Welcome to Smashville! What an interesting town and what a unique place for hockey. As a devout hockey fan, I’ve always tried to keep up with all levels of action, from the NHL down to the lower pro leagues. As a result, I frequently wondered what hockey was like around teams like the Baton Rouge Kingfish, Mobile Mysticks or Tallahassee Tigersharks.
Admittedly, those teams were in a lower league and smaller cities, but during my visit to Bridgestone Arena, I couldn’t help but think of some of my former co-workers who have played or coached hockey in some of the more remote southern locations. It always amazed me that down there they were playing the same sport I knew and loved. The rules are the same, the ice is more or less the same and the names and penalties are all the same, just pronounced a bit differently.
Last night, I had the pleasure of sitting with a family whose accents sounded like they might have been in the movie Slingblade but who totally understood the ins and outs of hockey. It took me the entire first period to actually get a grasp on what I considered a total culture clash. I wish I had a recording or could write out a few quotes phonetically without seeming culturally insensitive. I mean nothing by it. I am just continually amazed by the vast cultural differences across America.
Around the sport, hockey terms and expressions tend to take on a sort of Canadian tone or accent, even with Americans. It’s the language of hockey, and that’s why it took me a minute last night to familiarize myself with the language of hockey in that thick southern accent.
Have you ever travelled far enough from home that even standing in line or crossing the street seems completely foreign to you? Then randomly, you stumble on someone who went to your high school or shares your same hobbies. It’s usually pretty surprising when you find that common ground. That’s how I felt after hearing hockey like that.
Speaking of common ground, I had the chance to meet with a couple of Predators bloggers who hope that someday soon, their time will be right to visit every NHL arena. Ryan from RLDhockey.net and Buddy from PredsOnTheGlass.com were nice enough to explain to me, among other things, why Preds fans blow train whistles. Apparently, and forgive me if you already knew this and I’m just late to the party, but they blow the whistles when Nashville agitator Jordan Tootoo comes onto the ice. It’s a sort of warning to the visiting team. Here comes the pain train (or something like that).
Odd and ends:
- Seems a bit odd to mention this so low in the article, but Bridgestone Arena is one of the more visually stunning sports venues I’ve ever seen. Coupled with such a great location near downtown and all the music and nightlife along Broadway, giving the ‘exterior’ a 6.0 rating was a no-brainer.
- Titans head coach Jeff Fisher was at the game and milling around the concourse afterwards. As much as this town might like hockey, Fisher and the Titans are clearly still top dog.
- Don’t take a cab in Nashville. Two ridiculously terrifying rides in less than 24 hours along with a warning from a man who used to handle taxi cab insurance. I’ve gotten the message, thanks everyone.
- Another blind man at the game in Nashville. Didn’t happen to catch where he was seated.