Thomas Willis interviewing Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi during the 2013-2014 season. Credit: Kris Martel

A New Beginning and My Top 10 Memories

I’m excited to announce my time as the editor of Predlines is coming to a close because of a new opportunity I’ve been given with the Nashville Predators.

Starting at the mid-point of this month, I’ll begin a role with the Predators as their Interactive Media Manager. To say this is something I’ve worked toward for awhile is an understatement.

This “new day job” does mean my time as manager of this site must end, however. So please start following my personal Twitter account @TomAWillis for Predators news, stories, media and a little more about me. I’d love to stay connected with you the reader/fan in that way.

But of course I can’t leave you without writing a few thoughts, so cue the sappy music…

10 things from running Predlines that have stuck with me (in no particular order):

The Predators Online Media Contingent, aka “The Boys” or “Game-time family”: You know them well: Kris Martel (The Predatorial), Jeremy Gover (Cellblock 303), Justin Bradford (Penalty Box Radio) and Robby Stanley (Smashville 24/7). If they aren’t as cool and welcoming as they were during my time with Predlines, I’m not writing this post.

13-14 Preds Media Contingent. Credit: Martel's phone, maybe?

13-14 Preds Media Contingent. Credit: Martel’s phone, maybe?

Breaking news on Rinne: I didn’t know what was ahead of me when I walked into a Predators practice at Centennial Sportsplex shortly before the Olympic break. There on the ice–surprisingly–was goaltender Pekka Rinne, the man missing from the crease for months. A pic, a tweet and hundreds of shares later, I’d broken my first big story and trended on Twitter in Nashville to boot.

Weber cracking a joke at Ellis/me: After the final morning skate of the 2013-2014 season, I was filming a video with Ryan Ellis and talking to the defenseman about his career-best season. Shea Weber, who had been trying to distract Ellis the whole time we’d been talking, delivered this gem (below), and he even tried to do it in deadpan, but was unsuccessful.

Getting to be around and talk about the greatest game in the world: It’s been said that “you don’t always appreciate what you have until it’s gone,” but when I was covering the Predators, it was easy to recognize the special opportunity and place I was in. For example, I still remember one day after practice when Barry Trotz stood next to the locker room for over half-an-hour talking to me about different facets of the game. And it wasn’t even for a story.

Drinking a Mountain Dew when the Buffalo Sabres were in town: Since I’d like to live past the age of 50, I almost always avoid drinking Mountain Dew. But on March 28 after a tiring day at the office, I took the plunge shortly before faceoff. The result? Four first period goals for Nashville, including Colton Sissons‘s and Calle Jarnkrok‘s first tallies at the NHL level. (Randy Guiler knows what I’m talking about here!). Also, I’m still waiting on my assist to be awarded.

Rich Clune: Yeah there’s a lot to be said here–all good of course. Top Clune memory? Probably him jumping out from the weight room after a game and landing right in front of me before flexing both of this arms and proclaiming: “Best arms in the league right here, baby!” After the initial shock wore off, I laughed (a lot).

Media Appearances on TV and radio: I had the opportunity to analyze and brag about the Predators with some fun shows and stations during my time with Predlines. Here’s one of my radio interviews with Montreal Hockey Talk and below is my segment on WTVF in Nashville:

Some top stories I thoroughly enjoyed researching and writing:

Exploring the Ford Ice Center

–Learning about goaltender coach Ben Vanderklok’s road to Nashville

Rinne’s comeback

Trotz’s goodbye

–Profiling what the Nashville Predators Foundation has done for my wife’s school and so many others.

Getting to know our great team a little better: Just in case you didn’t realize: We as media, fans and Nashvillians are blessed with the specific NHL team we’ve been given. Let me be the one to remind you of just how special it is that we have the players, management, arena and experiences we enjoy because of the Predators. I feel like I learned how to relish all this just a little better this past season, and I’m looking forward to that only growing in the future.

Thank you: I’d be remiss not to specifically thank a few people. Thanks to my wife, Elizabeth, for proofreading hundreds of my stories. Plus, let me share my appreciation to FanSided for this opportunity and to James and Mark for writing with me. Thanks to bloggers’ row (including Patten and Hirsh in spirit). Thanks to Daniel Lavender of Admirals Roundtable for helping write a few guest posts for the site and for being a generally cool dude.

My appreciation also goes out to the players and coaches I asked endless questions of and to Kevin Wilson for giving me the chance to talk to them.

Finally, a huge thank you to all the fans and followers of this site that read, commented and liked my posts. It was a honor to serve you all. I’ll see you on the Predators site and @TomAWillis on Twitter!

See you guys in September! Come say “Hi” at a game anytime!

Tags: Nashville Predators Predators History Thomas Willis

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