This week in Nashville Predators history, a notable trade, local ownership takes charge and an impressive shootout win make the list.
December 7, 2007: Local ownership takes the helm
Predators Holdings LLC., completed its purchase of the Nashville Predators and Powers Management (the company that operates Bridgestone Arena) for $193 million from Craig Leipold and took over the day-to-day operation of the Predators and Bridgestone Arena. The purchase ended months of uncertainty and cemented the team’s future in Nashville.
“On behalf of the ownership group, we are thrilled to complete the sale,” said David Freeman, former chairman of Predators Holdings LLC. “We look forward to contributing to the Predators’ success on and off the ice and solidifying the franchise’s future in Nashville.”
The NHL Board of Governors approved the sale on November 27, 2007 to the ownership group that included local executives in finance, health care, and private business. The members were current Chairman Thomas Cigarran, Herb Fritch, Christopher Cigarran, Joel and Holly Dobberpuhl, DeWitt Thompson V, John Thompson, Warren Woo and Freeman. They’ve since been joined by Dewitt Thompson IV and W. Brett Wilson.
December 10, 2009: Preds Defeat Blue Jackets for the 13th Consecutive Time in Nashville
The Predators defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets, 4-3 in a shootout, to collect their 18th win of the season on Dec. 10 of 2009, and it continued a long stretch of losses for the Jackets in Music City. Nashville’s win marked the 13th-straight occasion that Columbus left Bridgestone Arena without a victory to their name. Keeping with the theme, Columbus’s goaltender that night, Mathieu Garon, had won and NHL-record 13 consecutive decisions in a shootout. Steve Sullivan was sure to change that.
Sullivan clinched the win in the fifth round of the shootout, after Marcel Goc and Jason Arnott had scored in rounds one and four, respectively. Dave Scatchard, Martin Erat and Arnott all tallied for the Preds in regulation, while Jordin Tootoo, Kevin Klein, Shea Weber and Ryan Suter added assists on the evening. Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne stopped 28-of-31 shots through regulation and overtime, before stopping Rick Nash, Jakub Voracek and Antoine Vermette in the shootout.
Other Preds in the lineup that night included Jerred Smithson, Ryan Jones and Francis Bouillon.
December 12, 2002: Dunham traded to Rangers, Vokoun assumes No. 1
After a 6-14-8 start to the 2002-03 season, Predators General Manager David Poile pulled the trigger on the most high-profile trade in franchise history at that point. Goaltender Mike Dunham, who had played 217 games in net for Nashville over four-plus seasons, was dealt to the New York Rangers for a promising young defenseman (Tomas Kloucek), a versatile veteran forward (Rem Murray) and a European prospect (Marek Zidlicky).
As important as the new players that entered the Predators’ fold, the deal cleared the way for a new era in Predators history. Tomas Vokoun, who had served as the “1B” option to Dunham’s “1A” up until that point, had earned the No. 1 role. Vokoun went on to play in 57 of Nashville’s final 58 games in 2002-03, starting a franchise-record 38 in a row to finish the season. Meanwhile, with a win on March 7 of that season, the Predators had rebounded to a record of 27-25-15, the team’s best ever that late in the season.
Vokoun became one of the league’s elite netminders in the Predators’ starting role. Upon his departure following the 2007-08 season, he had broken all of Dunham’s career franchise records in addition to leading Nashville to its first three playoff berths. Dunham ended his playing career in 2006-07 with the New York Islanders, and now serves as the Isles’ goaltending coach.
Zidlicky currently skates on the New Jersey Devils blue line after playing in Nashville from 2003-08. Kloucek did not remain in Nashville long, and he returned to Europe in 2007 after stretches in the Atlanta and Columbus organizations.
Meanwhile, Murray, whose versatility, work ethic and affable personality made him popular during his 92-game run in Nashville, was challenged with a rare, career-threatening neck condition (cervical dystonia) in his second season in Nashville. After a year and a half away from the game, Murray returned in 2005-06 with the AHL’s Houston Aeros. He was signed near the 2006 trade deadline by the Edmonton Oilers, and he triumphantly returned to the NHL and helped the Oilers advance to Game 7 of the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals. He retired from professional hockey in 2010.