay for so long.

April 15-25 - Nashville Predators take the Chicago Blackhawks to brink in six-game series:

In their first playoff berth in three seasons, the Nashville Predators pushed the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks to the brink, losing the series in six games. Three of the contests were one-goal affairs, including two games that went to multiple overtimes. Game Four, a dramatic 3-2 triple-overtime loss, was the longest in franchise history at 101 minutes. The series capped off a highly-successful 2014-15 campaign and one to build off of for 2015-16 and beyond.

April 24 - Pekka Rinne named a Vezina Trophy Finalist:

Goaltender Pekka Rinne was recognized as a finalist for the Vezina Trophy, which is voted on by NHL general managers and is presented annually to the goaltender judged to be the best at his position. After missing significant time due to a hip infection in 2013-14, Rinne returned to form in the 2014-15 campaign, finishing the season with 41 wins (tied for second in the NHL) and among the League leaders in goals-against average (2.18) and save percentage (.923). A finalist for the third time in the last five seasons, Rinne joined Montreal's Carey Price (the eventual winner) and Minnesota's Devan Dubnyk as the final three nominated for the award.

May




May 5 - Predators Foundation distributes a record $415,020.47 in grants to area charities:

The Nashville Predators Foundation distributed 88 grants, totaling $415,020.47, to Nashville and Middle Tennessee-based community service and charitable organizations. The total was the largest ever distributed by the Foundation. In total, the Nashville Predators Foundation donated nearly $1 million in cash to Nashville and Middle Tennessee community service and charitable organizations during the 2014-15 season.

May 6 - Peter Laviolette named Jack Adams Award Nominee:

Nashville Predators Head Coach Peter Laviolette was named a finalist for the Jack Adams Award, which is presented annually by the National Hockey League Broadcasters' Association to the NHL coach judged to have contributed the most to his team's success. Laviolette guided his team to a 47-25-10 record during his first season in Nashville, a 16-point improvement in the standings over the previous season. Additionally, the club finished with more wins, more goals and more shots, helping Laviolette to be considered for the prestigious award. Laviolette joined Bob Hartley and Alain Vigneault as a finalist for the Jack Adams Award.

May 18 - Preds shine at World Championship:

The 2015 World Championship in Prague, Czech Republic, featured eight members of the Nashville Predators. Seth Jones (USA), Jimmy Vesey (USA), Pekka Rinne (Finland), Juuse Saros (Finland), Mattias Ekholm (Sweden), Filip Forsberg (Sweden), Roman Josi (Switzerland) and Kevin Fiala (Switzerland) all competed at the annual tournament. The Preds had several standout performances: Forsberg, Jones and Josi were all named one of their nation's’ Top Three players by the coaches. Rinne was voted as the top goaltender in the Worlds by the tournament directorate.

May 30 - 2016 NHL® All-Star Weekend logo revealed:

Less than a year after being named as the host city for the 2016 NHL® All-Star Game, the League, in conjunction with the Nashville Predators, unveiled the logo that will be used during the All-Star celebrations, set to take place from Jan. 30-31 at Bridgestone Arena. The unveiling was made at the Music City Center in Nashville during the 2015 Music City Sports Festival.

June




June 24 - Laviolette, Rinne take part in NHL Awards:

Goaltender Pekka Rinne and Head Coach Peter Laviolette were each finalists for accolades during the NHL Awards ceremony in Las Vegas. Rinne finished second in Vezina Trophy voting to Montreal's Carey Price, while Laviolette finished third in voting for the Jack Adams Award.

June 27 - Nashville Predators select seven at 2015 NHL Draft in Florida:

The Nashville Predators made seven selections at the 2015 NHL Draft at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida, taking four forwards, two goalies and one defenseman during the two-day event.

