Arnott seeking win against Predators
Faces former team for first time since returning to New Jersey
“I just want to win, get two points,” Arnott said after Thursday's practice. “That’s what we need.”
It has been a successful return for Arnott, the Devils’ 2000 Stanley Cup hero, who was reacquired from Nashville in a June deal for prospect Matt Halischuk and a 2011 second-rounder.
Though the Devils have struggled to win, Arnott has been one of their consistent performers and leads them with nine goals.
He was just 27 when he was traded from New Jersey to Dallas in 2002. He spent three full seasons with the Stars, then signed in Nashville for four seasons, including three in which he served as captain.
With Arnott in the fold, the Predators made three appearances in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
“It was fun, great group of guys, great place to live,” Arnott said. “It was a great place to play, the fans were fantastic. Even if we got twelve or thirteen thousand, it felt like a full building. It’s a fun rink to play in, no question. We had a great group of guys. A lot of young talent that are really coming into their own now. It was fun to play with them.”
Satisfied with his decision to accept a trade from Nashville, it still wasn’t an easy one to make.
“I had to really think about it,” he said. “It was something that I had to discuss with my family as well. It was a hard decision.”
Arnott had strong offensive campaigns with the Preds, posting goal totals of 27, 28 and 33 before slipping to 19 last year. But his experience wearing the “C” enhanced his abilities as a leader. It also had an impact on how he viewed his role.
“I guess you look at the game and approach the game in a different manner,” he said. “You’ve got the responsibility of a whole team and everybody looks to you to lead on and off the ice and do the little things. It was a great learning experience for me, especially because we had such a young group. It was great."
Arnott said this summer he'd always wanted to rejoin the Devils and reunite with former linemate Patrik Elias, who set up his 2000 Cup-clinching goal against Dallas.
Though they've been shuffled to different lines in recent games, they have renewed that chemistry when paired together this season. Elias leads the Devils with 21 points, and age hasn’t diminished Arnott’s scoring touch.
“You worry about other aspects of your game a lot more as you get older,” Arnott said. “I always put pressure on myself to go out and score and help offensively, no question."
Arnott loves life in New Jersey. He pointed out that Nashville has made strides as a hockey market.
“It’s different there,” he explained. “Music takes over. (Tennessee) Titans take over. It’s a real football, music city. Hockey’s growing and getting bigger, but it’s a small market, no question.”
A look at the standings shows that Nashville’s young talent has them among the best in the West. Seeded fourth in the conference entering Thursday’s action, the Predators trail powerhouse Detroit by five points for first in the Central Division.
“They’re doing great and I just realized (goaltender Pekka Rinne’s) not even playing,” Arnott said. “I really think he’s a fantastic goaltender and I knew they’d do well this year. Their defense is incredible and they’re just a hard-working bunch, guys that come to work every night. Their D is topnotch. Now they’ve got another young goalie (Anders Lindback) stepping in and stealing the show. They’re rolling pretty well.”
But big No. 25 is happy to be back in the Garden State.
“The guys in here are fantastic,” he said. “I love living here, my family loves living here.”