The 2018 NHL All-Star Game is nearly a week away and we’re recapping the top Nashville Predators All-Star Game performances over the years.
The 2018 NHL All-Star Game in Tampa, Florida quickly descends upon us. While the city of Nashville will not be hosting as it did in 2016, a few pieces of the city will be participating in the game. P.K. Subban, captaining the Central Division, will represent the Predators along with Pekka Rinne and Head Coach Peter Laviolette. In the spirit of nostalgia, we’d like to reminisce on the top Nashville Predators performances at the big event.
To begin, we must return to 1999. Y2K loomed large, Prince’s “1999” played almost every hour. Nashville had just sprouted its hockey franchise in a league where non-traditional hockey markets didn’t make a whole bunch of sense. It was in that year the Predators sent their first ever participant to the All-Star Game.
1999 – 2004
Nashville remained a fledgling club struggling to cement itself in the Western Conference. At that time, an expansion roster was not made up of incredible expansion draftees (*cough cough, Vegas). But, in the “North America vs World” format, the game needed a skilled, long-haired Russian forward. Nashville had the perfect candidate.
The league elected Sergei Krivokrasov, Nashville’s expansion selection from Chicago, to the 1999 game. Despite losing the game and failing to make an impact on the game, Nashville’s first step in All-Star History was taken.
Nashville would not send another All-Star participant until 2004. At this All-Star Game in Minnesota, Nashville would once again be represented, this time by defenseman Kimmo Timonen and goaltender Tomas Vokoun. However, the two would be on the losing end of a 6-4 loss to the Eastern conference.
2007 – 2012
The Predators entered the 2007 All-Star break an incredible 34-12-3. The league rewarded them by choosing Barry Trotz as one of All-Star Game coaches, along with Randy Carlyle of the Anaheim Ducks. Also sent that season was defenseman Kimmo Timonen. The game resulted in the first All-Star win for any member of the Predators with the West beating the East.
2008 saw Predators captain Jason Arnott sent to the game in Atlanta where he tallied an assist. In 2009, Shea Weber began his long tenure at the All-Star Game. Weber would attend the next four games as a representative of the Predators.
Possibly the best performance by a Nashville Predator in an All-Star Game came in 2011. Shea Weber tallied four assists to help Team Lidstrom to a victory. Additionally, Weber competed for the title of Hardest Shot but lost to Zdeno Chara in the finals by just over two miles per hour.
In 2012, the final year before a three-year All-Star hiatus, Nashville sent Ryan Suter , Shea Weber and Craig Smith to the Canadian Tire Center in Ottowa. Interestingly, it remains the only All-Star Game in which Predators players were chosen on opposite teams. Team Alfredsson selected Shea Weber (as well as Scott Hartnell, then with Philadelphia) and Team Chara selected Ryan Suter. Additionally, Team Alfredsson selected Craig Smith from the rookie pool for the skills challenge.
2015 – 2017
The NHL All-Star Game returned in 2015, this time taking place at Nationwide Arena in Columbus. Rookie Filip Forsberg, captain Shea Weber and Head Coach Peter Laviolette represented the Nashville Predators on Team Toews in a memorable contest. In the skills challenge, Shea Weber set a personal record for hardest shot at 108.5 mph. That speed sits as the second hardest in All-Star Game history behind Zdeno Chara’s 108.8 in 2012. During the actual All-Star Game, Forsberg scored twice and Weber recorded an assist en route to a victory. Future Nashville Predator Ryan Johansen was selected as the MVP.
Finally, in 2016, Nashville got its chance to show the league what a hockey city it really is. A franchise record four players participated in the event: goaltender Pekka Rinne, defensemen Roman Josi and Shea Weber, and forward James Neal. Josi and Neal both found the back of the net (Neal twice) and Weber had two assists. However, the Central Division lost 9 – 6 to the Pacific in the first round.
2017 marked a big moment for the Nashville Predators as P.K. Subban became the first All-Star Game captain in franchise history. Unfortunately, the Central would suffer a 10 – 3 routing at the hands of the Pacific Division.
This year, P.K. Subban will once again captain the Central Division back where it all started for Nashville. If you asked hockey fans back in 1999 whether or not Nashville would end up as a top team in the league, you would have received a lot of no’s. But today, Nashville is a top five team and continues to impress. It’s only fitting that the Nashville Predators will return to Tampa much more mature than in that baby season, with an All-Star captain and coach to boot.