Monday, July 25, 2011

Teachable Moments: Nashville's G.O.A.L. Kids Get a Taste of Life on the Ice

As remaining members Brood 17 threw themselves against windshields, buildings and screaming bugophobes and the temperatures began to creep towards the triple-digit mark, an intrepid  group of children and parents braved the heat and cicadas to get a taste of what it must be like to be Shea Weber (or Shea Weber's Dad.)

For some this would be the start of a brilliant career on blades. For others, it's a chance to get chilly and silly while wearing some fun armour. Regardless of the objective, a good time was had by all as the Nashville Predators Organization showed a group of young Middle Tennesseans that hockey really is the coolest sport on earth.

Week One

For children who have been trying on their gear and striking poses for Gramma, it all gets very real. Scattered about the causeways of Centennial Sportsplex, parents and participants wrestle on the pads and shorts and then take those tentative first steps on blades. As the mentors set up the padded dividers and cones, the children begin to gather at the entrances.

Anticipation runs high as the collection of tiny wanna-be grinders waits for the moment when they'll be given the all-clear to skate where the Big Boys will be skating in a couple of months in preparation for the upcoming season. When the signal is given, each kid seems to take that first step to the ice with the mindset that they are Shea Weber and Ryan Suter. The moment they leave the dry floor for the rink, they are reminded of gravity and couple of the more stringent laws of the physical world. Unseen Newtonian enforcers send most of them in a pile of cuteness not far from the door. The coaches wait and watch nearby so they can take the opportunity to use those initial teachable moments. They swoop in and gently set kids upright to try and try again.

Once the shock of how slippery ice can be wears off, there is the realisation that ice is also delightfully cold. This is especially nice given how freakishly hot June has turned out to be. More than one child will, over the course of the month, take the opportunity to just lie down and luxuriate in a sense of cool that would make Miles Davis a little jealous.

Week Two:

Most of the participants have gome from a state of bliss at simply staying vertical to really getting a sense of movement on the ice. Given the age range (four to seven years), a wide array of proficiency is to be expected. However, there are no foregone conclusions in that respect. Age, as they say, is just a number, and some tinies slip around their older classmates with the ease of a Cooper Mini moving around green and yellow rolling behemoths bearing the John Deere trademark.

It is at this point that the G.O.A.L. experience gets a little more individualised. Some children are already getting the idea that they like this. A lot. It feels like home and they wouldn't be anywhere else. They focus on the lessons of skating and stick-handling and the elegant philosophy of playing the game. For others, this a lark. They see it as a chance to play in a new environment. Interludes of teaching are sandwiched between visiting at the padded barriers and hitching a ride on the blade of a passing coach.

Either way, an important need is being met. These kids are moving and they're having a blast while they're doing it.

Can't get enough of the thrills, the spills and all that cuteness on ice? There are two more weeks of pictures coming up. In the meantime, check out the back story at Confessions of a Cheese Grits Fiend.

Note to those of you who visited the site earlier and saw black boxes where the pictures should have been: I ended up having to use YouTube. It does grey out and fuzz up the pics somewhat. I apologise for that and share your frustration.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Guest Commentary: Arnott and Tootoo (the hamsters) Explain the NHL Awards

A refresher: Arnott and Tootoo are the hockey-obssessed female hamsters who live with my friend, Beautiful Alice's son.  We are not sure if they're aware they are female, or for that manner, if they understand that they are hamsters. 

Tootoo:  Hello and welcome to our annual pre-awards show.  I'm Tootoo and this is my associate, Arnott.

Arnott:  Hi!

Tootoo:  Today we're going to explain the awards and then we'll give you our predictions.  AND, we have some special surprise guests! 

Arnott: Elvis is in the building!  Hahahahahahahaha!

Tootoo:  You're a funny one today, Arny! But seriously let's get the ball rolling here.  First up, We have the Hart Trophy...

