The last time Nashville hosted an NHL Draft, Bridgestone Arena was known as the Gaylord Entertainment Center and the Nashville Predators had been a franchise for all of five seasons.
Now, two decades later, Nashville has been named the host city for the 2023 NHL Draft and NHL Awards, as announced by the league on Thursday.
The events will fall between CMA Fest and Nashville’s Fourth of July celebration and mark the fifth major NHL event the city has hosted, joining the 2003 NHL Draft, 2016 NHL All-Star Game, 2017 Stanley Cup Final and 2022 Stadium Series.
Nashville-hosted marquee events have typically done well. The Stadium Series drew a crowd of more than 68,000 and had an estimated economic impact between $15 and $20 million. The 2016 All-Star Game drew an attendance of 17,113, and at the time it was the most-watched NHL All-Star game since 2004. It had an economic impact of approximately $25 million.
“Time and time again, our teams have come together to create new ways to present the biggest showcases in our sport by allowing the unique passion of our fans to shine through,” Predators President and CEO Sean Henry said in a release.
“It’s been more than 15 years since these two events were hosted in the same city in the same year — next June, we are penciling that week with Smashville as the center of the hockey world. It will let hockey fans worldwide celebrate the best in our game and welcome its future stars right here in the heart of Music City.”
The NHL Awards will be held Monday, June 26, and will honor the league’s best players from the regular season. Awards presented include the Hart Trophy (league MVP), Vezina Trophy (best goaltender), Norris Trophy (best defenseman), Calder Trophy (best rookie) and the Ted Lindsay Award (most outstanding player as voted on by the NHL Players Association).
The NHL Draft will follow two days later with Round 1 taking place on Wednesday, June 28, and Rounds 2-7 on Thursday, June 29. The last time the Predators hosted the draft in 2003, the club selected future All-Star defensemen Ryan Suter and Shea Weber.
“We are thrilled to bring two of our marquee events — the 2023 NHL Awards and the 2023 NHL Draft — to Nashville, a special city that certainly knows how to throw a great party,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said.
“… The Predators organization and the country music community have overwhelmed the NHL with their welcome and support every time Nashville has hosted a league event. We cannot wait to return next June to celebrate the stars of our game and introduce the next generation of NHL players.”
Follow Michael Gallagher on Twitter @MGsports_