Monday’s are better with a little bit of hockey alongside your lunch.
That’s exactly what those in attendance for the Predators Face-Off Luncheon got on Oct. 13, as the Nashville Sports Council and Comcast Spotlight Sports Speaker Series presented an opportunity to view the Nashville Predators on ice for practice at Bridgestone Arena, followed by lunch in the brand-new Lexus Lounge.
Attendees got the chance to not only relax and enjoy lunch in the swanky space, but also were afforded the opportunity to hear from speakers such as Predators President Sean Henry and General Manager David Poile, as well as Head Coach Peter Laviolette, forwards Derek Roy, Matt Cullen and Paul Gaustad, plus defenseman Roman Josi.
Although he is currently injured, Cullen participated in Monday’s practice and could be returning to the lineup soon. While seated two spots away from his head coach on the stage, the forward found himself in a peculiar spot during the question and answer session. Cullen is the only current Preds player to have skated under Laviolette prior to this season [the two won a Stanley Cup together in Carolina in 2006]. Due to his familiarity with the new bench boss, Cullen was asked what Laviolette does well that makes him an effective coach.
Before Cullen answered, Laviolette jokingly alluded to the forward that a unique opportunity to earn extra ice time had presented itself.
“There’s power play, there’s penalty kill, and you can work yourself up and down the lineup right now as we sit here today,” Laviolette said down the line to Cullen.
Cullen, as well as the crowd, had a good laugh at the offer. At the conclusion of Cullen’s answer, Laviolette deemed the response acceptable.
“That’ll get him a few minutes on the power play,” Laviolette said.
Cullen’s exemplary statement, as well as thoughts from Laviolette and Roy, are included below:
Cullen on what makes Laviolette an effective coach:
“We’ve had some good experiences together. Of course when we were in Carolina winning the Stanley Cup and the thing that has always struck me and impressed me is the way that coach gets the most out of everybody. The year we won in Carolina, our fourth line center had 15 goals… Especially in today’s era with the salary cap and lack of ability to make a lot of changes, the best coaches are the guys that can get the most out of each of their guys and get guys to embrace their role and make the most of it… That’s always struck me as a thing that separates ‘Lavy’ from a lot of coaches.”
Roy on playing in Nashville:
“When you come in [to Bridgestone Arena] on the road, when you’re on the other team, it’s tough with the fans and how loud they cheer. It’s pretty rowdy in here so when you’re an opposing team coming in, it’s a little intimidating. The last game on Saturday night [against Dallas] during a TV timeout, there were a few straight minutes where the fans just kept cheering. You don’t know how much that does for us as a team. It gives us confidence, it gives us momentum and energy to go out for the next shift and perform. Credit to you guys being a loud crowd and just great fans. The city’s been great, great weather and great people… It’s a good feeling to come to the city and be welcomed right away. My teammates have been great so far and we’re just trying to work out there and obtain one goal. That’s the Stanley Cup and we’re just going to keep working at it and get better every day.”
Laviolette on the team getting off to a 2-0 start:
“I think the guys have done a really good job of coming to camp with an open mind and, more importantly, working hard every day. It seems every day is another good day at practice and today was no different. We had a day off yesterday and sometimes after a day off, [performance] can dip a little bit and you have to build it back up. Coming in after a day off, I think first and foremost in practice is really the work ethic and an open mind to ideas of what we want to do and how we want to play. Ultimately, I think when a team can understand that concept and play that concept together, [that team] becomes hard to play against. It’s early on and the results are nice because they put you in a better frame of mind coming to the rink, but we’re still working at it. There are things we can still do better, but today was great because we had a group that had a day off yesterday after a tough few days and they came in and worked really hard again. I think that’s what you’re seeing on the ice too.”