Arnott:  I know!  I know!  It's the award for the best resting heart rate!

Tootoo: Actually it's...

Arnott:  Prettiest home-made valentine for your mom?

Tootoo: Nooo.  It's...

Arnott: Best hairline!

Tootoo baps Arnott down a nearby habitrail tube and continues.
Tootoo:  The Hart trophy is the leagues recognition of the overal MVP for the regular season.  This year's nominees include:

Arnott: (poking his head out of the tube) Alexander Ovechkin!

Tootoo:  Not this year.

Arnott:  Get out!  No Ovechkin? 

Tootoo:  Nope.

Arnott:  Sidney Crosby?

Tootoo:   Nope.

Arnott:   Are they even giving away the Hart this year?

Tootoo:   Yeeeees, they are awarding the Hart this year.  Here are the nominees:  Corey Perry from the Anaheim Ducks, Daniel Sedin of the Vancouver Canucks

Arnott: Is there another team that ends in -uck?

Tootoo:  Shh! And Martin St.Louis of the Tampa Bay Lightning. My prediction?  Corey Perry may have the numbers in his favor, but the judges might very well be hypnotized by Sedin's forehead.  Let's face it, Vancouver's coach has learned how to harness the power of the Sedins' foreheads.  That's why they win so much. 

Arnott:  Martin St.Louis is funnier.

Tootoo:   I agree.  Heck, I'd pay to see a buddy movie starring St.Louis, Marc Savard and Wade Belak. 

Arnott:  That would be awesome!

Tootoo:   Next up, the Vezina.

<b>Arnott:</b>  I can't figure out what that one's about.  The nominees are a vampire, Drew Carey and Pekka Rinne.  They just don't go together. 

Tootoo:  It's the award for best goalie.  A vampire?

Arnott:  Dude.  Look at the picture of the goalie from Vancouver.  He looks like Count Chocula.

Tootoo:   That's Roberto Luongo, not Count Chocula.

Arnott:  But I LIKE Count Chocula!

Tootoo:  (sighs) Anyway, the nominees are: Roberto Luongo of the Vancouver Canucks, Tim Thomas of the Boston Bruins and our own Pekka Rinne from the Nashville Predators.  Our pick for the winner...

Arnott: Luuuuuuuuuuuuuu!

Tootoo: You picked him because you think he looks like Count Chocula.

Arnott: Nooo…

Tootoo:  Arny…

Arnott:  That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it!

Tootoo:  Actually, I think that, based on numbers, the more likely winner could be either Rinne or Thomas.  I give Thomas the edge because he had a stand-out season.  Rinne?  He’s rarely if ever less than spectacular on the ice, but his injury early in the season derailed him for a bit. 

Now, let’s take a look at the Calder.  The Calder is awarded to the outstanding rookie.    Logan Couture from the San Jose Sharks, Michael Grabner from the New York Islanders and Jeff Skinner from the Carolina Hurricanes.  Once again, it’s numbers versus personality and on-ice fireworks.  Couture brings it in a big-shouldered, old school NHL way, but Skinner is the lost Glimmer Twin on the ice.

Arnott:  Are you picking the Calder based on fabulousness?

Tootoo:   Not really.

Arnott:  Really…  Whatever.  Next award.

Tootoo:   Next Award would be the Selke.  This award goes to the forward who is the best at defense.  And the nominees are:  Pavel Datsyuk of the Detroit Red Wings, Ryan Kessler of the Vancouver Canucks and Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Backhawks.  Who do you like for this one?

Arnott:  You’re asking me?  Really?

Tootoo:  Yes.

Arnott:  Ryan Kessler.

Tootoo:   …and why?

Arnott: Comes down to the numbers!  And…

Tootoo:   And?

Arnott: Datsyuk looks like a Sedin and Toews has a scary stare. 

