In the summer of 1971 construction workers at a site near 4th Avenue and Union in downtown Nashville unearthed an extraordinary find. During excavation, they discovered a small crevice in the rock nearly 30 feet deep. Even more astounding was the treasure tucked in that space—a nine-inch fang belonging to a saber tooth cat (officially known as a Smilodon floridanus)!
On September 25, 1997, the discovery of these ancient bones became the inspiration for the new Nashville Predators NHL team. An entire culture of chants, music, “fang fingers,” and Gnash the mascot evolved from that extinct treasure. But…what if there were no saber tooth cat unearthed in 1971? Who might the Nashville “Predators” be?
What If...the famous blood-engorged mosquito fossil were discovered instead?
Name: Nashville Skeeters, Nashville Drill Bugs, Nashville No-See-Ums
Team colors: Red and white
Mascot: Mosquito with blood dripping off its proboscis (yes, I had to Google that).
Goal Song: “If You Want Blood, You Got It” by AC/DC
Upside: Not only are mosquitoes perhaps the most pesky creatures, they are also technically the world’s deadliest animal. The life-threatening diseases that mosquitoes transmit kill more people than tigers, crocodiles, or sharks. The mosquito motif also easily incorporates the famous sports anthem “Another One Bites the Dust.” Mosquitoes can drink three times their body weight in blood, and that is just badass.
Downside: If the NHL wanted to split hairs, technically the mosquitoes that bite are female. Mosquitoes also have very short life spans. While some species can live for up to six months (still not long enough for a season to end in a real Stanley Cup run), the life cycle of other species is a mere two to three weeks (not even long enough to recover from a Corey Perry cheap shot).
What if…the Nashville hockey team were named after the AT&T “Bat Building”?
Name: Nashville Gothams, Nashville Waynes
Team Logo: The Nashville Skyline
Team Colors: Tortured black and floodlight yellow
Upside: Batman is a superhero who relies on his own internal motivation and brilliance to outsmart his enemies. He doesn’t need any radioactive spiders to take care of business. The team could skate out of a dark cave onto the ice with Hans Zimmer’s dramatic “Batman: The Dark Knight” theme playing. AT&T’s newest advertising campaign “Just OK Is Not OK” makes a fantastic chant for opposing goalies. Penalties are more entertaining when announced, “Holy high sticking, Batman!” or “Holy too many men on the ice, Batman!”
Downside: While Batman is an inspiring superhero, his level of angst and personal turmoil don’t vibe well with Pekka Rinne’s humility or Viktor Arvidsson’s boyish pluck.
What if…the Nashville NHL Team were named after a favorite Nashville food?
Name: Nashville Hot Chickens, Nashville Dixie Chickens
Team Colors: Red and yellow with a splash of dill pickle green
Team Logo: The Rolling Stones tongue (with flames added)
Rally Songs: Heat Wave (Martha and the Vandellas), The Heat Is On (Glenn Frey), Dixie Chicken (Garth Brooks)
Penalty Gesture: Pouring an invisible bottle of hot sauce.
Penalty Chant: “You play like poop! Go sit in the coop!”
Upside: Contrary to what mocking children may say, chickens are actually very intelligent and fierce. Scientists believe they are the evolved descendants of the ferocious T Rex, which is basically like being named after a saber tooth cat. Hot chicken is so popular that Colonel Sanders is making it nationwide.
Downside: Anything that has to do with the word “hot” reminds me that the Predators spent way too much time this season believing the slot was lava.
While it is fun to think about the possibilities, Nashville has built an incredible culture around being the “Predators”. Fang fingers, post-goal cat snarls, chants, and the logo create a hockey vibe to be envied across the league. In this case, reality is better than the alternatives.