"I'm really optimistic," Predators Head Coach John Hynes, who oversaw his first normal training camp since joining the Preds in January of 2020, said. "We have good team chemistry, and I've been really impressed with the way the guys have worked every day… When you look at the pace of the practices, the execution, where we're working with the competitiveness and practices, it's the best since I've been here. It feels like it's where it needs to be to be a good team, to be a competitive team, to get better… We accomplished what we wanted to accomplish in training camp, and I give a lot of credit to the guys. You can push people, but when it's coming internally from them and they're showing up every day and putting the work in, [that's encouraging]."
"It's been a very positive training camp," Preds center Ryan Johansen said. "There's been a lot of good things we've seen from our guys, from our team. Just the chemistry, the steps we've taken and getting ready for the season; the biggest thing you want out of that is knowing, going into game one, that you've put in the work to set yourself up for success. I think we're all very proud of our efforts and our commitment to getting ready to be at a level where we're not thinking about anything else other than just going out there and playing."
Much has been made about the normalcy of this camp compared to the past 18 months, but there's something to it, according to Johansen. Not only were the Preds thrilled to be back under somewhat ordinary circumstances, but the opportunity to welcome and get to know a number of fresh faces was appreciated, especially from a veteran playmaker.
"I think it's an underappreciated or undervalued thing to go through a training camp," Johansen said. "With every season comes some little adjustments, some new faces where you can really compete against each other, work for each other and battle against each other, to prepare each other for the season… Going through this training camp, we've really enjoyed this time together, and the new faces, where we can come together and understand and learn about each other's games and their personalities, and I've had some time to take young guys out for dinners and things like that - it's been a lot of fun. It's been great getting to know our new boys, and they're all very special guys, great character guys that fit in right away."
Getting along is one thing, but something else struck Hynes as he looked back at the team's camp, a mentality that began last season when Nashville turned things around halfway through the campaign.
Compared to the start of the previous season, Hynes sees a different appreciation from his players on how the Preds have to operate to be successful - and that may be the best change of all.
"In talking with the players prior to camp, and just in the summer and getting ready, I think they really understood what needed to change," Hynes said. "What needed to change the second half of last year was how competitive we play and the work that it takes to win night in and night out. They have taken responsibility that we have to be a hard-working team, and that gives us a chance. Now, we have skill and we have some talent, we have all those things combined, but they've really taken ownership of how hard you have to practice, how hard you have to play, and I think that work is not a chore anymore. I think before, it was almost a little bit of a chore, where now [the players know] this is who we are, this is what we need to do, and it's being driven from them - expected from the coaches, but driven by the players."
Preds Assistant Coach Todd Richards Recovering Well Following Heart Attack:
The day before the Predators were to host the Tampa Bay Lightning in Nashville for their fourth preseason game of 2021, Nashville Assistant Coach Todd Richards suffered a heart attack, and an announcement was officially made three days later.
Since that time, Richards has not only returned home from the hospital, but he may just end up behind the bench again on Opening Night.
Richards was back on the ice with his team during Monday's practice, and while the Preds want him to take things easy and not rush back into action, the veteran coach's progress has been encouraging as he works his way back to full health.
"We're hopeful for that," Hynes said of Richards's potential to coach on Opening Night. "He did go to the game on Saturday, so we've kind of taken it in steps. He was at the game Saturday, he stayed in the coaches' room, watched the game with the video guys, was with us in between periods, he did his normal video workload, postgame breakdown, got all that done, presented some stuff today, and first day was on the ice today, so that's good… What we told him is he has to go at his own pace, so he's going to try and then just see how he responds. He continues to respond really well, and he's not fatigued and feels good, so that would be the plan, but if he needs more time then we'll give him more time."
Matier Signs Entry-Level Contract, Scores Five Points:
Jack Matier had himself a Monday.
The 18-year-old defenseman, who was selected by the Predators in the fourth round (124th overall) of the 2021 NHL Draft in July, signed his three-year, entry-level contract with Nashville, and the announcement came at 2 p.m. CT.
With Monday also being Thanksgiving Day in Canada, Matier and his team, the Ontario Hockey League's Ottawa 67's, were playing a holiday matinee at the same time.
Less than 10 minutes after the deal was announced, Matier found the back of the net for his first OHL goal - and he wasn't done there. By the time the afternoon was finished, Matier had registered five points (2g-3a) in Ottawa's 7-3 victory over Oshawa with his family in attendance.
"Obviously it's a dream come true. Every kid wants to play in the NHL, and this is a stepping stone towards that," Matier said via the 67's website. "But also, I was able to [contribute to today's win], so I'm thankful for that."
