You know them. They're all around us.
They're your friends and neighbors, the person you sit next to in Section 303, the smiling faces who greet you when you enter Bridgestone Arena and the others who have come to feel like family. They keep you healthy, keep you secure and keep you fed without ever thinking twice.
And now, in these unprecedented times, they need our thanks, our praise, our gratitude and our assistance more than ever before.
That's the way it has always been in Nashville. Being there for the community has always been a priority for the Predators, and they're not about to stop now.
At a time of the year when the mantra "Stand With Us" is commonplace around these parts as the professional hockey club battles for the sport's ultimate prize, those priorities have shifted. Instead, the Preds are supporting community heroes in a myriad of different ways, and "Eat With Us" has become one of a collection of rallying cries when it comes to making sure those heroes - and the fanbase - are taken care of during this global pandemic.
"The Preds mantra is simple, just do what is right for our fans, sponsors and community," Predators CRO Chris Junghans said. "During these trying times, our 'Eat With Us' campaign serves as the umbrella between our food partners and individuals in our community in need of support and encouragement; this initiative is powered by the Nashville Predators' large megaphone and our passionate fan base. This ongoing program will continue to evolve as we strive to impact the community in new and significant ways every day."
From the moment the NHL season was paused on March 12, as the coronavirus began to spread throughout North America, the Predators implemented plans to use their resources for good in the community, just like they always have.
The Predators "Eat With Us" campaign has flourished… taking on so many different initiatives and involving staff, players, coaches , management and ownership of the organization.
Players Passion for the Community
It has long been the case that our players have a very special connection to this community, and it is no surprise that many of them have stepped up personally to assist the community during this difficult time. Predators Captain Roman Josi has stepped up in a big way by donating $20,000 to Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee, funds that will go in part to help feed hungry children who are no longer receiving lunch at school with classes cancelled. Josi and his wife, Ellie, have also donated an additional $20,000 to Home Street Home Ministries, a local organization that works with the homeless by meeting their needs during the pandemic.
Josi, as well as Preds forwards Matt Duchene and Ryan Johansen, plus goaltender Pekka Rinne, have teamed up with Dunkin' to provide free coffee for medical professionals working on the front line to flatten the COVID-19 curve. On 10 different occasions over the next month, the first 100 local healthcare professionals to show their medical ID badges at Dunkin' locations on 21st Avenue, or Elliston Place, will receive a free cup of coffee courtesy of the Preds and these players.
Feeding the Front Lines
While most of us are following Governor Lee and Mayor Cooper's "safer at home" guidance, there are many individuals in our community who are not able to shelter at home. Finding ways to help those who work in the essential services sector became a priority for the Predators. Employees of the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department are among the essential workers on the front lines, and the Predators are thanking officers by delivering meals throughout Davidson County. The Preds have teamed up with eight of their food and beverage partners to provide meals at every police precinct across the county on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the month of April. Predators Head Coach John Hynes and his wife Sarah, General Manager David Poile and his wife Elizabeth, CEO Sean Henry and his wife Tracey, Broadcaster Terry Crisp and his wife, Shelia, and the Nashville Predators Foundation empowered by SmileDirectClub have come together to purchase meals from Preds restaurant partners for active duty officers officers.
The Predators teamed up with Corner Pub on Tuesday for delivery to the Central Police Precinct, and over the coming weeks, partners Hardee's, Chick-fil-A, Buffalo Wild Wings, Amerigo, PDK, Puckett's and Texas Roadhouse will all participate in the initiative. Not only does this serve the community by feeding those on the front line, but it also allows Predators staff members the opportunity to give back while supporting partners in the hard hit restaurant business during the process.
During a global pandemic, it is difficult to identify a more essential service than the ones performed by medical and service professionals who are working in hospitals. Those medical and service professionals who call Vanderbilt home will enjoy deliveries from Preds partner Chick-fil-A. On April 10, the 365 Fund (created by Pekka Rinne and former Predators Captain Shea Weber) will provide a total of 600 meals throughout the day to Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt.