Tootoo:  (eyes Arnott for a moment, sighs and continues) This brings us to the Jack Adams Trophy, which is awarded to the coach that has contributed the most to his team’s success.  The finalists are:  Dan Bylsma of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Barry Trotz of the Nashville Predators and Alain Vigneault of the Vancouver Canucks. 


Arnott: Nope.  You’ve got this one.  I’m just gonna listen.

Tootoo:  You sure?

Arnott:  I’m sure.

Tootoo:  All right, then.  All three are blessed with outstanding players, dedicated fan bases and supportive administrations and coaching staff.  However, we give the nod to Barry Trotz.  Of the three, the Predators culture most closely reflects the values and characters of their coach.  He sets the tone for everything that happens on the ice and in the locker room. Tippett was the rightful winner last year given the challenges he faced while taking on the head coaching job for Phoenix, but this should be the year for Coach Trotz.


Arnott: Right there with ya, big guy.

Tootoo: We’re running long, so we’re going to speed through a few of these…

Arnott: In other words, who cares?

Tootoo:   Arny! (shakes her head) Here we go:

The Masterton is awarded to the player who shows dedication and perseverance.  This year’s noms include Ray Emery of Anaheim, Daymon Langkow of Calgary and Ian Laperrire of Philadelpia.  We like Emery for a number of reasons, not the least of which was his part in making sure the Ducks got into the playoffs. 

The Ted Lindsay Award is another MVP title.  This year’s finalists are: Corey Perry of Anaheim, Daniel Sedin of Vancouver and Steven Stamkos of Tampa Bay.    All of these guys are deserving of the award, but I honestly like Steven Stamkos.  He’s been undersung in some corners, but he’s an extraordinary, unselfish guy on the ice. I’d love to see him get it.

The NHL Foundation Award goes to the player who has demonstrated a commitment to making the world a better place by using his fame and talent to help others.

Arnott: I like this award!

Tootoo:  Me, too!  The nominees are: Mike Green of the Washington Capitals, Dustin Brown of the Los Angeles Kings and Henrik Sedin of the Vancouver Canucks.   All deserve the nod but Mike Green is someone who walks the talk when it comes to environmental issues. We’d like to see him on the dias this year.

The GM of the year award has some stellar candidates as well. Mike Gillis of the Vancouver Canucks, David Poile of the Nashville Predators and Steve Yzerman of the Tampa Bay Lightning  are all compelling choices.  As much as we’d love to see our boy Poile get the chance to make the winner’s walk; Yzerman’s rehab of the Tampa Bay Lightning makes him a shoo-in. 

The strictly by-the-numbers awards winners are:

For the William Jennings goalie trophy: Berto Luongo and Cory Schneider of Vancover.
The Art Ross Trophy for points scored after the end of the season goes to Henrik Sedin.
The Maurice “Rocket” Richard for regular season play goes to Corey Perry of Anaheim.

Arnott: Is that everything?

Tootoo:   There are three awards left.  But before we talk about those, let’s bring out our special guests.  Ladies and gentlemen, please give a warm welcome to His Holiness the Doggie Lama Niklas Lidstrom the Shih Tzu and Sheba Weber DeYorkie.

 (Niklas and Sheba enter)

Tootoo: How does it feel to be up for three NHL awards, Niklas?

Niklas: Rewards?  Did I do something good?

Sheba: Maybe you saw a squirrel!

Niklas: Squirrel!?!?!?!  Where?

Sheba: Squirrel!  Let’s go get it!

(Tootoo and Arnott watch as Lidstrom and Weber run off to chase a hypothetical squirrel.)

Arnott:  Um.

Tootoo:  Well.  Okay then.  The final awards for today.  There’s the Bridgestone Messier Award for leadership and character that goes beyond being a good player.  The nominees are Shane Doan of the Phoenix Coyotes, Zdeno Chara of the Boston Bruins and Nicklas Lidstrom of the Detroit Red Wings.  (Tootoo sighs)

Arnott: Lidstrom.

