After what has been the closest poll in this series, we pick up with a list of five Nashville Predators who wore the #23 over the years. We have a collection of stay-at-home defensemen, industrious wingers, and a heavyweight enforcer who isn't shy about bringing the crowd into the action...
A late-blooming winger who didn't earn steady NHL work until he was 28, Atcheynum was claimed from St. Louis in the 1998 Expansion Draft and played 53 games for Nashville during their initial season of 1998-1999, before being traded back to the Blues for a 6th-round draft pick. He scored 8 goals and added six assists during his time with the Preds.
Houlder showed up in our #3 poll earlier in this series, but he only wore that for one game as a Predator. For the remaining 301, he bore the #23 (longer than anyone else), and served as a steadying physical presence on the Nashville blueline. Over the course of four seasons in Nashville (1999-2000 to 2002-2003) he scored 8 goals and chipped in with 36 assists.
Another stay-at-home defenseman, Allison was signed as a free agent in the summer of 2003 and played 47 games that year as a depth blueliner. After the lockout he played 20 more games as a Pred before being placed on waivers in February 2006 and getting claimed by Florida.
Gelinas only played one season in Nashville, scoring 9 goals and providing 11 assists in 57 games during 2007-2008 (a knee injury ended his season in March). He was credited with providing a strong leadership presence to some of the younger players in the lineup, in particular Jordin Tootoo.
Following his retirement, he transitioned into a Player Development role with the Preds, travelling around and advising prospects in various leagues for three seasons. This summer, however, he joined Calgary as an assistant coach under Bob Hartley.
"Big Ern" has made a name for himself after one season in Nashville, charming fans with his fisticuffs, his exploits on Twitter, and the story of his continuing recovery from alcoholism. He's already signed up for next season at a modest $600,000, and hopes for a larger role beyond chucking knuckles and playing to the crowd.
Will he "Ern" it?