The work being done by grocery stores during these times is also of vast importance, and with the help of their partner Kroger, the Predators will be delivering food to select Season-Ticket Citizens. Not only are the Preds staying in touch with Season-Ticket Citizens, but Predators staff will be making the deliveries in the community after purchasing items via online ordering and pickup options from local Kroger stores - highlighting a great way to practice social distancing while purchasing essential items.
"Eat With Us" in Predators Replayed Games
Although live hockey isn't an option right now, the Predators are still finding ways for their fans to get their fix of the on-ice product too. With Preds Replays of the season's top games airing on Fox Sports Tennessee and virtual streams of games via the NHL20 video game, fans craving hockey have different options to choose from. However, reliving a big moment wouldn't feel right without raising a Bud Light to celebrate. On April 2, as the Preds re-aired a 5-2 win from Chicago that featured goaltender Pekka Rinne scoring his first-career goal. Anheuser Busch joined forces with the team to present the game and help fans relive one of the top moments in franchise history. Bud Light has also redirected their sports marketing resources to focus on COVID-19 relief and support in recent weeks. By celebrating great moments in sports, sponsoring the Goalie Goal Game was an ideal tie-in for all parties involved.
In addition to producing an instant classic, the now famous Goalie Goal Game also saw the Preds score at least four goals, which always means it's time for a free Frosty from Wendy's. And even though the action isn't live, that's no reason to deprive fans of their favorite frozen dairy treat. As the Predators re-air games on FS-TN, the Wendy's Score with Four promotion is still in full effect, giving fans the opportunity to support a proud partner and stay safe with social distancing from the drive thru.
The next re-aired game on April 5 was another great night for the Preds! Rinne's goaltending partner Juuse Saros pitched a shutout against the Winnipeg Jets on this occasion. Of course, that meant fans could visit Twice Daily locations the next day for a free donut thanks to the shutout in yet another way that fans can "Eat With Us" even during the pause.
During that same game on April 5, because it wasn't possible to do so in person, the Predators hosted a Virtual Fan Appreciation Night, complete with giving away 23 player jerseys following the contest. Each jersey was presented by a Preds sponsor - many of them from the food and beverage sector - and Dunkin' and Chick-fil-A also gave away prizes to a number of fans during the game. Additionally, each participant, who missed out on one of the top prizes, received a 20 percent off coupon to NashvilleLockerRoom.com.
Other Related Initiatives
In celebration of National Beer Day on April 7, the Predators joined with a number of beverage partners to create a Beer Land game for fans to download and play at home. Anheuser Busch, Jackalope Brewing, Truly and Yazoo were among the beverages who had their name and logo displayed prominently on the game board.
Predators President & CEO Sean Henry has also played a part by gifting a $25 Puckett's gift card to 255 full-time Preds employees, a perfect way for staff to enjoy a meal, while supporting a partner at the same time. The Eat With Us campaign also promotes all Predators restaurant partners with curbside and delivery offerings to give fans safe options when choosing a much-needed and well-deserved meal from a local eatery.
In addition to everything else, in recent days, with the help of the Predators, 5,000 pounds of food from Bridgestone Arena was donated to the Nashville Rescue Mission and Room In The Inn, while 12,000 gloves were donated to medical personnel in Nashville to the heroes who need them most.
There isn't a single person in this community who wouldn't benefit from a pick-me-up right about now. In many cases, a cup of coffee, a chicken sandwich or a simple meal will do the trick - anything to show that others are there to support friends, neighbors and colleagues.
A small gesture goes a long way in this town. It's just who we are as Nashvillians. And whether it's a game-winning goal or a free lunch along the way, the Predators have always made it happen - especially for the heroes. It's what Smashville is all about.
During the 2019-20 NHL season pause, the Predators, Bridgestone Arena and our partners want you to stay healthy and safe. Many local restaurants have made adjustments to focus on drive-thru or curbside pickup and are offering special offers, which we've compiled just for you. Click here for more information.