Our Nashville Predators jersey number series moves on to one of the more hallowed digits in hockey history. In cities around the NHL, the #9 hangs from the rafters honoring the likes of Gordie Howe & Rocket Richard. While no Preds have lived up to those lofty standards quite yet, there have been a few memorable players suiting up with that number...
Darren Turcotte (1998-1999)
Picked up in trade from St. Louis prior to the Preds' inaugural season, Turcotte had at one time been a productive offensive center, but his best days were well behind him by the time he made it to Nashville. He played just 40 games that season, with 4 goals and 5 assists, along with 9 more in 1999-2000 before a knee injury ended his career.
Greg Classen (2000-2003)
A center who spent his entire NHL career (portions of three seasons) with Nashville, Classen played 90 games from 2000-2001 to 2002-2003, totaling 7 goals and 10 assists. After spending the season lost to the Great Lockout in Finland, he came back for one more year in the Preds' organization, but spent all of 2005-2006 with the Milwaukee Admirals.
Sergei Zholtok (2004)
Acquired by Nashville at the 2004 Trade Deadline from Minnesota, Zholtok played 11 games down the stretch as the Predators secured their first-ever playoff berth. He scored one goal in that six-game series loss to Detroit, before leaving that summer to go play in Europe.
Tragically, Zholtok collapsed and died a few months later, on November 3, 2004, at just 31 years of age.
Paul Kariya (2005-2007)
Kariya's signing as a free agent in 2005 caused critics around the NHL to sit up and pay attention to the Predators as a team to contend with. He hoped for a fresh start after a disastrous 2003-2004 campaign with Colorado, and responded with two of his finer seasons leading the way for Nashville. Across 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 Kariya never missed a game, and set marks for assists and total points which still stand as #1 and #2 in franchise history. He maintained that level of performance in the playoffs, as well, with two goals and seven assists in 9 post-season games for Nashville.
When Craig Leipold sold the team in the spring of 2007, however, Kariya wanted no part of the franchise instability, and he left the Preds as a free agent. He played three seasons for St. Louis before retiring due to lingering post-concussion symptoms.
Marcel Goc (2009-2011)
Idolized by the bowtie-wearing crowd, Goc came to Nashville as a guy who couldn't earn his way above a 4th-line role in San Jose. With the Predators, he did get more of a chance to display his talents, and set career highs in 2009-2010 with 12 goals and 18 assists. The question with Goc was always one of upside, however. His numbers would lead one to think that perhaps he had Top 6 potential, but that never quite seemed to pan out.
In the 2010-2011 season, when injuries wracked the depth chart at center, Goc's production dropped off the charts without David Legwand in the lineup ahead of him, and his campaign was cut short by a shoulder injury. Goc left as a free agent last summer for a lucrative contract with the Florida Panthers.