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Thursday's notes: Why you should give the ref a standing ovation tonight

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Today's forecast does include scattered thunderstorms, so I guess it is appropriate to have the Lightning in town to play the Predators this evening. While you ponder the meteorological coincidences of this matchup, dive into your hockey notes this morning, which lead off with an inspirational tale by a member of that often overlooked, yet critical portion of the hockey business, the referees...

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Nashville Predators News

NHL referee Mike Hasenfratz completes long journey back from heart surgery - Nashville Predators Examiner
All too often we ignore the tireless work of the on-ice officials who make the game go, and here, Jim Diamond shares an extraordinary story of one referee's long road back to hockey. Seriously, this guy deserves a Standing O from the crowd tonight just as much as any player.

A day later, Francis Bouillon feels good about first game in nine months - Nashville Predators Examiner
An important update, that The Cube came through his first game back without ill effects.

Four alumni make NHL Central Scouting watch list - Elite Edge
The Elite Edge Hockey Showcase, which is directed by Preds hockey operations manager Brandon Walker, provides teenage players from the Southeast an opportunity to work with coaches from the NCAA and Canadian junior hockey each summer, and 4 members of this year's camp have drawn special attention heading into the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.

The View from 111: The Ekholm Diaries: The Return Home
The blogs are done, but we here the Swedish perspective on Mattias Ekholm's return to the SEL.

Twitter recaps the Preds and Sharks… | Section 303
A selection of tweets from Tuesday night's game, as compiled by Jeremy.

Hockey Night in Nashville: Suter family hockey legacy continues to grow
Garrett Suter is trying to work his way up the professional hockey ranks, starting this season in Cincinnati of the ECHL.

Admirals Return to the Midwest for First 3-in-3 | Admirals Roundtable
It will be a busy weekend for the Admirals, with a game at Chicago tomorrow, followed by Saturday & Sunday games at home.

Trace Adkins and family to be honored at T.J. Martell’s ‘Family Day’ - The Tennessean
Barry Trotz and Trace Adkins together... but no, they're not singing a duet. At least I don't think so.

If Nashville Predators' defense falters, Tampa Bay Lightning will strike - The Tennessean
For a team getting outshot consistently, names like Stamkos, St. Louis and Lecavalier don't make things any easier. Also, Trotz admits that Patric Hornqvist's foot injury is playing a role in his lackluster performance thus far.

Predators' penchant for blocked shots creates pain, respect | Nashville City Paper
Guys like Kevin Klein and Jerred Smithson take a beating out there, especially since the Preds have spent so much extra time in their own zone so far.

Around the Wide Wide World of Hockey

Brent Burns gives San Jose a gamebreaker on the backend - Fear The Fin
So far, so good for the Sharks' big summer acquisition.

After Epic Trip, New York Rangers Ready for First Home Game -
The Rangers have been on the road all this time while upgrades and renovations were completed at Madison Square Garden.

Lester Patrick Award ceremony celebrates the family of hockey -
Four greats were honored for their lifetime contributions to the development of the sport in this country.

Battle Of Ontario: The comparison game. I'll start:
A telling shot in the Toronto-Ottawa rivalry.

Canucks will look to Luongo for answer - Vancouver Sun
Heaping abuse on elite goaltenders - is it a Canadian pastime?

Game 9 Recap: Habs Break The Slump With 5-1 Win Over Flyers - Habs Eyes On The Prize
The Canadiens gave the home fans something to cheer about by thumping the Flyers, after firing assistant coach Perry Pearn just 90 minutes before game time.

Super-charge your game with the Easton Stealth RS | Hockey Gear HQ
Easton's latest one-piece composite hockey stick is a goal-scoring machine that combines puck control, pass/shot accuracy, and responsive, durable performance.