Nashville

The sports world’s eyes will be on Nashville tonight like never before.

The Nashville Predators are one win away from advancing to the Stanley Cup Final. It’s such a simple statement, but then again it’s such a special one.

Nashville was a part of this sort of run back in 1999 when the Titans made it to the Super Bowl, but they punched their ticket to the NFL’s championship away from home in Jacksonville. That was just the Titans’ third season as a Tennessee franchise. It was new, it was fresh and of course extremely exciting for the city, but it was different.

Something else was happening in Music City when the Titans were making their run to Super Bowl XXXIV; the Predators had just completed their first season as a franchise. The city had the hockey team, but it’s pretty safe to say the hockey team didn’t have the city.

Fast forward 19 seasons – which featured extremely tough times as a franchise as well as playoff runs – and Nashville can not get enough of the Predators.

The buzz around the city is something you can actually feel. Everywhere you go you hear people talking Preds. People at the coffee shop, grocery store clerks, random people you see on a mountain bike trail, your parents, pastors, people in the gym, the mailman; everyone is following this team. You see ‘Stand With Us’ flags hanging from buildings in every corner of the city and even in front of the many, many construction sites around town.

And no, I’m not saying that Nashville is doing something rare here. Other cities get behind their teams and show support during runs like this, but this is a first for Nashville, let’s not forget that and with that, the whole situation seems just a bit more intimate.

Nashville isn’t New York, Nashville isn’t Chicago or Boston. Nashville is new to all of this, really.

Beyond the fact that the Preds are still playing hockey on May 22, I think the fact that Nashville is one of the fastest growing cities in the country adds to the excitement. The city is filling up with young people and transplants from all over. Add that to those who have lived here and watched this city grow at an insane rate over the past 10 or so years and beyond and you have a group of people wanting Nashville to be put on the map in an even larger way.

Simply put, Nashville is having fun, everyone is on this ride and they’re not ready to get off.

The Predators started this year’s playoff journey 39 days ago back on April 13. They’ve done the unthinkable by sweeping the top seeded Blackhawks, they topped the Blues in six games, and they’ve certainly gone through their fair share of injury adversity, but they haven’t stopped. Neither has Nashville or the buzz around the city.

The city’s heartbeat has gone with the Predators over the last 39 days.

To the many new fans the Preds have picked up along the way, those that have held season tickets since the inaugural season, those that may watch their first hockey game ever tonight, the fans in the building, outside the building, media members and everyone in between:

Embrace Game Six, embrace Bridgestone Arena, embrace the people you watch the game with at the bar or your house, embrace the radio broadcast you have to listen to, embrace the score updates you get while working the night-shift, embrace Nashville and what this team is doing tonight.

The Ducks are going to have a say in all of this of course, but tonight is a special moment for Nashville as a city and as a family and every second of that is worth enjoying.