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One-on-One with Vince Gill

by Staff Writer / Nashville Predators
County Music Hall of Famer Vince Gill grew up a hockey fan from childhood and has been a Predators season ticket holder since Day 1. Gill has been among the team’s biggest supporters in the Nashville area; he has sang the National Anthem at games and helped on team marketing campaigns. caught up with Gill while he was at the Sommet Center for a recent promotional shoot. How did you become involved with hockey and the Predators?
Vince Gill: I always liked the game. I always liked hockey. I grew up in Oklahoma City; you wouldn’t think there would be hockey there, but there was. The Bruins had a farm team in the CHL in Oklahoma City, the Blazers. And I saw a lot of great hockey as a young kid and I always enjoyed the sport. When I found out the NHL was coming to Nashville and Craig (Leipold) called and said, ‘I know you’re a big supporter of things that go on in town and community wise, and I’d love to have your help.’ And we became good friends, Craig Leipold and I. So I started coming Day 1 and helped him with advertising and when they needed someone to sing at functions. It came down simply to I really just enjoy the game. I probably enjoy live hockey more than any sport I go see; I like college basketball a lot, but hockey live – there’s nothing like it. You’ve been known to get a little intense during some Predators games. What is it about hockey that you enjoy so much?
Vince: I love the speed of it. And even as violent as it appears, it’s really not; the way they police it and take care of themselves. Some guys are off limits; you don’t hit them. There’s an integrity to the game that I like. At the end of the day it’s pretty respectful, even though they fight and run into each other. So through the Blazers did you grow up a Bruins fan?
Vince: I did. I have some old team pictures with Terry Crisp in them. Funny that he’s our announcer now. Who were your favorite players growing up?
Vince: Gosh there were so many guys I saw come through the Blazers. Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito didn’t actually play in Oklahoma City, but they were such a big stars on the Bruins. I remember seeing Jim Lorentz and Wayne Cashman play, a couple of the guys who were on those teams early on. Who are your favorite Preds players of all time.
Vince: Since I’ve been with the Preds, I’ve gotten pretty close with a couple of the players. Darcy Hordichuk and I got to be pretty good buddies. I was good friends with Mike Dunham; he was a great golfer and we used to play golf together a little bit. And there have been some others through the years as well. What’s your favorite memories from Predators games?
Vince: Really, being a fan from the start and just seeing the team get better and better is pretty special. When we first came into the league it seemed like we weren’t very competitive, but we’ve grown quite a bit and we’re getting better players; going out and getting guys like Jason Arnott and Paul Kariya, and J.P. Dumont. And Jordin (Tootoo) is fun to watch. When he’s on the ice, it’s interesting to watch the intensity level of the crowd. When he goes on the ice, everybody knows it and they all blow their whistles and you know he’s going to go hit some body.

Vince Gill and wife Amy Grant are hosting Challenge America 2009, an initiative to support the development of recreational and occupational programs in willing communities to link new and existing services to better serve returning injured military and their families. The event is scheduled for Monday, June 8, 2009 at the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington, DC. Click here for more information on Challenge America 2009.
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