No, really... who would you put on your Predators Mount Rushmore?
That question has come up multiple times in our little On The Forecheck community, and each time it does, the answers seem to change.
On one hand, that can be chalked up to having a team that’s only been in the league 21 years. The Predators don’t have the lost list of Hall of Fame players in their alumni rolodex that other teams around the league have. But one could argue that makes this debate all the more fascinating. There are so many people that COULD be considered one of Nashville’s four most impactful in team history.
So we did what any good group of hockey-starved hockey writers would do...we’re taking our debate public.
We asked some of our OTF contributors to give us the four people they’d put on the Predators’ Mount Rushmore. One pick was consensus (I’m going to assume you already know which one). The other picks, however, were all over the board, from all different eras of Predators hockey.
Tucker’s Mount Rushmore:
Pekka Rinne, Shea Weber, David Legwand, David Poile
I actually found this to be quite easy. Rinne and Weber were absolute no-brainers to me, as they were the cornerstones of the franchise for so long. Rinne will go down as the most beloved Predator of all time, and Weber, at the height of his powers, was probably the best player to ever don a Predators sweater (although Josi will certainly take a run at this over the next couple of years).
I debated putting Barry Trotz over Poile, but Poile has been here since the beginning and, for better or worse, his fingerprints are all over the franchise. Successful expansion in the NHL isn’t an easy feat (ahem...Thrashers), but Poile’s steady hand has guided this franchise from a lowly expansion team to a perennial playoff threat. Putting a consistently competitive product on the ice has always been the primary objective for Poile, and that’s why the franchise has seen the success it has over the past six or seven years.
Shockingly, “Original Predator” David Legwand was the last one to make the cut for me. There’s a few guys I could’ve slotted into this last spot (Fisher, Erat, Timonen, to name a few), but ultimately I figured the first Predators draft pick who spent 14 years with the organization (and played 956 games here) deserved the nod. I also decided to stay away from other current players outside of Rinne and Weber. Potential lifers like Roman Josi and Filip Forsberg (I seriously don’t see us letting Fil go anywhere unless he decides to force a move down the road) will definitely be in this conversation in the future, but for now it felt a bit premature.
Laura’s Mount Rushmore:
Pekka Rinne, Shea Weber, David Legwand, David Poile
Not only do I agree with all of Tucker’s choices—I used pretty much the same thought process to get there. So...enough said, I guess!
Eric’s Mount Rushmore:
Pekka Rinne, Paul Kariya, Martin Erat, Roman Josi
For the sake of being original, I left out Shea Weber, Poile, Legwand and Trotz, but there are other good reasons, too.
Rinne is obvious. He’ll be the first number this franchise retires, there should be a statue of him on the corner of Broadway, and I would make the argument he’s a legitimate Hall of Fame candidate—Stanley Cup or not. To be the winning-est goalie from a major NHL talent-producing country in league history is a massive feat.
I think Kariya is also simple. He was the team’s first prized free agent acquisition and ushered in an entirely new era of Predators hockey that was dominated by, at the very least, consistent playoff appearances. He still holds the franchise record for most assists and points in a single season nearly 15 years later and is the organization’s first true Hall of Fame entrant (Peter Forsberg doesn’t count).
I chose Martin Erat over David Legwand for two reasons. I think both were equally important to this franchise, but in an era when this team was starving for star offensive talent, Erat always felt like the closest thing to a game-breaker (not that he really was). His 0.67 points per game in Nashville are better than Legwand’s 0.59, and, most importantly, this contemporary era of Nashville history wouldn’t be possible without the Filip Forsberg trade.
I picked Josi over Weber or Timonen for three reasons. First, I think you can argue Josi is more critical to the team now than Weber ever was. Two, it was Josi’s rapid emergence that assuaged the wounds and concerns of this fan base when it was heartbroken over Ryan Suter. I remember feeling devastated when Suter left for the Wild and now, I’d have him do the same thing ten times over if I could. Finally, when all is said and done, Josi will undoubtedly be the franchise leader in points and assists (and maybe goals) of all time; he’s just 95 points and 22 assists shy of Weber.
Nick’s Mount Rushmore:
Pekka Rinne, Shea Weber, Paul Kariya, Roman Josi
One name is going to be on everyone’s top four. For everyone else, you can make a valid argument both for and against.
We’ll start with the obvious one: Pekka Rinne. Not only has been the proverbial face of the franchise for well over a decade, he’s arguably been the team’s most pivotal player during the best stretch in franchise history. Regardless of the rest of the roster, the Preds’ success or failure has most often hinged on how Pekka’s played. And for the vast majority of the past 11 seasons...well...peep the standings. Rinne will be the first Predator to have his number retired, and rightfully so.
I think you have to add Shea Weber up there as well. In terms of individual accolades, no Pred has a better resume: five consecutive all-star games, three-time Norris finalist, the first—and so far ONLY—Predator to be named a First Team All-Star in the awards at the end of the season. Sure, there’s an argument to be made that Weber’s best years were partially aided by having equally-elite defense partners (first Suter, then Josi). But I don’t think that should diminish the fact that for most of his time in Nashville, he was probably one of the five best all-around defenders in the NHL. Add in the fact that he’s still universally loved in Smashville, and this seems like a safe bet.