Tootoo:   Yeah.  He’s definitely the right choice for this.  Next there’s the Lady Byng for sportsmanlike conduct. All three nominees and that includes Loui Erikkson of  the Dallas Stars, Martin St.Louis from Tampa Bay and, uh, Niklas Lidstrom of the Red Wings all deserve to walk home with the trophy, but we like  St.Louis’ grace under pressure makes him our choice for this one.

And finally, there’s the Norris for best all-around Dee-Guy.  The nominees are Zdeno Chara, Nicklas Lidstrom and Shea Weber. This one’s a toughie. 

Arnott:  No it’s not.  Who didn’t run off to chase squirrels a minute ago? 

Tootoo:   Remember, you can’t factor in post-season. 

Arnott:  Dang.

Tootoo:  Plus, Zdeno is a biter.  It could go either way.  With Lidstrom, you have the veteran who has been recognized time and again versus the young gun, Weber, who is beginning to grow into his role as an upper echelon player.  Thing is, the NHL loves tradition and continuity. I think Lidstrom will walk away with the Norris this year.

Arnott:  That wrap it up?

Tootoo:  Indeed it does!

Arnott: Nice job hosting this year.

Tootoo:   Thanks, homes!

Arnott: You up for draft coverage?

Tootoo:  Depends.  I’ve got three seasons of Dr. Who waiting for me on Netflix.

Arnott: Suh-weet!  I’ll bring the popcorn!

copyright 2011 Jas Faulkner

Sunday, May 15, 2011

A Thousand Words - The NWRFC: Hard As Stone. Tough As Lions.

This is the first of a series of photo essays featuring sporting events around Tennessee. Sometimes words can put you right there, but nothing replaces the images that convey the passionate conviction players invest in being a part of the game.

Far from the crowds, the big contracts and the glitz and glamour, a group of young women gather for an afternoon competition.

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This is not your mama's day school field day (which was probably more brutal than you imagined). These women have chosen to play rugby, a tough, relentless game that takes more than a little heart and grit.

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The game was the season closer. It took place on April 30th at the NSCC south campus. Knoxville Women's Rugby Football Club, the visiting team, came to compete and eventually win a higher seed in the division championships.

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Who attends NWRFC games? Proud family members, fans, friends and SO's (who deserve their own special kudos for patience and tender ministrations after a hard day on the pitch).

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Who else should be there? How about you? Don't let your lack of rugby knowledge stop you from at least giving it a try. Rugby is exciting, it appeals to my artist's eye and it's tough! Still not convinced? Admission is free. So there you go. Give it a try and you'll discover a game that will have you standing and cheering for the ladies wearing your hometown colors!

For more information about the Nashville Womens Rugby Football Club, please vist their website: NWRFC

If you're in Knoxville, please visit the Knoxville club's home page: KWRFC

Want more pictures? Enjoy the slideshow:

Thank you...
First to Lindsay Wieczorek for being so gracious and patient as I finished covering the NHL playoff season.

To the amazing women of the Nashville and Knoxville rugby clubs, in 1300+ photos, it came down to what didn't get eaten by Picasa or was out of focus. There was no shortage of emotion or action on any given shot.

CJ Kiekens
Megan Gilbreth
Rainy Valerio
Kathleen O'Neill
Blue Williams
Carissa Cooper
Lindsay Wieczorek
Angie Denney
Jewelia Hartley
Christina Miller
Kellie Hurst
Molly Moore
Chelsea Baker
Jasmine Ma
Kerrie Knox
Billie Cutillo
Allette Vayda
Laura LaFlemme
Carrie Anderson

Coach: Christopher Smolnicky

Maegan Buchanan
Bonnie Hudson
Maggie Behringer
Cana Stevenson
Sam Yellen
Nancy Campbell
Joce Campbell
Katie Oliver
Tina Nguyen
Cindy Brown
Becky Mumper
Krissy Cooney
Amy Hamilton
Rachel Gilson
Susannah Crawford
Mary White
Chelsea Love

Coach: Sarah Deane

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Coming Soon...

