Saturday, 2 November 2019

Music City Heritage

The building in the image to the left is the old Nashville Memorial Auditorium. It's a significant building because it was the first rink in Nashville to house a professional hockey team when the Dixie Flyers called the Auditorium home. Why is this important, you ask? Well, with the Nashville Predators getting set to play the Dallas Stars at the 2020 Winter Classic in Dallas, Texas, the Predators showed off their uniforms for the event and the jerseys have a lot of that Dixie heritage in them!

The original Dixie Flyers took up residence in Nashville in 1962 as a member of the Eastern Hockey League until the franchise folded in 1971. Twice, they were the EHL Champions, winning back-to-back titles in 1965-66 and 1966-67. In 1964-65 and 1968-69, the Flyers lost in the EHL Final, so they had a pretty solid squad for the majority of their time in Nashville.

That 1964-65 team was a bit of an anomaly as the Nashville Dixie Flyers featured five players who scored 40 or more goals - Ted McCaskill (60), Joe Zorica (41), Wayne Clairmont (40), John Lumley (47), and George Standing (54) - and scored a league-high 349 goals, but were defeated in the final by the John Muckler-coached Long Island Ducks four-games-to-one after limited the Dixie Flyers to just ten goals in five games. Defence does win championships!

In any case, the Nashville Dixie Flyers would erase that lost the following year when they swept the Ducks in the final to win their first EHL championship with Clairmmont, McCaskill, and Zorica leading the way. Here's a team picture of the Nashville Dixie Flyers from the mid-1960s as this will be important for the next paragraph.

Today, the Nashville Predators unveiled their Winter Classic jerseys that have been inspired by the EHL's Nashville Dixie Flyers, and there's a lot to like about the Predators' efforts to replicate the jerseys worn by Nashville's first pro hockey team.
It's fairly clear that the Predators replicated the same stripe pattern, the script name that the Dixie Flyers used, and the lace-up collars that are seen on the EHL club's uniforms. While the patch on the Predators' shoulders is a modern-day thing, the only major shift that the Predators made was to re-colour their Winter Classic uniforms to reflect their "visitors" status.

Was it necessary to go with a white jersey? I'm not certain that it was considering that Nashville could have gone yellow, but if they intend on using this jersey moving forward, they would need to differentiate it from their normal uniform set. That being said, it's almost assured that Dallas, Nashville's opponent on January 1, will be wearing green as their base colour, and we'll find out what Dallas looks like on November 6. The one thing that I can say about this jersey is that the more I see it, the more I like it because it looks like an old-time jersey. And that's exactly what Winter Classics should be about - the game's heritage!

I like that Nashville is honouring its heritage with this jersey. If there are places that people once hammered for a "lack of hockey history," sunbelt teams took the brunt of that complaint. Clearly, though, the Nashville Dixie Flyers established some incredible hockey history in Nashville within the EHL, and I like how the Nashville Predators are going into their first Winter Classic by giving a solid nod to the first professional hockey team that called Nashville home.

Well done, Predators!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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