Less than twelve hours after being eliminated from the NHL playoffs for the first time since 2003, Captain Jason Arnott met with reporters to reflect on the Nashville Predator’s season.
The Captain was obviously disappointed in the Preds’s early exit, “It’s disappointing because they (his team mates) really played hard all season long, right from the all-star break on. It was an up hill battle for the whole team”.
Arnott continued, “The injuries that we had put us that much shorter, and the guys didn’t get down about it. They played that much harder”.
After the final game Arnott met with the team and told them, “how proud I was of them, how proud I was to be a Nashville Predator this year. Just the fact that we didn’t have a lot of talent. We did things that people didn’t expect and proved a lot of people wrong. I made sure everybody knew how hard they worked, how dedicated they were at the end of the year”.
When questioned about the slow start to the season, Arnott explained, “I think it took us that long (until the all-star break) to come together and mold and figure we had a legit shot at the playoffs. We made a lot of little mistakes at the beginning of the year”.
He pointed to Pekka Rinne as a key to the Pred’s resurgence, “We were still sorting goaltending out as well, going back and forth. Then Peks stepped up and took it over, so once that got settled with the goaltender the team started gelling and coming together as a team and playing a lot better”.
When asked about tying his career high in goals with 33, he states, “I really didn’t think about it much, for the most part. I wanted to get healthy after I got hurt and just wanted to try and help the team make the play offs and do as much as possible. Pucks were going in and it was desperation time where we needed the wins”.
All season long the Predators were known as a “character team”. Arnott explained what that meant to him, “We don’t have a lot of superstars on this team We are built on hard work and work ethic and heart and character. We all realized in the dressing room that that was what it was going to take to win, to step up and chip in where they could and everybody did so especially down the stretch when we had our injuries”.
Further he stated, “Everybody took it to the next level and chipped in wherever they could. We emphasized the little things that guys do instead of just the guys that scored the goals. Our team is built around the little things, the penalty killing and doing the things that win a hockey game that a lot of people don’t realize”.
Arnott will have great memories of this team as being something special, “It was an up and down season for the team and I had a lot of fun at it. I learned a lot from our guys. The heart and character of our team is indescribable. I played with some great players before but the way these guys pulled together and really worked made it a lot of fun to be around especially down the stretch”.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass and The Columbia Daily Herald
Part Three will discuss Steve Sullivan and Alexander Radulov