The last two spots were so hard to fill, and full disclosure, I’ve changed my answers five or six times since I started writing this. And as much as I tried to convince myself “you can’t be on a team’s Mount Rushmore if you’ve only been on the team two years,” I just couldn’t leave Paul Kariya off of here. I know his stint was brief, but I just couldn’t think of any Pred, past or present, who more dramatically shaped the direction of the franchise just by stepping onto the ice.
And it’s not just the fact that he was the first “big name” to choose Nashville as a playing destination...it’s the fact that his presence, and his “buying in” to Barry Trotz’s vision, brought the best out of the rest of the team, and took the Preds from a scrappy team on the rise into one of the best teams in the NHL. Plus, his only two seasons remain arguably the two best individual seasons by any forward in team history, and he still owns the record for points (86) and assists (54) in a season.
There’s so many players you could put in that last spot—Tomas Vokoun, Kimmo Timonen, David Legwand, Mike Fisher... But at the end of the day, I settled on Josi. If this was five months ago, my answer probably would have been different. This season, which may end with Josi winning a Norris Trophy, certainly cements his spot. I think playing first alongside Shea Weber, and later with P.K. Subban, overshadowed just how much of a reliable defender he’s been every single year since joining the team in 2012. While he’s certainly been fortunate to play alongside some equally amazing defensive partners, the argument can be made that Josi’s play has elevated the likes of Weber and Ryan Ellis. He’ll also have eight more years (and 90 million more dollars) to cement his spot as the best all-around defender in team history.
Rachel’s Mount Rushmore:
Pekka Rinne, David Legwand, Shea Weber, David Poile
Pekka Rinne’s presence on the “Preds Rushmore” is a given. As the winningest goalie in franchise history, he has nearly every Preds goaltending record in his name. #35’s should be the first jersey retired in Bridgestone Arena. There should be no question here.
David Legwand was Nashville’s first-ever draft pick. While he didn’t retire a Predator, #11 played in Nashville for 14 years and skated in over 900 contests. He was part of the building process as well as part of the winning process. Legwand was a present leader on the teams that began to turn the tide for Nashville after the ownership scare.
Back in March, it became a possibility that Shea Weber COULD play in his 1,000th NHL contest at Bridgestone Arena...although he’d be wearing a Montreal sweater. Many fans in Nashville are still quite in love with #6. He, like Legwand, was a home-grown talent, raised in Milwaukee and seasoned in a Preds sweater. He was part of the early success of the organization and finally wore the “C” for a Preds squad that finally began to look like a Cup-winning team. Many of us were heartbroken in July 2016 when Weber was traded. Many of us still hope for a situation in which Weber could retire a Predator. He is definitely a worthy addition to the Preds’ Mount Rushmore.
There’s not enough space here to write about David Poile. As the only GM in franchise history, Poile has built a program from the ground up. He’s the winningest GM in the NHL, too. I look forward to the day when Poile gets to celebrate with the champagne-soaked Preds as they celebrate their first-ever Stanley Cup.
Sarah’s Mount Rushmore:
Pekka Rinne, David Legwand, Shea Weber, David Poile
Pekka Rinne: Let’s begin with the most obvious pick. Pekka Rinne is not only the heart and soul of the Nashville Predators, but also their rock. Rinne is arguably the team’s most consistent player of all time. He holds a hoard of team records including shutouts (51) and wins (311). Rinne played his butt-pads off during the Preds’ 2017 cup run and deserves to have his name engraved on the Stanley Cup more than almost anyone in the NHL who has yet to win. You can’t imagine the Predators without Rinne. His place on their Mount Rushmore needs no explanation, but you got one anyway.
Shea Weber: Another seemingly obvious pick. He wasn’t the Predators first captain, but he was their longest captain. Nick said it best above—there is no Predator with better accolades all around through team records, NHL recognition (awards and All-Star selection), and leadership role. Due to a strange series of circumstances, the Predators had to part ways with their extremely popular captain, a move that still haunts many to this day, but it doesn’t tarnish his memory in their heads.
David Legwand: I’m extremely pleased to be in agreement with my colleagues with this pick. I feel that Legwand doesn’t get near the amount of respect in Predators history he deserves. He hasn’t played for the Predators since March 2014, but he still holds the most team records in franchise history. Just read them: Goals (210), Assists (356), Points (566), Games Played (956), and Game-Winning Goals (41). At the end of the day, hockey is a business and it doesn’t owe anyone anything, but I can’t help but feel that the Predators cheated Legwand out of retiring as a Pred. He was their first-ever draft pick and had played at least one game in every single season since the team’s first season. Rinne will be the first Predator to have his jersey retired, but Legwand should have his retired too. I said it.
David Poile: I had very conflicting feelings about this pick. Again, I’m brought comfort by the fact that I’m in excellent company with this pick, but it wasn’t an easy choice. In my opinion, GMDP has made some questionable calls—trades of high-profile players, signings of others, coaching hires, firings of assistant coaches when the team is in hot water. However, I can play armchair GM all I’d like, but I’ll never know the pressure behind making those decisions—for 22 years.
That’s right, David Poile has been the Predators’ General Manager for 22 years; the first and only. Put some respect on his name. When you’re the head honcho for that long, it’s about peaks and valleys, and Poile has kept this team afloat and brought them to an elite level in recent years. Regardless of anyone’s thoughts on where the team stands currently, his tenure as GM deserves a spot carved out in history.
Alright, Preds fans, it’s now your turn to weigh in. Give us your Mount Rushmore in the comments.