A display of entertainment on the ice that was equally as impressive as the sections outside of Bridgestone Arena made for a weekend that is sure to set the standard for future All-Star celebrations.
The 2016 NHL All-Star Weekend in Nashville was star-studded, complete with a Skills Competition stuffed with creativity, to a newly redesigned All-Star Game format, a 3-on-3 tournament to decide the winner; not to mention some of country music’s biggest stars performing throughout the four-day celebration of hockey and music.
“It was very special,” Preds forward James Neal said. “The whole weekend, being here, the events surrounding this weekend, and all of the hard work everyone put into it, to be part of it and see how it turned out was awesome.”
Minnesota Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk, who had a brief stint with the Predators during the 2013-14 campaign, enjoyed Nashville both then and this weekend.
“It’s great, and it was when I was here too,” Dubnyk said. “One thing when I was here, is that everyone treated me well. The people are great, and the city is amazing, so it’s nice to be able to enjoy it on a little more positive note and this weekend has certainly done that.”
A self-proclaimed, country-music lover, Colorado Avalanche forward Matt Duchene, who had expressed his affinity for the city earlier in the week, reiterated his belief that Nashville is one of the top destinations in North America.
“It was great,” Duchene said. “The people here are so nice; truly that Southern Hospitality is here, and they make this town even better than it already is with all the attractions and music. It’s awesome.”
Usually the enemy when they enter Bridgestone Arena, Jamie Benn and Lindy Ruff of the Dallas Stars also expressed their appreciation for the city of Nashville after a memorable weekend.
“It was awesome,” Benn said. “Nashville did a great job in hosting this event, and the fans are great, and it was a lot of fun to be a part of. “
"The weekend was fabulous,” Ruff said. “It's a heck of a city. The entertainment outside of the games was fabulous and the weather the past couple days was some of the nicest weather you could get.”
Pacific Division Captain John Scott, who was embraced by fans throughout the weekend, also had praise to echo for the hospitality.
“I love this city,” Scott said in a postgame interview to the Bridgestone Arena crowd. “Thank you so much.”
As someone who plays in Nashville full time, Neal and the rest of his teammates were excited to show off their city to the rest of the hockey world. They did just that.
“It’s been a great weekend for hockey in Nashville, and I think everyone can see that,” Neal said.