The Nashville Predators have been having one heck of a postseason so far, and in more ways than just winning games. After losing in 7 games to the San Jose Sharks during the second round of the 2016 NHL playoffs, the Predators pushed themselves to a Stanley Cup Final berth in the 2017 postseason. The team has never made it as far as the Cup Final before, so even making it this far is a boon for the city and the franchise.
Winning isn’t the only thing that is driving fan enjoyment during this postseason though, as a variety of celebrities have leaped onto the Nashville bandwagon with verve and appeared at games in varying capacities. Some have simply bought tickets to cheer the team on, some have served as guest singers for the National Anthem, and some have pumped up the crowd while enjoying a variety of cold beverages in the stands.
Which celebrity has been the best at spreading Preds cheer over the last few weeks, you ask? Behold, a semi-arbitrary but completely accurate ranking!
1. Carrie Underwood
Underwood gets the top spot because, well, she’s the captain’s wife for one thing. Having been married to Mike Fisher for going on seven years now, the country star also deserves the top slot on this incredibly arbitrary list because you can pretty much lock it in that she hasn’t been a bandwagon fan ever since Fisher was traded from the Senators to the Preds and the couple moved to Underwood’s career home base permanently.
Also, Underwood kicked off the string of famous singers showing up to belt out the National Anthem at home games.
2. Trisha Yearwood
Trisha is second because she just is, okay? Don’t ask questions about the reasoning of ranking Trisha Yearwood high on a list. She locked a Top 5 ranking on any list ever about two decades ago and never looked back. Best macaroni and cheese recipes? Most awesome Tennessee residents? Ability to best bring any fan to their knees with one note? Put her near the top on all of those.
It’s also incredibly adorable that her husband and fellow country megastar Garth Brooks spoiled the surprise that she was the anthem singer before Game 6.
If you have questions about this please defer to Jason Isbell’s accurate assessment of literally any situation involving Trisha Yearwood.
Paramore is less a group of bandwagon fans and more just awesome celebrity fans, as they’ve been popping up at Bridgestone Arena in downtown Nashville for months now. They’ve taken pictures with fans, shown up on the jumbotron, and repeatedly danced their hearts out in support of their beloved Predators. The only thing better than a sincere celebrity bandwagon fan is unabashed celebrity fans that have been with a team for months or more.
4. Kelly Clarkson
Similar to Trisha, Kelly surprised everyone at the game by coming out to perform an awesome rendition of the anthem. Although the Texas native has never forgotten her country roots (she is married to Reba McEntire’s stepson as well) it’s nice to see one of the best singers in the game decide that the Preds bandwagon is the right choice for her.
The Dallas Stars are going to have to really step up their Kelly Clarkson courting game the next time they come close to a Cup Final.
5. Marcus Mariota and the Tennessee Titans Offensive Line
Having athletes support the other teams in their respective cities would be a great thing to have happen more often. But that isn’t always realistic logistically because of season overlap between sports so having them there in the playoffs is quite good enough. For Marcus Mariota and the Titans O-Line they took “showing up to support” to the next level with a group beer chug, a towel wave, and even a catfish appearance courtesy of left tackle Taylor Lewan.
They even kept the catfish tradition rolling over multiple games, even if the fish never actually left their suite. Athletes should be good role models, we guess.
6. Keith Urban
Urban sang a solid anthem and convinced Nicole Kidman to attend a hockey game. Say it with me now: Bo-nus points! Bo-nus points! Bo-nus points!
7. Dak Prescott
During Game 3 between Nashville and St. Louis, Cowboys QB Dak Prescott showed up to support Nashville fully decked out in blue and gold gear. He hasn’t goofed off in the stands, sang anything, or even really acknowledged it. But he’s on the list simply because “hockey fan based in a city where a pro athlete plays is mad that pro athlete is supporting another market” is a uniquely entertaining thing to watch.
Wow, the Stars are really getting pushed under a bus celebrity fan-wise in these rankings, aren’t they?
8. Kings of Leon
Oh Caleb Followill, I remember my first beer…
But it’s not just celebrities that should be taking advantage of Smashville’s success by purchasing tickets to this outlandishly overstuffed bandwagon. Other hockey fans should also be joining in on the fun too. One of the semi-unfortunate hallmarks of hockey fans is that once their team has been eliminated from the playoffs, there isn’t any rush to hop on another bandwagon for the playoffs despite how fun other teams are during any given year.
Chaos can be fun to root for, sure, but if you aren’t seriously invested in a team you’re probably missing out on the visceral ups and downs that make the hunt for the Stanley Cup such a special experience. Naturally, the team you’ve rooted for over a period of decades not being the team with a shot at the Cup is painful and the glory isn’t as much of a payoff. But having another option is nice too, especially when it’s a team with as good a story as the Predators.
Through their first 16 seasons as a franchise, they won three postseason series — period. They’ve now won three series in one year and are poised to be posing on the ice with the Stanley Cup in a matter of seven games or less. There’s also the matter of how full of joy and genuine excitement Nashville’s fans are right now. The city is a great place to watch hockey – which not everyone would expect from such a comparatively nascent market – whether you are in the arena or at a bar on Lower Broadway, and when the team clinched a berth in the Final, fans blasted Tim McGraw outside of the stadium. It’s the Preds’ goal song and a pretty perfect one at that.
There’s Pekka Rinne in net, Filip Forsberg’s youthful presence on the ice, and the veteran support of PA Parenteau who came to the team as a hired gun from the New Jersey Devils at the trade deadline. It’s not real playoff hockey unless some old guy is hanging around after joining a few months before the postseason begins.
If, even after all of that, you someone can’t see why the Predators are the story you should be rooting for, may I offer up one last enticing detail? Possibly the most enticing detail for a certain set of fans?
Yes, it’s that time. It’s “pop champagne because PK Subban might win a Cup with a team that isn’t the Montreal Canadiens” time. For fans of rival teams to the Habs, this is an opportunity that until last year looked like it could never happen. Being able to root for Subban, who is a thoroughly enjoyable hockey player to watch and a genuinely good person off the ice, without having to swallow Habs hate is a blessing. And for him to help lead a team to the promised land so soon after being a part of one of the most shocking trades in NHL history is just icing on the cake.
The Penguins and the Senators, currently entering Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals with Pittsburgh up 3-2, each have a few reasons why they are worthy of your support too. But at the end of the day, Pittsburgh has won multiple Stanley Cups in the past few years and the Sens are pretty boring to actually watch for longer than a period at a time. Their neutral-zone defensive focus might be working for them thus far (although, uh, not for Game 5) but it’s more yawn-inducing than watching Norwegian slow TV after taking an Ambien.
The Predators are the best choice here, and tickets to the bandwagon are selling twice as fast now that they’ve clinched a spot in the Final. If it’s not the celebrities or the history or the Subban of it all that convinces you then maybe the desire to simply watch exciting, quality hockey is what will finally tip the scales in Nashville’s favor.
Welcome to Smashville. The Kings of Leon just sidled up to the bar, and Trisha Yearwood will be taking the stage shortly.