In celebration of the Nashville Predators hosting the Anaheim Ducks in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals, we thought it would be fun to write about the history of the team.
Have you ever wondered how the Preds got their name?
Twenty-five years before the Predators became Nashville’s hockey team, an excavation crew found something interesting in the bowels of downtown Nashville that would become an inspiration in naming the city’s hockey team.
In May of 1971, workers were drilling at what is today the 28-story First American Center. After going through 20 feet of solid rock they came to a soft muddy area, which opened up to reveal a cave. In it were the nine-inch fang and a foreleg bone of a saber-toothed tiger, extinct for at least 10,000 years.
Radiocarbon tests on the specimen revealed that it could have possibly been one of the last of its breed to exist. Scientists believe that some time during the last glacial period (15,000-80,000 years ago) part of the cave was the den of the saber-toothed tiger.
It was a rare find. Only five other saber-toothed tiger remains have been found on the continent. The cave was preserved, encased in concrete and protected for future education and exploration.
So, naturally, when Nashville’s new NHL team needed a name, the ice-age animal seemed a natural fit. But final say was up to the fans. The logo came first, in September of 1997, and names were given up to the public for a vote. Other options besides Predators included Ice Tigers, Fury and Attack.
The first coach of the expansion team, Barry Trotz, recalled to NHL.com what it was like working for the team before it had its name:
“It was a big event,” Trotz said. “When you get an expansion team, you’re excited about the opportunity, but until you have a name, you really don’t have an identity. I know when I went scouting before we named the team I used to go into, say, New Jersey and I’d go to the security people and say, ‘I’m with the Nashville Predators’ and they’d go, ‘What league is that?’ I’d go, ‘It’s the NHL. We’re going to play next year and we’re going to have uniforms and everything. It’s going to be really swell.’
The original saber-toothed tiger logo was co-designed by JDK Design of Burlington, Vermont and Dye, Van Mol & Lawrence of Nashville.
The logo was first unveiled on November 13, 1997 and the first jersey design was shown to the world on February 12, 1998, when Head Coach Barry Trotz and Assistant Coach Paul Gardner unveiled the Predators’ inaugural home and away jerseys at CoolSprings Galleria.
Since then the logo has changed a bit.
The logo and uniforms for the 2011-12 season were re-designed to develop a powerful, long-term brand message, as seen in the jersey’s to the right, and “help infuse new life into the Nashville Predators imagery and brand with a more contemporary, aggressive, streamlined logo that still maintains the basic Pred Head concept,” according to the Predators history.