Like the rest of his Nashville Predators teammates, Colton Seasons I couldn’t wait to ring in 2020 outside at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.
But then, in the last game of the 2019 calendar, a lower-body injury changed his plans. Instead of donning the suit in front of 85,000 spectators, he watched the Sissons in sweats and walking shoes as the Preds played the first outdoor game in franchise history.
Just over two years later, the Sissons can’t wait for a second chance.
“I had a lot of fun being a fan, but it’s different than being on the ice there,” Sissons said of his experience at the 2020 Winter Classic. “The first time will be very exciting – more so for me.”
The Centerman and his teammates are set to host the Tampa Bay Lightning under the spotlight at Nissan Stadium on February 26 as the 2022 NHL Stadium Series comes to Nashville for what is sure to be an epic party with mixed hockey.
Of course, there will still be two points at stake for the Brids and the Stanley Cup champion, but that’s all part of the fun, especially for a first-timer.
“There is always a lot of excitement about these games, and it’s hard to fully focus on the game, but [I’ll have to] Take a few moments, check out the crowd, see what happens and have fun, said Seasons. “You don’t get these opportunities in our career very often, so I will definitely take some time to enjoy them and try to remember them as much as I can.”
Video: Colton Seasons Preview of 2022 NHL Stadium Series Game
The Sissons, who grew up in North Vancouver, British Columbia, didn’t have much experience outdoors in his younger days in the milder climate of the Pacific Northwest. On the other hand, fellow Michael Granlund – The Finn who has spent winters in a country that sees only a few hours of daylight in the colder months – is kind of a veteran when it comes to skiing under the stars.
In addition to the games he played as a child, Granlund is preparing for his fifth professional outdoor competition, two of which came in his native Finland before two more in the NHL — one in Minnesota and then another in Dallas with the Brads two years ago.
Even with all that experience, Granlund says he will never tire of these opportunities, especially the chance to participate in the first-ever NHL outdoor game in Tennessee.
“It’s one of the coolest things you can have as a hockey player,” Granlund said on Wednesday as he and the Seasons looked at the construction of the rink at Nissan Stadium. “To be able to play outside, here in Nashville in front of our fans, it’s really exciting and everyone is really looking forward to that.
“As a kid when you were growing up, you skated on the outdoor rinks, and that’s how we all grew up pretty much. That’s one of the best things about your childhood when you were able to go out and hang out with your friends and play some hockey, and it kind of reminds me of that. You can play outside and enjoy that air Pure – it’s really exciting.”
Video: Mikael Granlund Previews 2022 NHL Stadium Series Game
Sissons and Granlund say they have friends and family coming to town for the event, and with another massive event set just 48 hours before the outdoor event – the retirement of former Preds goalkeeper Pekka Rinne – the fellow Finn speculates that his fellow countrymen may have the desire to become Honorary Nashvilleans for the long weekend.
“I have a few friends coming in, and Pecs obviously has a game he retired a couple of days ago, so I think half of Finland [going to be] Here, “Granlund laughed.” I think there will be a lot of Finnish speakers around town. But it’s really exciting. You always want to bring family, friends or anyone to these events, because these are special moments that you don’t spend too often.”
And to do so in Nashville — a city that most believe would never be able to freeze an ice hockey team, let alone get the game outside — is just another milestone for a chain that continues to weave its place in the fabric of this city.
The Sissons — who has spent his entire NHL career with the Preds — also declared, “Another feather in the Nashville hockey cap.”
“we had [Stanley Cup] “Final here, we’ve had the All-Star game here, and we’ve had a lot of great events to raise the energy around hockey and build a fan base,” Seasons said. This is kind of the next step.”
“I’m really happy for Nashville and the fans because they enjoyed this kind of event,” Granlund said. “I’m sure it brings a lot of hockey followers and fans, and these are exciting events. So, I’m really excited about it, and I’m really happy for the people in Nashville that they got to experience this.”