While most NHL players are plying their trade abroad during the ongoing league lockout, team support staffs have been sitting idle, whiling away the hours doing … well, Prep Rally doesn't know what they're doing.
What they weren't doing was cheering on professional hockey teams, which is what people like cheerleaders, mascots and the like are for. With that in mind, the Nashville Predators decided to do something special for two youth hockey teams and keep it a surprise.
The resulting "smash mob" is easily the greatest thing Prep Rally has seen from the sport of hockey since the lockout began.
After two Nashville youth hockey teams arrived at a local rink for what they assumed was a pizza party they were greeted with 200 fans, the entire Predators cheering team, the mascot Gnash, head coach Barry Trotz and his assistants and the full broadcast and in-stadium announcing crew.
Needless to say, there were smiles all around.
"It was an incredible experience for the boys," Matt Dunn, coach of the Blizzard, told the Nashville City Paper. "You could see the adrenaline just flowing through them. They couldn't keep the smiles off their faces. They had a little more jump in their steps. They were flying all over the ice.
"Having all that enthusiasm with the crowd noise and all that, it really made it special for these kids."
The Blizzard eventually prevailed 2-0 against an opponent known as the Cyclones. Both teams are part of the Predators Youth Hockey initiative. In the process Trotz had to do some penalty box counseling -- "That was my first time doing that," Trotz told the City Paper. "He was a little teary-eyed because he didn't think he deserved one and I agreed with him on that call." -- Gnash got to slide on the ice as is his brief and the Music City crowd got to see some hockey, at long last.
Take note, NHL: This is how you win the lockout. You remind the fans that they still matter, and you show them how much by bringing the game to them. The Predators' event had nothing to do with any revenue sharing or salary cap implications, and it was all the better for it.