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NHL teams are always looking for motivation behind the scenes, inside of their dressing rooms.
That’s why we see hard hats and construction helmets handed out to players of the game. That’s why we see motivational posters with self-help platitudes plastered around the lockers. And that’s why there’s a snarling dog named Stanley as the unofficial mascot of the Nashville Predators this season.
Before the season, coach Peter Laviolette commissioned the image of a blue bulldog chomping on a bone, with “speed” and “attitude” written on it. On its front leg is a Predators logo. Above it are the words “I DARE YOU.”
He liked its snarl, and its stance. He wanted the team to resemble it.
“Our concept was just behind the dog and just more of an image of what you would want your team to look like and how you would want them to play,” Laviolette said of Stanley, who appeared on the team’s dressing room door this season. “And players have contribute into it as well.”
That they have. There’s the victory song, AC/DC’s “Givin’ the Dog a Bone,” that sprung from the Stanley The Dog movement. (A song with, uh, quite the lyrics.)
“The players [added the music],” Laviolette said.
There’s the giant metal chain with a lock on it that the players of the game wear in the locker room, resembling the kind of chain one might find on an aggressive hound.
“No one is going to come in here and steal anything from us,” Preds defenseman Mattias Ekholm told NHL.com. “We’re going to protect it. We’re going to do everything in our power to defend what we stand for. It’s sort of the same theme with trying to take a bone from a dog. That’s what he’s going to defend.”
As defenseman P.K. Subban told the National Post, the team has a “dog on a bone” mentality this season. “We want to dictate the pace of the game and we want to attack you in all three zones as a five-man unit and be tough to play against,” said Subban. “I think everybody on our team can skate, move the puck and make plays. But I think the difference for us is the ability for us to get in there and challenge teams physically and really move our feet to check and defend.”
So the next time you’re wondering where Nashville gets that dogged play or how the players hound the other team, paws for a second and consider the inspiration they’re drawing from Peter Laviolette’s fictional bulldog. For the Predators are, through two rounds of these playoffs, good boys.
[Scratches behind ears.]
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