Congratulations to Matier who had plenty to be thankful for this year.
Preds Prospect Luke Evangelista Named Captain of London Knights:
Another Nashville prospect not only had a two-goal Thanksgiving Day, but he also did so wearing the 'C' for his club.
Predators 2020 second-round pick Luke Evangelista was named captain by his junior team - the OHL's London Knights - on Friday, and then the forward proceeded to score twice and add another in the shootout to lead the Knights to a 4-3 win on Monday.
The 19-year-old Evangelista, who signed his entry-level deal last November, attended Predators Development Camp in August and has four goals and five points in three games for London so far this season.
Sign Up for Preds Blood Drive with the American Red Cross:
Preds fans helped to save more than 10,000 lives in 2020, and you can continue to raise that number in 2021.
The Nashville Predators have once again teamed up with the American Red Cross to host blood drives all over the region now through Oct. 15. All donors who make an appointment online and donate blood will receive a Preds foam puck and will be entered to win an autographed puck as well.
To make an appointment visit redcrossblood.org and enter sponsor code Preds19.
Mike Fisher Celebrity Clay Shoot Set for Oct. 27:
The Third Annual CATCHIN' DEERS Mike Fisher Celebrity Clay Shoot presented by Cooper Steel will be a fun afternoon of clay shooting hosted by Mike Fisher and the Nashville Predators Foundation empowered by SmileDirectClub.
The 100-bird course clay shooting tournament will be hosted at the Nashville Gun Club along the beautiful Cumberland River. All levels of play are welcome to participate, including beginners (must be 18 or older). Each team of four will be paired with a celebrity and safety officers will be on hand to assist.
Registration includes ammunition, an exclusive shooter gift bag, boxed lunch & dinner, post event beverages and awards. The tournament will start at 1 p.m. with 100 targets per participant. Prizes will be awarded for the first and second team winners, in addition to a first-place individual overall winner.
Click here for more information and to reserve your team or sponsorship.
Predators Official Podcast:
The 2021-22 NHL season is almost here, and Opening Night is less than one week away. The Predators have reached the conclusion of Training Camp, and there are some tough roster decisions to make. Brooks Bratten and Kara Hammer discuss, plus NHL Insider Elliotte Friedman joins the show (17:24) to talk all things Preds. Also, listen to see how you can win tickets to see the Predators host Seattle at Bridgestone Arena on Opening Night!
Upcoming Bridgestone Arena Events:
In addition to Predators hockey, there are plenty of other exciting events coming to Bridgestone Arena. Make plans to attend your next concert or show today.
Oct. 17: Zac Brown Band: The Comeback Tour (negative COVID-19 test or vaccination card required for entry). Click here for tickets.
Oct. 22 & 23: RESCHEDULED: Chris Stapleton: All-American Road Show (negative COVID-19 test or vaccination card required for entry). Click here for tickets.
Oct. 24: Dave Chappelle & Joe Rogan (negative COVID-19 test or vaccination card required for entry). Click here for tickets.
Oct. 25: RESCHEDULED: The Doobie Brothers: 50th Anniversary Tour (negative COVID-19 test or vaccination card required for entry). Click here for tickets.
Oct. 27: Elevation Nights: Elevation Worship & Steven Furtick (negative COVID-19 test or vaccination card required for entry). Click here for tickets.
Oct. 29: NEEDTOBREATHE: Into the Mystery Tour (negative COVID-19 test or vaccination card required for entry). Click here for tickets.
Week In Review:
Predators Set 2021-22 Opening Night Roster
Nichol's Promotion to Assistant GM Perfect Fit as Preds Career Continues
Predators Assign Ingram, McCarron to Milwaukee
Predators Sign Jack Matier to Three-Year, Entry-Level Contract
Predators Promote Scott Nichol to Assistant General Manager
Predators Assign Afanasyev, Davies to Milwaukee
Preds Conclude Preseason with Four-Game Win Streak, Top Carolina Again
Jeannot, Afanasyev Taking Different Paths on NHL Journey to Nashville
Preds Captain Josi to Represent Switzerland at 2022 Winter Olympics
Borowiecki, Glass Open Up on Mental Health, Encouraged by Progress in NHL
DEWALT Named First-Ever Official Tool Partner of the Nashville Predators
Preds, Bridgestone Arena Reveal New Food Offerings, Renovations
Tomasino Tallies OT Winner as Preds Beat Hurricanes in Carolina
Preds to Host Healthcare Hero Nights Presented by SMASHVILLE
Predators Assign Four to Milwaukee
Preds Announce Single-Game Tickets On Sale for April Home Games on Oct. 6