New Predators forward Martin Gelinas, who was signed by Nashville as a free agent on July 26, brings valuable NHL experience to a squad that is shaping up to be collectively younger than last season's group. When he steps on the ice for the Predators' opening-night game with the Colorado Avalanche on Oct. 4, the 19-year pro will become the oldest player ever to skate for the franchise at 37 years, 121 days.
The Shawinigan, Quebec, native has played for six NHL squads over three decades, winning the Stanley Cup as a second-year pro with Edmonton in 1990, and reaching the finals on three other occasions in 1994 with Vancouver, 2002 with Carolina, and 2004 with Calgary. In 1,216 NHL regular-season games, he has an even 300 goals and 800 penalty minutes to go along with 340 assists. We recently caught up with the new Nashvillian after an on-ice training session at the Predators' practice facility.Q. Why did you choose Nashville?
A. “I had an offer by Florida, but for family reasons, it didn’t really work out. I got a call from Nashville, after talking with them, my family – I have three kids and two of them are older – got excited about the team and the city and we decided to make the move.”Q. How are the kids adapting to their new home?
A. “We got in town two-and-a-half weeks ago and the kids started school two weeks ago. I have a 12-year-old, a 10-year-old and a 22-month-old, and they love the area and they are already very active; they are playing soccer and hockey, so they are getting a good feel for the community.”Q. What are your first impressions of the city and the team?
A. “I have to be honest with you, I was really taken by surprise with how nice everyone was. Usually you go to Starbucks and they just throw the coffee at you, but here they said ‘have a great day’ and were friendly. We were welcomed by the neighbors, one brought over cookies and the other brought over meatballs. It is just something we weren’t used to in Florida and we are welcoming the opportunity to be here.”Q. Are there any current or former Predators that you talked to in making your decision to come here?
A. “I talked to Scott Nichol, who I played with in Calgary, to make sure I got a good feel for the city for family reasons. He was raving about the city and the organization so it was a pretty easy decision. The only other current Predator I know is Jason Arnott from my time with Edmonton, but that was quite a while back.”Q. What do you see your role as here?
A. “I am a pretty versatile player. I can play any position and on any line. I can play the power play or on the penalty kill or five-on-five. My game has always been to work hard and create things – to take time and space away from people and create time and space for myself. My game is work ethic, and hopefully that rubs off on my teammates. I know they are a hard-working team. I have heard good things about this team. I just want to do my job on the ice and maybe take a leadership role in the locker room.”Q. What do you bring to this team, both intangibles and on the ice?
A. “I can’t say I am a yeller or a screamer but I try to lead by example on the ice and off the ice, and I think that goes a long way when everyone watches and takes notice.”Q. Is there anyone you are really looking forward to playing with or think your style will work well with?
A. “I want to try to get a feel for everyone. These small-sided games before training camp are good, but there are only six or seven guys so you can’t really get a good feel for anyone. Once everyone gets here and we start working hard as a team you can get a better feel for everyone.”Q. You have played on a lot of differently constructed teams (young vs. old). Can you compare this one to any you have been on before?
A. “It is hard to tell at this time. I have to get around all the guys and get a feel for everyone before I can say, ‘Yeah, this team is like one in Edmonton, or Calgary, or so on.’ From my understanding they are a very hard-working team, and we had that in Calgary, but they are also a highly skilled team, even though they lost a couple of guys over the summer. Barry Trotz was speaking highly of the young players on the team and saying they are ready to take the next step, so I am excited to be a part of that and anxious to see what they are capable of.”