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Here's what Nashville Predators are saying about playing at Nissan Stadium

Published on: 02/16/2022

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Mikael Granlund's back had the best view of imagination unfolding on the field at Nissan Stadium on Wednesday.

But a smile creased the cheeks of Nashville Predators forward when he turned around to see a crew constructing what will be a 200-by-85 foot center stage of ice come Feb. 26, when his team will face the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first NHL outdoor game in the city's history.

"I can already picture that," Granlund said through a giddy grin. "It's going to look great and it's going to be fun to play there."

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As Granlund reminisced about playing hockey outside as a kid in Finland, forklifts beeped and people in orange and yellow vests swarmed the field behind him, meticulously manicuring the guts of the project.

Granlund is no stranger to NHL outdoor games, having played in a few. Still, the anticipation hasn't waned.

"That's big," he said. "I'm really happy for the people in Nashville. They get to experience this kind of event. I'm sure it brings even more hockey followers and fans."

Predators forward Colton Sissons' only experience with outdoor hockey was as a spectator in 2020 at the Winter Classic in Dallas. He was hurt before that game and did not play.

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He said he had "a lot of fun being a fan" for that game. But learning another would be played in his team's backyard brought about a new level of excitement, one he didn't see coming so soon.

"We weren't expecting it," he said. "It kind of came out of nowhere for the players. But as far as the energy and the fanbase around Nashville, I don't think it's surprising at all."

While it's just one game of 82 on the regular-season schedule, Sissons said what's attached to it means even more.

He knows the experience will be "different." He knows he plans to try to take in as much of that experience as he possibly can.

"Maybe a little bit on the intro, the walk in and when you hear the roar and see all those people," he said. "I think that will be the moment that I'll really be taking it in. It's going to be shocking, I'm sure.

"Once you get on the ice it's kind of business as usual. You can stay pretty dialed in."

Just like the crew of workers behind him.

"It's a massive process," Sissons said. "A lot of construction going on. From what it looks like right now to what it will be like when we're walking out there for warmups, it's going to be quite the difference. I hope all the guys will get to see a little bit of the process. It's pretty cool.

Reach Paul Skrbina at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @PaulSkrbina .

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