While a parcel of journeymen donned the #42 for Nashville, today's poll does include two interesting contenders for the title of the greatest to ever wear that number for the Predators: the infamous "Captain Hair", and a young defenseman who is looking to earn a regular NHL job for the first time this fall.
Bouchard played defense for 8 different NHL teams over the course of his career, and had his best offensive season for Nashville in 1998-99, with four goals and 11 assists in 64 games, leading the Predators in average ice time per game during that inaugural season. The next year, however, after playing another 52 games for the Preds, Bouchard was waived and subsequently claimed by the Dallas Stars.
Skrbek, a 6'3" Czech defenseman, came to Nashville via trade from Pittsburgh in exchange for Bob Boughner, but he only played eight games for the Predators over the course of two seasons before heading back to Europe in the summer of 2001, never to return.
Schnabel was a huge defenseman claimed off waivers in January 2001 from Phoenix, but he only played one scoreless game for the Preds that season wearing #42, spending the rest of his time in Milwaukee. When he came back up for short stints the next two seasons, he wore #36.
Hutchinson was the Preds' 2nd round draft choice in 1999, a defenseman who overcame the disadvantage of attending Michigan State to make his way first with the Milwaukee Admirals before playing 18 games for Nashville in 2003-4, scoring four goals and adding four assists. He went back to Milwaukee during the Great Lockout, and was eventually traded to Carolina for the draft pick which became Teemu Laakso.
While fans will remember Smitty as #25, he actually played his first 14 games for Nashville as #42, scoring one goal and assisting on another. That goal was one to remember, however, being Smithsons' first ever in the NHL, and a game-winner, too.
This Finnish blueliner was a 9th-round pick by the Preds in 2001 who didn't come over to North America until the 2006-7 season, which he spent mostly in Milwaukee. He did play 15 games with Nashville, however, scoring one goal and assisting on a pair of others. In February 2007 he was traded to Buffalo for the draft pick which was used to select Mark Santorelli.
"Captain Hair" was a speed demon of a winger who signed as a free agent in the summer of 2007, spending almost all of 2007-8 with Milwaukee before getting a chance at the NHL level with 53 games in 2008-9. Despite top-level skating, a zeal to hit anything in enemy colors and possessions stats that were far & away the best on the Predators, Pihlstrom only manaaged to score two goals on 88 shots, which along with his diminuitive stature made him easy to write off as not NHL-caliber.
Ekholm's NHL career is still in its infancy, with just three games under his belt so far. His debut in October 2011 was notable, however, for the tirade which Barry Trotz went into during his post-game press conference (later attributed in part to the pain of dealing with kidney stones). This fall, it's expected that Ekholm will become a more regular presence at the NHL level. I, for one, am a big believer in his potential.
So which of these #42's gets your support as the greatest in Nashville Predators history? Let the debate commence...
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