The October 2023 Edition

Predators Returning to Their Roots To Reset And Build Franchise for a Brighter Future

By TOM WOOD / OCTOBER 13, 2023

Twenty-five years ago, the Nashville Predators made their debut with rookie head coach Barry Trotz and promising left winger Andrew Brunette. They lost their first game but won the second on a goal by Brunette, a historic moment in what would be his only season on the team. Today, both are back with the team — Trotz as only the second general manager in franchise history and Brunette as only the fourth coach in team history.

I write about the Trotz-Brunette Silver Anniversary reunion and their plans for the future in the Oct. 13-19 Nashville Ledger.

Just like that first season, the Preds lost their season-opener but bounced back to defeat the Kraken 3-0 in Thursday night’s second game and give Brunette his first victory as coach.

“It was really cool,” Brunette said after the game. “The introductions and the start of the game reminded me of a different time when I was way younger and less gray. I got more gray as the game went on. Once you’re a player and you’ve put on a Predators uniform, even though you’re not a player, you always feel like you’re still a player. You still have all of the jitters and the excitement. It was fun to be part of tonight for sure, and to get a win makes it extra special.”

Southern Festival of Books On the Move

If you haven’t yet heard the big news, the prestigious Southern Festival of Books is on the move this from its downtown traditional Nashville location to Bicentennial Mall. And while there is a week of of events leading up to it, the Festival will shrink from three days to two.

Put these dates on your calendar. Festival times are SATURDAY OCTOBER 21 9AM CST to 6PM CST and SUNDAY OCTOBER 22 10AM CST to 5PM CST

I will be there in both the Authors Circle – Mid Tenn and Sisters in Crime Middle Tennessee booths (Booths 22 and 20, respectively; see the locator map below) with more than a dozen local authors, and we invite you to stop by and browse. This will mark my 10th year of attending the Festival as an author — and the 10-year anniversary of my debut novel VENDETTA STONE, a journalism-based, fictional “true-crime” story. I’ll have a few copies with me at SFOB.

I published the book after spending 34 years at The Tennessean as a sportswriter and copy editor. These days, I’m mostly writing short stories as a member of the Harpeth River Writers, screenplays as a member of the Tennessee Screenwriting Association and writing on a variety of subjects for the Nashville Ledger.

The Authors Circle – Mid Tenn booth is No. 22

Antioch Transit Center Is a Dream Come True

District 32 Councilwoman Joy Styles has for the better part of a decade been seeking a new mass transit hub to help ease Nashville’s traffic woes — especially along the I-24 corridor that runs through her district.

Thanks to a $5 million contribution from the Federal Transit Administration in mid-September, Styles’ dreams are about to be realized. The Antioch Transit Center is expected to open as early as 2025 at the site of the old Hickory Hollow / Global Mall that Metro bought for $44 million.

“I love that Nashville is making the investment in us. To have this funding, for this regional transit center to be the first thing that’s going to be moving on the site, for us changes the game,” Styles told me for my Sept. 29 story in the Nashville Ledger.

“It will be a very collaborative process (between state, local and federal entities). And the goal is we’ll be looking at moving dirt starting next year and that this (hub) could be completed by 2025 (or) 2026 without any hiccups.”

Groundbreaking for the Antioch Transit Center will take place in early 2024 and the hub could open as early as 2025.

Vanderbilt Struggles Continue

“Out of the frying pan and into the fire” is an English idiom that dates all the way back to 1532 — and perfectly describes the state of Vanderbilt’s football team today.

After starting the 2023 season at 2-0 with wins over Hawaii and Alabama A&M, the Commodores have lost four in a row, including back-to-back SEC losses to Kentucky and Missouri, both ranked in the Top 25.

And things don’t get easier in October. Vandy is at No. 22 Florida on Oct. 7 before hosting No. 1 Georgia on Oct. 14. After that, the Commodores have an open date before visiting No. 20 Ole Miss. The November schedule includes Auburn, South Carolina and No. 21 Tennessee.

That rigorous schedule will likely keep the Commodores from a postseason bowl unless things rapidly turn around for coach Clark Lea‘s Team 3.

The ongoing construction at the stadium as well as the rebuilding project by Lea looked shaky at times. Those construction efforts and the prospects for a postseason bowl game are the subject of one of my latest story for the Nashville Ledger.

On and off the football field, Vanderbilt is a work in progress regarding both facilities and the SEC team led by coach Clark Lea.

Ledger Cover by Michael Hopey

Killer Nashville Award to Robert Mangeot

Congratulations to author Robert Mangeot on winning several awards at the Killer Nashville International Writers’ Conference earlier this month in Franklin, Tennessee. Bob earned a Claymore Award finalist in the Best Short Story Collection / Anthology category with “Parts of the Problem.” The Claymore Award is for unpublished works while the Silver Falchion Award goes for already published books. My current project “Doomstone and Other Thrilling Tales” was a Claymore Award finalist.

The Claymore honor — and it’s a very big deal to make it to the finals — comes on the heels of July’s Tennessee Press Association Awards, where several of my 2022 articles helped the Ledger weekly newspapers in Nashville and Knoxville win numerous awards.

The General Excellence Award went to Knoxville and I was among the writers who helped Knoxville win first place for Business reporting. In Nashville, I was among the writers who won Best Sports Writing honors. I also had three second-place finishes for the Ledger.

Killer Nashville award to Robert Mangeot

The Ledger papers in Knoxville and Nashville won numerous Tennessee Press Association awards that were announced in July.

Here are some my the other recent Ledger stories:

Music City Grand Prix In Fast Company

As I write this, the third annual Music City Grand Prix revs up the engines for Sunday’s 80-lap street race that begins at Nissan Stadium and crosses the Cumberland River via the Korean Veterans Memorial Bridge.

In 2024, due to construction of the new Titans stadium, the course will move downtown, racing along Lower Broadway and across the bridge. That’s the subject of my Aug. 4-10 Ledger story, where you’ll also see a map of the new course layout. IndyCar is moving the race from early August to mid-September, and it will be the Series’ season-finale, where the champion will also be crowned.

I also write about Nashville driver Josef Newgarden and his quest to become the race’s first American champion. It’s not too much of a stretch to say that in just three years, the Music City Grand Prix has become IndyCar’s second-biggest event behind the Indianapolis 500 — which Newgarden won for the first time in May.

-Ledger cover by Michael Hopey

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