This year’s NHL All-Star weekend is being held in Nasheville, Music City, now home to the Predators.
Much of the publicity about the game has involved the new format for the game and the John Scott controversy.
However, there is an interesting story to be told beyond the rink – a history of hockey in Nashville, of which not many are familiar.
With thanks and credit to the “Hockey Night in Nashville” blog which brings “news and developments of the Nashville Predators, as well as notable developments around the NHL”, here is an abridged version of hockey history in Nashville:
It all started with the Nashville Dixie Flyers. The Dixie Flyers were a minor league team in the Eastern Hockey League, and spent nine seasons in Nashville from 1962-1971. Throughout their time in Nashville, the Dixie Flyers posted a 336-267-44 record. As Richard in the comments section pointed out, the Dixie Flyers brought the only hockey championships that Nashville has seen thus far. They won back to back Walker Cups in the Eastern Hockey League in the 1965-66 season and 1966-67 season. In 1967, they actually swept the playoffs, going 11-0 throughout the postseason. That record still stands.
After the Dixie Flyers, it took ten years for Nashville to have another hockey team to call their own. The Nashville South Stars came in 1981. In the 1981-82 season, the South Stars were in the Central Hockey League with a respecatble 41-35-4 record. A season later, they were moved to the Atlantic Coast Hockey League, where they finished with an abysmal 11-43-4 record. The team was then moved to Virginia.
In 1989, the Nashville Knights came to town as part of the East Coast Hockey League. It was clear that minor league hockey drew a different audience than that of an NHL audience. Nashville resident Phillip Reid, who attended the majority of home games for the Knights while growing up, said “People weren’t there to see skilled players dangle and make plays….they were there for the fights and blood.”
The Knights played a pivotal role in the evolution of hockey in Nashville. “The Knights introduced me, and my generation, to hockey. My parents learned the game through the South Stars and Dixie Flyers, but as a kid growing up in the 80’s and 90’s, I had the Knights,” Reid said. The Knights went 215-210-0-22-11(OT loss and Shootout loss) from 1989-1996, before they were moved to Pensacola
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