Predators given custom ping-pong table before Game 5 vs. Todd Bertuzzi’s fun police

We're suckers for clever opportunism in sports marketing, like when minor league hockey teams latch onto the story of the moment for a cheap bump in publicity (hello, Charlie Sheen Night for the Bakersfield Condors).

So we applaud Brand Imaging Group of Antioch, Tenn., which sent this over to the Nashville Predators before Game 5 of the Western Conference quarterfinals.

This is, of course, a callback to the incident in Detroit in which Red Wings forward Todd Bertuzzi saw Predators players using the Wings' ping-pong table, ripped the paddles of their hands and nearly caused a massive brawl before …

… OK, none of that actually happened; in fact, all Bertuzzi did was tell the security personnel at the arena to chase away the Predators from the table.

Nevertheless, Brand Imaging Group saw an opportunity for a little inventive marketing fun.

From BIG:

"We heard about the incident with the ping-pong table on the radio and the first thing I said was, 'We can't let them get away with that,'" said Scott Snoyer, owner of Brand Imaging Group, located at 5358 Mountain View Road. "From there, the idea of 'Ping-Pong for All' was born. I purchased a ping-pong table and my team had it decked out with the Predators' insignia before the end of the day."

To prepare the table, the team at Brand Imaging Group used vinyl to wrap the area in front of each side of the net with the Predators' logo. Each of the four paddles were also wrapped in the Predators' gold and navy with the slogan "Ping-Pong for All" emblazoned across them. The team has already delivered the table to Bridgestone Arena and it will be set up in the plaza for fans to enjoy before Game 5 of the Western Conference quarterfinals tonight.

"When I offered the table to the team's management, they were excited and loved that they would have the ping-pong table in time to display it on the plaza before Game 5," explained Snoyer. "My team and I are all huge fans of the Predators and we can't wait to see the reaction the table gets both from the team and from fans. We're thrilled about the team's success and are glad that we were able to support them in this way."

So yeah, the players might never actually use this table. But it's the thought that counts; and the thought from J.R. Lind of Nashville Scene is that the ping-pong controversy might still have some legs inside the arena for Game 5:

And when the series returns to Nashville Friday, there will be Forrest Gump clips shown on the Jumbotron, and gold-clad fans will wave paddles at Bertuzzi during warm-ups. On and on it goes, the silly little story doing its part to drive the action, until it flies away forgotten like a mishit forehand to be replaced by the next story — which the Preds hope is the second round for the second time.

Check out Nick Cotsonika on Nicklas Lidstrom here for more Game 5 previewing.

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