Nashville selected two-way center Yakov Trenin with its first pick (55th overall) in the 2015 Draft. The Chelyabinsk, Russia, native spent the 2014-15 season playing for Gatineau in the Quebec Major Junior League where he played in 58 regular-season games and placed third among QMJHL rookies in assists (49) and fifth in points (67); his 49 assists led all Olympiques players and his 67 points were good for second on the team. During the 2015 QMJHL Playoffs, Trenin averaged a point per game and ranked second in rookie scoring (3g-8a-11pts) while helping Gatineau to a first-round victory over Blainville-Boisbriand.

The remaining six selections included: forward Thomas Novak (85th overall), center Anthony Richard (100th overall), defenseman Alexandre Carrier (115th overall), goaltender Karel Vejmelka (145th overall), forward Tyler Moy (175th overall) and goaltender Evan Smith (205th overall).

Nashville Predators Chief Amateur Scout Jeff Kealty described the seven selections made by the team at the 2015 NHL Draft as "nearly perfect."

July




July - Nashville Predators make free agency moves:

The Nashville Predators made several moves to solidify the 2015-16 version of the club, re-signing center Mike Ribeiro to a two-year contract, inking forward Cody Hodgson to a one-year deal and defenseman Barret Jackman to a two-year contract. Nashville also acquired Max Reinhart from Calgary on the first day of free agency, and on July 20, the team re-signed forward Craig Smith to a five-year deal. On July 27, the team also signed forward Colin Wilson to a four-year contract.

August




Aug. 19 - Bridgestone Arena honored with state proclamation:

Tennessee State Representative Bill Beck presented the Nashville Predators and Bridgestone Arena with a framed proclamation honoring the Arena and its management - led by former CEO Jeff Cogen and current CEO Sean Henry - for their recognition in the sports and entertainment business. The recognition was a nice feather in the cap, as the Arena was named Pollstar's "Arena of the Year" earlier in year.

September




Sept. 7 - Bridgestone Arena undergoes $11 million transformation:

Bridgestone Arena became the sixth NHL venue to install a LED lighting system, replacing the original metal-halide system that was in place for the first 18 years of the building. The LED lights were the centerpiece of the $11.2 million in improvements made to Bridgestone Arena over the summer that included new concession stands and food items, metal detectors at every entrance and 8,000 new premium seats in the lower-level concourse. In total, Bridgestone Arena has undergone a $50 million facelift over the last five years to make it one of the top sports and entertainment venues in the United States.

Sept. 9 - Shea Weber and Pekka Rinne present check to Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt:

Nashville Predators Captain Shea Weber and goaltender Pekka Rinne presented Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt with a check from the 365 Pediatric Cancer Fund, totaling $395,424.74 in cash and in-kind donations, which surpassed the $318,242.90 donation from 2014. It was the largest single donation the Preds have ever given to Children’s Hospital, and the Foundation has donated over $1 million over the last six years.

Sept. 12 - Ford Ice Center celebrates one-year anniversary:

Ford Ice Center celebrated its one-year anniversary, marking an opening year full of success. The facility, which is home to the Scott Hamilton Skating Academy, Preds youth and adult hockey initiatives and various local teams, is LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environment Design) certified and includes a yoga studio, party rooms, locker rooms and more in addition to two NHL-size sheets of ice.

In its first year of operation, Ford Ice Center hosted over 60,000 public skaters, had 483 youth hockey participants and 1,007 Learn to Skate participants. Additionally, the rink also hosted 1,435 adults in the adult hockey leagues. Ford Ice Center, a public-private partnership, was chosen by RINK Magazine, a nationwide hockey and ice skating rink trade publication, as their “Featured Rink,” for November/December 2014 and credited both Ford Ice Center and the Nashville Predators for continuing to help the growth and development of hockey and figure skating in the southeast.

Sept. 22 - 82 televised Games, talent changes highlight alterations to TV broadcast:

The Nashville Predators entered the 2015-16 season with a franchise first: for the first time in team history, the team was able to announce that all 82 regular-season games would be televised. The team also added Willy Daunic as the TV play-by-play announcer (moving Pete Weber to radio play-by-play) and expanded Lyndsay Rowley's role as a rinkside reporter for all 78 games on FOX Sports Tennessee.

