If you’ve ever attended at Nashville Predators hockey game at Bridgestone Arena you know how much music is part of the game experience. From the best anthem singers in the NHL (including “Oh, Canada!”) to the rockin’ soundtrack pumping up the crowd during breaks in the action, the Gold Legion enjoys music almost as much as the play on the ice. We got some of the Preds’ defensive unit together to talk about their favorite local music venues and concerts, and it turns out that they’re big fans of the Nashville scene.
Roman Josi is the handsome captain of the team, and the soft-spoken leader is instantly recognizable whenever he goes out on the town. That doesn’t stop him from checking out some tunes at a few local honky-tonks, though. “We don’t get to too many concerts during the season because we’re so busy, but I do like to go to FGL House and Crazy Town. There are so many good new bars downtown and some cool new rooftops. My favorite shows lately were Drake at Bridgestone and Taylor Swift at Nissan Stadium. Drake was very cool, and Taylor always puts on a big show!”
Josi’s usual defensive linemate is Ryan Ellis, a steady performer with a beard that strikes terror into the hearts of anyone who might hand him a bowl of soup. The long-time Predator stalwart recently signed a huge contract in the offseason, ensuring that he’ll be around for several more years to attend shows in Music City. His musical tastes are quite varied: “I’m not a huge country guy, but I always tell visitors that they need to see a show at the Ryman. There’s a lot to do downtown that isn’t a honky tonk, but I do like the new places opened by all the country stars like FGL House, Jason Aldean, Dierks Bentley and Blake Shelton.”
Ellis also attended the recent concert by his fellow Canadian Drake (“He always puts on a good show,”) but his favorite performance recently was a little harder than the Toronto rapper. “I went to the Avenged Sevendust show at the ‘Stone [Bridgestone], and they absolutely rocked!”
Dan Hamuis started his NHL career as a Predator from 2003-2010, but he only recently returned to the team after playing in Vancouver and Dallas. The cagy veteran kept up with all the changes in Nashville while he was consorting with the enemy. “I’ve gotten to see the city as a visiting player through the years, and my teammates would always ask me where to go when we were in town.”
Some of his favorite memories are of shows he attended when he was still a young new player in the league living in Nashville. “I was a country music fan before I got here, and I remember seeing Zac Brown at the Wildhorse Saloon way back when. One of the most special concerts I ever attended was a Second Harvestsongwriter show at the Ryman, and I still remember seeing Coldplay at AmSouth Amphitheater.” Considering that AmSouth (known by most Nashville natives as Starwood) was bulldozed back in 2007 when many of the current Predators were still playing for their neighborhood Mighty Mite hockey clubs, Hamhuis is definitely a font of institutional knowledge for his team.
Swedish defenseman Matthias Ekholm is an underappreciated performer in the league, but those in the know consider him to be a star defender playing in the shadow of some other bigger personalities. But when it comes to attending concerts in Nashville, he’s a rock star with a country bent. “Honestly, I didn’t like country before I got here, but now I love all the bars downtown. I see lots of shows at Bridgestone Arenabecause they can usually hook us up with tickets. I took my fiancee to see Adele, and I thought she was really good. I’ve also seen Beyonce, Eric Church and Taylor play there, and even if I didn’t know every song, I thought they were great! I also enjoy going to see the bands playing all over town at AmericanaFest.” Part of his heart still lies in his homeland, and he offers a hot tip. “You should really listen to Zara Larsson. She’s a Swedish pop star who’s really good!”
Yannick Weber doesn’t play every game for the Preds, platooning on the third defensive pairing with some other talented young players, but the Swiss d-man spends his time off wisely. Besides studying other teams for upcoming games, Weber has become quite a fan of local music. “Growing up in Switzerland, country music wasn’t huge, but you can’t ignore it when you’re here in Nashville. There are so many great venues from Bridgestoneto Nissan Stadiumto Ascend Amphitheater, and I’ve seen some fantastic bands. Kings of Leon and Jack White live in town and put on a great show, and I thought Fleet Foxes at the Rymanwas very entertaining.” Weber is also a big fan of the wife of his former captain, Mike Fisher. “I don’t mind seeing Carrie Underwood either,” he jokes.
So keep your eyes peeled the next time you’re at a local music show. That tall good-looking guy with the funny accent standing next to you might just be a member of your hometown hockey club!