Tuesday night at Bridgestone Arena, the Nashville Predators’ annual Meet The Team event was held, allowing season ticket holders the opportunity to meet and get autographs from their favorite Preds players and coaches. And while it was awesome to shake hands with Craig Smith, Jon Blum, and Ryan Suter, all I really wanted to do was GET KOZY (Photos courtesy of Carrie Rashford).
Putting Kozy on the Hot Seat
It was the moment that made it all worth it; the final application of ‘don’t hurt no more’ to salve the wound; the moment that will last forever. What am I talking about? I’m talking about that which every victim of violence deserves: the right to confront his attacker!
Well…okay. He didn’t really attack me, but you know what I mean.
By now you’ve probably heard (or read) about my misfortune in St. Louis last Saturday night. I was on the wrong end of an errant puck during pregame warm-ups. Nashville Predators’ forward, Sergei Kostitsyn fired a shot that caromed off the goal crossbar on a 45-degree angle, popping up into the air, backwards and to the right, soaring some 75 feet like some kind of heat-seeking missile to the exact spot where I was standing — and not looking at the ice. When someone called out the warning that a puck was in the air, I looked up just in time to see the rubber disk tumbling toward my face.
I got plunked good, but the end result was about as good as anyone could have hoped. I missed the game, spending the next four hours between the Scottrade Center’s first aid station and a local St. Louis hospital to get the one-and-a-half-inch slice stitched up. There were no facial fractures, I wasn’t concussed, and honestly, it really didn’t even hurt.
On further review, the cut on my high left cheek, I have now surmised was created not by my glasses frame as I’d originally assumed, but rather, it was the left glasses lens that popped out on impact with the puck. After thinking about it some more, I realized that the cut was too clean to have been made by the rounded edges of my glasses frame, and the edge of the lens, while not razor sharp is definitely enough so to easily do the job.
The actual agent of damage doesn’t really matter anyway; the important part is, I came away pretty cheaply compared to what could have happened, and you bet’cha by golly I’m counting my lucky stars for that.
However, from the moment I realized that I really was okay, I began plotting my revenge!
Well…okay. Not really REVENGE revenge, but you know what I mean.
I knew that just three days later I’d have the chance to at least get the puck that struck me autographed by the reluctant assassin himself…and guilt-trip the heck out of ‘im while I was at it.
Victimizing the Assailant
Tuesday night, the annual Predators Meet The Team event was held at Bridgestone Arena. Unlike the “good old days” at one of these events, when you could visit every player table and collect autographs from all the Predators team member participating, now that we have all these darned extra STHs, you really have to make a calculated decision early on as to which of the 4-5 tables you truly want to visit, because I’m sorry, you’re probably not gonna make it through all of ‘em in the time allotted.
I ended up making it to four tables that night, but the one I absolutely refused to miss was manned by Frankie Bouillon and my target for the evening, forward Sergei Kostitsyn.
Just like me, Sergei wouldn’t know what hit him.
Now obviously, back in St. Louis on Saturday, I wasn’t in a position to see or even inquire about who it was that had hit the puck that ended up hitting me. However, I was told by several from our group who observed what happened, that of all the Nashville players on the ice, Kostitsyn showed the most concern directed over to the right side half-wall area where the puck went into the stands. He supposedly looked…then stopped…then looked some more. So it appeared that he knew that he was the responsible party.
I was determined that I was either gonna give him a hard time about it Tuesday night or look really stupid trying. Maybe I could go for both.
Special thanks to the very kind efforts of the delightful Carrie Rashford (@lilcarebear82 on Twitter), who took valuable time away from her own autograph-collecting on Tuesday night in order to position herself to capture the moment (you can click the photos to view them at a larger size).
When my turn in line came up, with the offending puck in hand, I strode to Kostitsyn’s position and slapped it down on the table, face-up, revealing the St. Louis Post-Dispatch promotional logo printed on the front. I said, “Serrrgei… Do you recognize this?” Kostitsyn displayed a puzzled look as he picked up and inspected the puck for a second or two. Then he looked back up at me and gave a brief shrug.
The reaction was priceless.
Kostitsn’s expression kinda reminded me of that old-fashioned wind-up siren they have people crank up at the beginning of the second and third periods at Predators home games; it took a second for it to register, but when he realized what the relationship between he, the puck, and my purple left eye was, his eyes grew as big as saucers.
“Ohhh…OOOOOHHHH!” Kostitsyn emoted, as a huge smile came over each of our faces and everyone burst into laughter.
Meanwhile, sitting to Kostitsyn’s right, Frankie Bouillon was wearing a puzzled smile. “What did he do to you? He chuckled. “He hit me with the puck!” I said in mock derision.
Sergei signed the puck and I shook his hand, assuring him that I was fine, but I just had to give him a bit of a hard time about it. Everybody had a good laugh. Kostitsyn appeared a little embarrassed, and may not have understood everything I said, but I know he understood that there was no ill will on my part.
I’m just very happy it all turned out the way it did.
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Leggy’s Finding His Legs Early in the Season
I know it’s early, but could we be seeing an offensively-minded David Legwand for the entire 2011-12 season? The original Preds draft pick has been a force in the offensive zone in each of the past two postseasons, but from the get-go this year, he appears to be picking up right where he left off last May.
The apparent number one line of Legwand, Colin Wilson, and rookie sensation Craig Smith has been dynamic in Nashville’s opening two games, with Leggy notching two goals and three assists for five points on the young season. Smith is not far behind with an even two goals and two assists for four points. The talented youngster will attempt to extend his Predators rookie record for goals in consecutive games to begin an NHL career at three with another marker tonight in the team’s home opener against the Phoenix Coyotes at Bridgestone Arena at 7pm.
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Special Team Dreams
It’s something that everyone has noticed, but few have dared to assume. The Predators appear to have real momentum on the power play that started in the preseason and has carried right on into the regular season’s first two games. The PP has gone a combined 3-for-7 thus far (a 42.9% clip), attacking with brisk puck movement seldom seen in Nashville since the days of Paul Kariya. Not quite so surprising, but just as importantly, the penalty kill has also been outstanding, having gone 9-for-10 in the team’s initial two games.
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