October




Oct. 6 - All-Star Weekend's Winter Park logo unveiled:

In conjunction with the Nashville Local Organizing Committee and the Nashville Sports Council, members of the Nashville Predators took part in unveiling the logo and plans for the Bridgestone Winter Park, located at Walk of Fame Park adjacent to Bridgestone Arena.

Oct. 12 - Seth Jones named among Nashville's "Most Beautiful":

Nashville Predators defenseman Seth Jones was named one of Nashville's 25 "Most Beautiful People" by Nashville Lifestyles Magazine. The prestigious list was made up of athletes, musicians, lawyers, philanthropists, actors and business magnates.

Oct. 13 - Bridgestone Arena named IEBA Venue of the Year:

With the prestigious Pollstar Magazine “Arena of the Year” accolade in Bridgestone Arena’s back pocket, the home of the Nashville Predators was honored again, this time as the Venue of the Year by the International Entertainment Buyers Association (IEBA) during the annual Honors and Awards Ceremony. Bridgestone Arena won the award amid heavy competition that included Philips Arena in Atlanta, The Forum in Los Angeles and Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix as the nominees.

November




Nov. 4 - Bridgestone Arena hosts Country Music Awards:

Bridgestone Arena once again served as the host venue for the Country Music Awards which was the 49th iteration of the event. The night featured several memories, including the stand-out performance by Justin Timberlake and 2015 Performer of the Year, Chris Stapleton. Country music stars Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood served as co-hosts for the nationally televised event on ABC.

Nov. 9 - Phil Housley inducted into Hockey Hall of Fame:

Nashville Predators Assistant Coach Phil Housley was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, joining an elite class that included Nicklas Lidstrom, Chris Pronger and Sergei Fedorov. The prestigious honor came after a long and storied career that produced 1,232 points in 1,495 regular-season games, the fourth-highest total by a defenseman in League history. The St. Paul, Minnesota, native is also second in scoring by an American-born NHL player, trailing only Mike Modano.

Nov. 13 - Nashville Predators awarded League funds to help grow hockey:

The NHL and NHLPA awarded the Nashville Predators more than $4 million through the Industry Growth Fund to help grow the game of hockey in Nashville. In total, $4,005,000 was awarded and designated into six programs for three separate areas: ball and street hockey ($135,000/year), rink development ($1 million/year) and diversity ($200,000/year) for the next three years.

December




Dec. 1 - Sean Henry officially assumes Chief Executive Officer role:

Sean Henry officially became the team's chief executive officer, replacing Jeff Cogen through a succession plan that was established when the two were hired. Among his notable accomplishments as the team's president and chief operating officer, a role he served since 2010, included helping to lead a slew of renovations and upgrades throughout Bridgestone Arena during the summer of 2015, featuring new seats in the lower bowl, concession stand and restroom transformations and the addition of LED lighting in the building, all on the heels of the opening of the Lexus Lounge, Predators Team Store and other amenities over the past few seasons.

Dec. 10 - Star-studded musical lineup revealed for All-Star Weekend in Nashville:

Dierks Bentley, the Eli Young Band, Big & Rich and Lonestar were just among a few of the acts who were announced as performers during All-Star Weekend, scheduled to take place from Jan. 30-31, ensuring that an unprecedented list of musical stars will grace the IntelliCentrics Outdoor Concert Series and also play inside the Music City Center at NHL® Fan Fair presented by Bridgestone.

Dec. 12 - Intellicentrics Ice Rink opens:

In association with the upcoming 2016 NHL® All-Star Weekend in January, the NHL and Nashville Local Organizing Committee officially opened the IntelliCentrics Outdoor Ice Rink prior to the Predators contest that evening against the Colorado Avalanche. The rink, part of Bridgestone Winter Park, is open through All-Star Weekend, which culminates on Jan. 31 with the 2016 NHL® All-Star Game at Bridgestone Arena.


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