I have some photo galleries of the Predators at practice!  Also coming up, coverage of The Nashville Storm and The Nashville Women's Rugby Club.

Don't miss it!


Sunday, April 3, 2011

Larry Finch (1951 - 2011)

The Commercial Appeal* has already gone to press with what is probably one of the more complete and balanced accounts of the life and career of Larry Finch.  If you aren't familiar with Coach Finch's career, please read what Memphis' paper of record has to say about him.

Forsaken and Reclaimed By The City He Loved

While it's fitting that the Commercial Appeal would be the first to report so thoroughly about Finch's life; it is also sadly ironic. Many reading the CA on Sunday morning might not be aware of a time when Larry Finch, the kid who came up from Orange Mound, was Bluff City's favorite son. The last decade and a half was not kind to Finch.  After a disappointing year that was marked by poor recruiting and a losing track record, the powers that be at the University of Memphis fired him at a concession area in The Pyramid following the last game of his final season in 1997.  Even though he would throw his hat in the ring for a number of coaching jobs in the years to follow, no one seemed ready to give him a chance.   In all fairness, this probably had as much to do with his health problems following a stroke in 2002 as it did his later track record as the Tigers' head coach.  In 2006, his financial situation was shaky enough to require charitable intervention in order for him to continue to receive rehabilitative care.

It would take the disgraceful 2009 departure of former head coach, John Calipari to cause the university and the city to put Finch's career and his restored status as Memphis' most winning coach in perspective.   Memphis saw what could happen when someone didn't have a bone-deep love for the team, the school and the city used, abused and discarded all of the above in the name of personal career expedience.  Larry Finch would have never done that.  Memphis was home.  The man who never forgot his old neighborhood or the city he loved knew he couldn't have borne the disappointment of the people who helped raise him and saw him through his upward career trajectory.

Youth, Ideals and Phenomenal Talent Unite A Hurting City
In the late sixties, Memphis was reeling from the national attention it had garnered after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King.  Race relations were always tenuous, but the loss of King at a time when his ability to broker peace and help to bring a new understanding to the troubled area was devastating.  In national discourse, "Memphis" became shorthand for everything that was wrong with Black and White America.  On the ground, people in Shelby County viewed each other with the suspicion.

It was in this environment that Finch, a young phenom from Melrose High School agreed to play for the MSU Tigers. There were so many compelling reasons for him to go somewhere else. Very few African-American men had worn the Tiger blue and grey at that time.  He could have easily gone to a school where he would have been more assured of being welcomed, to a place where Dr. King's dream was already starting to come true. Instead, he chose to bring the dream to Memphis State.

All of the world's problems can't be solved on a basketball court, but the amazing 1969-1970 season gave  Memphians a some respite from the issues that continued to divide the city.   When the Tigers hit the court, the questions of Black and White seemed to fade into the background. Everyone in attendance, watching at home or listening in became a Blue and Grey Tiger.   Finch ended his senior year at MSU on a high note, leading the team to the Final Four, only to be stopped by an equally amazing UCLA squad.

When his career as a player (in the NCAA and later the ABA) was done, it made sense for him to go into coaching. He spent four seasons as an assistant coach at the University of Alabama before coming back home to work as an assistant coach under the leadership of Dana Kirk in 1979.  When Kirk was removed from his position in 1986, Finch was asked to step up as head coach.  He was to coach the Tigers to 220 wins, six NCAA tournaments and in spite of the negative chatter that seemed to hound him in the final days of his tenure as head coach, ten out of eleven of his seasons could be considered successes.

Coach Finch Mattered Then And He Matters Now

When Finch took over the head coach position in 1986, there were many who expressed concerns that he was too nice, too easy going to lead the program at Memphis.  As he had come to MSU as a player in a time when the environment in Memphis was turbulent, he took on the difficult task of restoring order and discipline in a program that had been thrown into chaos as more and more bad news about the previous coach's shady financial dealings came to light.

