Making Changes: A Salute to Game Ops
By: Miranda Martin
In the Preds 5-3 victory over the Calgary Flames last night, the performance of the players like Mike Fisher and Martin Erat will be the headlines for many blog posts and news articles. But something needs to be noted and appreciated: the hard work of the Game Operations.
With the Predators going 1-4-1 in their last 6 games before last night, including 4 straight losses, the game operations for the Nashville Predators had quite the task. The people come for a hockey game, but what about when the hockey game is just lackluster? Just what do you do in case that the team doesn’t perform well at home to make sure the casual fan gets what they paid for?
You give ‘em a show.
Just like the team’s been promising, the Game Ops delivered and made a few changes to their lineup. The beginning started with a brand new pre-game video, as “Thunderstruck” hit the cutting room floor. It began slowly, with a highlight of a Nelson Mandela speech, reassuring fans with the famed quote from Marianne Williamson’s speech: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” It also included a mashup of other little motivated speeches from sports movies as a catharsis for the disheartening 5-game road trip. Initially, it felt like a somewhat depressing message, but it truly embodied the frustration of not only the team but the fans as well. They followed up with a new “Cat Scratch Fever” video, where the highlights focused mainly on the fans. Nearly every image was generally a fan, a player face, or a fisticuff. It wasn’t until later in the video that we had a friendly reminder that this team knows how to score and win.
The first period just showed how much the Game Ops was on their game. While the Preds had 2 shorthanded goals scored against them and the fans quickly grew quiet, the team upstairs went to work. One of the newer and odder integrations to the repertoire of game videos is “the goat,” the viral screaming goat that has found itself in Taylor Swift and Celine Dion parodies on YouTube. Not long after the second Calgary goal, the goat appeared, and, with the assist of a Rich Clune fight as well, the fans got more into it. They kept the momentum by changing up the music, including a “Purple Rain” Gnash skit in the second period and an impromptu “Bohemian Rhapsody” singalong in the third period.
More so, the intermissions for the past several games have been used introducing players in the local Nashville Youth Hockey League, namely mite teams. This has happened before and is not a “Nashville exclusive” event, but it is a wonderful opportunity to give youth hockey a boost and show the growth of hockey in Nashville. The new “popcorn drop” was a nice little change for the second intermission, and it was actually quite a surprise.
Thankfully, the Predators gave the fans something to cheer about, but Game Ops was right there in case something went wrong. That’s one of the best parts about Nashville—it isn’t just a hockey game. It’s an entertainment experience. I’ve traveled to Chicago, St. Louis, Columbus, and Atlanta, and in my experience, I’ve never seen a franchise so catered to entertaining the fans. This is a major component to why the team succeeds, and when the team does well, it’s often disregarded.
Maybe Game Ops was on their best behavior because Gary Bettman was in the house. Maybe Lee Greenwood just needed to escape from Branson for a few days. Maybe the guy from The Blindside needed a picture of himself on the megatron to tweet. Either way, the Game Ops were on top of things, including new songs and great entertainment.
So kudos, Game Ops. In case the team at home turns into the team from the road, fans will always have you to fall back on.