NHL commissioner Gary Bettman visited the Music City on Monday to speak at the Nashville Leadership Luncheon held at Bridgestone Arena.
He was also in attendance for the Predators 3-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. During the second intermission, Bettman spoke with Mark Howard and Terry Crisp about a slew of topics including: the growing Predators fanbase, the possibility of the Predators hosting an outdoor game, and the P.K. Subban for Shea Weber trade.
“What’s really great is you see the rink we opened up outside, you see the enthusiasm of the crowd, there’s a great fan base here, and it’s fun to be at a game,” Bettman said. “It’s everything we knew and we hoped Nashville would be.”
Nashville is one of seven teams yet to play in an outdoor game. The other teams include: Florida, Dallas, Columbus, Arizona, Tampa Bay, and Carolina.
After hosting the All-Star Game last year, which earned rave reviews from players, fans, and the national media, one has to think Nashville proved it can handle hosting a prized NHL event and is one step closer to landing that ever-so-elusive outdoor game.
“We actually talked about that a little bit today,” Bettman said. “That’s something that takes a lot of planning. There’s a long list of places that want it, but if the temperature stays like this on a consistent basis, we might have to consider it. It’s something that we certainly wouldn’t rule out, and if its something that the Predators are interested in doing we’ll be talking about it.”
Monday afternoon, the Predators held the grand opening of the Smashville Outdoor Rink, located at the Walk of Fame Park across from Bridgestone Arena. The rink began last year as part of the 2016 NHL All-Star Weekend.
In fact, it was so popular that the Predators brought it back for a second go-around. As it turns out, Bettman is just as big a fan of the rink as the people of Nashville are.
“I think its sensational,” Bettman said. “It was a great part of the winter park during all star weekend and skating outside, playing hockey outside, takes the game back to its roots. It captures the imagination and I think it’s a great part of downtown Nashville.”
The outdoor rink wasn’t the only thing that caught Bettman’s attention on Monday. The newest member of the Predators, P.K. Subban, put on a show for the NHL commissioner, scoring his fourth and fifth goals of the season in the 3-1 victory over the Lightning.
“It’s always fascinating to see how trades work out,” Bettman said. “This is one of those trades that I think actually made both teams stronger. Its clear P.K. is already a fan favorite here. If he keeps having nights like tonight the sky is the limit.”