The city had grown and progressed over the years since the sixties, but it was still light years behind the cultural climate that existed on the rectangle of land between Central and Spottswood.  The ethnic makeup of the student body at that time was almost fifty percent African-American.  Being a student at MSU in the late eighties meant living in an alternate world where cultural domination by a single group was not necessarily presumptive.** In the face of the naysayers, Finch was seen by many as the only choice for the job. He was the embodiment of the university's role in rebuilding the city during its troubled past and creating hope for the future.  He was great at what he did.  He demonstrated a dedication to the program and his home that was almost preternatural.  Most important of all, he was decent. 

Larry Finch was decent.  This is not an attempt at damning him with faint praise.Decency is too often  undervalued as a personal trait. Everyone has at least some degree of decency. It's when you meet someone who has such a degree of it that it seems to go to the marrow that it become apparent how extraordinary a quality it really is.  To meet Coach Finch, to see him in action, was to be in the presence of an example of what can happen when the good guys win.

I refuse to write that there will never be another person like him.  I hope somewhere there is a kid who is as innocent of cynicism and whose love of the game he or she is playing is equal to his or her love of home.  There has to be.

Godspeed, Coach Finch.

*Over the years the CA has come to be a source of excellent news writing in Tennessee.  It's worth a permanent bookmark as a local news source.

**Memphis State University wasn't a perfect utopia of harmony and understanding but it was the closest many would find to a recognition and celebration of differences and how everyone could find a higher degree of acceptance and belonging in a diverse community.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Sticks-n-Stitch 2011: This Ain't Your Gammy's Crochet Party!

A quick glance at section 331 in Bridgestone Arena would chill the heart of any French Revolution buff or Dickens scholar. Perched among the crowd of fans who were there to catch the matinee game between Columbus and Nashville were seventy men and women who were watching the game just as intently and stealing a glance every now and then to be sure of their needlework.

That's right.

Seventy people, possibly more around the bowl who had not formally regiistered for the event were seated in Bridgestone with needles and yarn in hand. Before anyone declares extreme cognitive dissonance, I would like to remind you of this: 

I did not make this up.  That is an actual book by big, scary football guy Rosey Grier. 
It should also be borne in mind that  in her own way, Mme LeFarge was kind of a badass.
Who Are All Those Happy Looking People And Where Did They Get The Cool Predators Bags?


The event was The Second Annual Nashville Predators' Sticks n Stitch. the brainchild of Predators Fan Relations Coordinator Rebecca Swan and Knit and Crochet TN's Deborah Stillwell.  The event drew seventy people to the conference room for an afternoon of knitting and hockey chatter before the game.

"My boss worked for the Florida Marlins and they used to do "Stitch and Pitch" events.  We wanted to see if we could bring this over to hockey fans," said Ms. Swan "I was very surprised the first year. We had 135 people come for the first event and we didn’t expect that. The turnout this year has been great. I love that we can bring two very different interests together."

 As the mother of a twenty-one year old who grew up playing goalie in the various youth leagues and the director of a burgeoning advocacy group that fosters education and charitable works with knitting and crocheting, putting together hockey and yarncraft seemed like a natural thing for co-creator Deborah Stillwell.

It's all for a good cause or two, or three or...

"Rebecca found us by doing a Google search.  I run a group called "Knit and Crochet TN". We have approximately 600 people on our mailing list who answer the call whenever there is a need for knitted items. We provide caps for babies in neonatal units, hats for chemo patients, helmet liners and  lap blankets for soldiers and scarves, blankets and other handmade comfort items for VA patients, hospice groups and  Tennessee Special Olympics.  The knitters and crocheters of our group are very giving and willing to step up when someone is in need. I'm very proud of them." 

