The Nashville Predators defeated the Anaheim Ducks 6-3 in Game 6 of the Western Conference Final Monday night, advancing to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in franchise history. After a tight-knit game that saw the scored tied 3-3 as late as 11 minutes left in the game, the Predators broke away with three late goals to ensure victory.
The Predators will either face the Ottawa Senators or the Pittsburgh Penguins, depending on the result of Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final. But for team chairman Tom Cigarran, the wait for the Predators’ final opponent of the season provides a brief opportunity to reflect and enjoy the season so far.
“It was a life moment,” said Cigarran, reflecting on the final seconds of Game 6. “It was all of the stress of the games, the playoffs overall, the years that so many people in the organization worked so hard. It was all worth it, it was a great moment.”
Seeing the results of patience and hard work has paid off from Cigarran’s point of view. The Predators have had great ambition since the inaugural 1998-99 season, and now their chance to achieve the goals set out by the organization has arrived.
“We started off with big goals,” Cigarran said. “We’re going to win a Stanley Cup, and we’re going to have the No. 1 sports and entertainment venue in the United States. The second thing is you have to get great people. And we went out and got great people… Those people have to commit to the goal. They have to live it, breathe it and believe in it. The third piece is: you have to build a culture inside the organization, where, throughout the whole organization, everybody is doing their best work.”
Being committed at every level of the organization is crucial for any sports franchise to succeed, and Cigarran said that this idea is as responsible for Nashville’s success as much as the players’ performance on the ice.
There was also plenty of praise for the fans from Cigarran as well, saying that there is no point to trying to succeed with this franchise without the fans and local community.
“First of all,” Cigarran said. “No matter what we did, if the fans didn’t come out and support us, nothing would’ve worked. Nothing. We’re grateful for that. If you talk to the players, and this is not hype, this is not ‘let’s say this for the listening audience’. They’re out on the ice, and they feel the energy of the crowd and it just lifts them up.”
For Cigarran, the Predators have been more than just a business endeavor. They are a part of Nashville’s identity, and for a local like him, this kind of success isn’t the final goal, but the hopeful start of a legacy.
“We love Nashville,” Cigarran said. “We moved here 40 years ago, raised our children here. It’s home. We’re committed to Nashville, we own a burial plot. We’re not leaving.”