Fifty years of hockey in Nashville?  Really?

Well, that is what I thought when I first heard the Dixie Flyers dropped the puck on their inaugural season in 1962. How could a historian resist that – especially when she has a research paper due in December.

This fall I am entering into the final semesters of my master’s program in history at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. As a break from my thesis research, I have chosen a new topic to write about: the history of hockey in Nashville. In addition to some general history about the different leagues – NHL, ECHL, EHL – my paper will cover Nashville hockey from the Dixie Flyers and the South Stars to the Knights and finally the Predators. One of the reasons I joined this blog is that I though it would be great way to get feedback from Nashville hockey fans. I hope to also glean some insight on what it means to be a hockey fan in Nashville and, with any luck, a few leads on source materials.

Although I am not new to hockey, I am definitely new to being a Predators fan. I am actually a life-long Chicago Blackhawks fan. (Don’t hate me.) I am a Chicago native transplanted to the south as a teenager. I come by my hockey fanaticism honestly: my grandfathers were both huge hockey fans, one even played adult neighborhood league hockey in the 1950s. I simply love hockey – I go to the Alabama Frozen Tide club team games; I have driven over to Atlanta for Thrashers and Knights games and up to Huntsville for Havoc games; and I used to go to the Birmingham Bulls (ECHL) and the short-lived Alabama Slammers games as often as I could.

A good friend of mine has been a Predators fan since the beginning. Because of him, I have been keeping an eye on the Predators for the past season. Luckily, Fox Sports South Nashville is available on my satellite and I was able to watch a good number of games. I went to my first Predators game on a student night. (This spring I also went to a Thrashers game – Phillips Arena has NOTHING on Bridgestone.) The atmosphere is amazing.

At this point, I completely fell in love with the team and the barn. So much so, I bought tickets the day after the team clinched their spot in the playoffs. As it turned out, my two favorite teams ended up playing each other. Honestly, I was probably the happiest fan in the building regardless of the outcome. It was very strange to be in Bridgestone and NOT be rooting for the Predators. However, part of me was still excited that the Preds won Game 3. Two days later I drove up for Game 4, so I got the best of both worlds that week. And now, I am a season ticket holder (well, the 10 game plan since I live three hours away).

So, do any of you have memories of seeing the Dixie Flyers, South Stars, or Knights before the Predators came to town?

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