As if there wasn’t already enough excitement for the 2016 NHL All-Star Game set to take place in Nashville at the end of the month, that anticipation grew exponentially on Wednesday when three of the hometown Nashville Predators were named to the festivities.
Preds Captain Shea Weber, fellow defenseman Roman Josi and goaltender Pekka Rinne will join 41 of the League’s other top players for All-Star Weekend in Nashville Jan. 28-31, for what is sure to be a party fit for Music City.
“[The fans] are going to blow the roof off this place like they do on every game night,” Weber said. “It’s good for the city; they’re going to experience an All-Star Game for the first time. It’s been a long time coming, but they’re definitely going to put on a good show.”
Weber will be making his fifth appearance on All-Star Weekend, but Rinne and Josi are both slated to make their first career appearances in the game on Jan. 31, a notable achievement for both players.
“It means a lot,” Josi said. “It’s a huge honor. There’s so many a big dream come true.”
“To able to enjoy it in your hometown, in the town where you play is very special,” Rinne said. “Being named to the game, I feel excited. My first reaction was there are great players out there and being selected as one of the All-Stars is definitely a big honor and surprised, but it is a great honor.”
Preds Head Coach Peter Laviolette won’t get the chance to stand behind the bench this year as he did last season in Columbus, but he’s looking forward to what the game will bring and seeing some familiar faces on the ice representing the Predators organization.
“I’m sure we’re going to put on a terrific show for the All-Star Game, and we’re proud to have three of our players in there,” Laviolette said. “It’ll be a great event. It’s an honor to be part of something like that and for us to have three guys especially [is great].”
Weber and Josi, widely regarded as one of, if not the top defensive pair in the NHL, will get the chance to skate together in the game on the Central Division squad, something that occurs on a nightly basis, but never on this stage before.
“I think Shea said he would only come if I could come, so that’s why I’m with him,” Josi joked. “No it’s definitely a lot of fun. We’ve been playing together for a long time and we became really good friends off the ice too, so it’s a lot of fun that we can be in it together.”
And while there is plenty of excitement among those selected to participate in the game, there is an equal excitement about what the event will mean for the city and the Preds fans.
“I’m sure it’s going to be so much fun,” Rinne said. “Especially for our fans, I think it’s really special. Just be able to showcase our city, showcase our rink, our fans; I feel like a lot of people already know what kind of fans we have, but now they really get more attention and I’m excited for them too. I can’t wait for it and it's going to be a fun weekend.”
Video with Preds All-Stars: