Updated September 2017.
Wisconsin businessman Craig Leipold made a proposal to the NHL to bring the league to Nashville. It was granted in June 1997 and play began in 1998-99. The logo, which was a reference to the saber-toothed cat skeleton that was discovered beneath the city in 1971, was founded before the team name. After a fan vote, “Predators” became the name.
The club employed the same coach from its inception until the end of the 2013-14 season. Barry Trotz is a two-time finalist for the Jack Adams Award as coach of the year (2010 and 2011). He has since been succeeded by Peter Laviolette.
With only one playoff series under their belts before the 2004-05 lockout, the Predators built a Stanley Cup-caliber roster for the 2005 and 2006 postseasons. Unfortunately, Paul Kariya, Kimmo Timonen and Tomas Vokoun could not get the Predators passed the San Jose Sharks, who defeated the Predators in the quarterfinals both seasons.
The franchise won its first playoff series in 2011, when it defeated the Anaheim Ducks in six games only to lose the next series to the Vancouver Canucks, 4-2.
The Predators did not qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs in 2013 or 2014, but returned in 2015. Both times, the Predators fell victim to the eventual Western Conference champions (2015: first round, Chicago Blackhawks; 2016, second round: San Jose Sharks).
The Predators have always been known for their defensive lineup, but a major shakeup occurred in June 2016. GM Poile traded his longtime captain, Shea Weber, to the Montreal Canadiens for P.K. Subban. With Roman Josi on defense, Pekka Rinne in goal, and a crop of talented forwards (Filip Forsberg, Ryan Johansen, James Neal), the Predators went on a tear through the Western Conference playoffs in 2017 as the final playoff seed, losing just four times against the Chicago Blackhawks, St. Louis Blues and Anaheim Ducks. However, the Pittsburgh Penguins thwarted the Preds’ Cup hopes, winning the Final in six games.
Feature photo courtesy Jim Diamond | Flickr
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