NASHVILLE, Tenn. — When NHL veteran Vernon Fiddler heard on Feb. 4 that the New Jersey Devils had traded him to the Nashville Predators, a variety of thoughts went through his head.
With the Devils struggling on their way to a last-place finish in the Metropolitan Division, the trade afforded the 37-year-old forward one more shot at a playoff run. It also marked his return to the club that drafted him as an undrafted free agent and launched his career during the 2002-03 season.
But for the longtime country music fan, it also offered one more chance to enjoy the riches of Music City. And of course one more opportunity to answer questions about his name.
“When I tell people my name, they’re like, ‘You’re serious? That’s your name and you live in Nashville and play for the Predators?'” said Fiddler. “I guess it’s a good fit.”
The veteran of 14 seasons with five teams, Fiddler has had ample chances in his career to get his country music fix. He spent five seasons with the Dallas Stars, affording him countless opportunities to see some of his favorite country singers live. The high point of his time in Dallas came at a George Strait concert in 2014 when he caught a cowboy hat tossed by the music legend into the crowd at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
“I got it here now,” Fiddler said of the hat. “Maybe bring that out for a party at the end of the year.”
Fiddler was a healthy scratch for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins — Game 4 is Monday — but had previously collected one goal and one assist in nine playoff games this postseason. Before hunkering down for the playoff grind, he had enjoyed every country music fan’s dream and taken the time to visit the countless honky tonk bars lining Broadway in downtown Nashville.
“You go for a few beers and stuff. Not a whole bunch of time for that right now,” he said. “We’re looking forward to that when we have the Cup at the end of the year.”
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