The group, which is a little over two years old, was a great fit for the Predators Foundation, who will be giving the knitted caps that were donated to this event to "Nurses For Newborns". In return for donating knitted items, participants were entered into drawings for a zamboni ride and tickets for lower bowl seats. There could only be two winners, but for many being with kindred spirits and the satisfaction of doing good and leaving the conference room with a great looking Sticks-n-Stitch bag to go to a Predators game was enough to make it a perfect afternoon. 

While some participants admitted that they knit when watching at home, many bring projects with them to work on while they watch the game. 

"I didn't know we had that option," said one participant. "I figured they'd take away our needles as weapons at the door."

Frankly, I figured they were looking for contraband food, but maybe they do check for weapons during Detroit and Chicago games.

Knit One, Slash Two...

Deborah Stillwell has her own ideas about the best way to promote next year's Knit-n-Stitch event.  She would love to use a picture of Jordin Tootoo seated in a penalty box, kntting. She wasn't the only one who could imagine Tootoo or some of his teammates busy stitching.  Given the nature of the event, I had to ask these fans which Predator they thought would be most likely to pick up a pair of needles or a hook.  The most popular answer?  Pekka Rinne.  Here are their reasons for picking The Great Wall of Finland  :

"He needs something soothing that will help him wind down."

"The goalies are the most dexterous players, I think. So yeah, Pekka would be the most likely to knit. Lindback might be a knitter, too."

"I'd say Pekka because he’s European."

"Being a goalie mom, I have to go with Pekka. The good thing about knitting and crocheting is that  you can totally lose yourself into it but you need to focus at times to do something very intricate.  As a goalie, you have to do that. Obviously when the action is at the other end, you can check things out and all.  In most cases, his work is like a very involved lace knitting pattern where you have to stay totally focused and watch out for every little thing.  So I vote for him"

Tied for second were J-P Dumont and Jordin Tootoo.  The Sticks-n-Stitch crew had this to say about them:

"Tooto would do it. Hes from up north, Alaska, I think, and he has to make a lot of stuff for himself, so hes used to using his hands."

"It would have to be somebody with kids.  JP maybe?"

"Tootoo maybe.  He seems like a nice, all-around kind of guy. I'll bet he knits."

"Dumont seems like a family guy. I think he’d do it.  He would probably knit socks. Every dad needs a nice pair of socks."

There were a few other ideas floating around the room as well:

"Sullivan's got great hands, I’ll bet he can knit."

"Jerred Smithson seems like a fun person. You know he has to be able to knit."

"Joel Ward is cool.  He defintely knits."

"The new one.  BoomBoom's kid. I vote for him."

"I'm a Martin Erat fan.  The way he does shootouts, he can do anything as far as I'm concerned.  He can knit.  He can run for president. I'll vote for him." 

There was also a single vote for Terry Crisp from one of the husbands who had come along to see what would happen at a hockey and knitting consortium.  The man's wife rolled her eyes.  "It would be fun to see if any of them knits," she said.

A few of the attendees were admittedly new fans and weren't sure if they could give an answer. One knitter  said she was a fan and had her own ideas, but would only add, "If you find a knitter downstairs and he's single, give him my number!"

Predsnation, if you weren't there, you missed a great time with some fabulous new and long-time fans. There's always next year, just keep an eye on the Predators official website and remember that it usually takes place before a matinee game late in the season. In the meantime, you can brush up on your knitting and crocheting skills by hooking up with Knit and Crochet TN at their main website or by visiting their blog.  They offer classes constantly at various locations all over the Nashville for all ages and all sizes of groups. The best part?  Most classes are F-R-E-E.  Who knows?  You might just find out the scarves and hats you knit are the hit of the family gift exchange next holiday season. 

Until then, this is Jas Faulkner, who will probably be picking up her needles again sometime in May or June. I'll see you at The Stone and The Plex and online at Facebook and Twitter.

story and pictures copyright 2011 Jas Faulkner